October 12th 2017
So, I've lived in Central Florida with my family since the early 90's and I have to be honest, I have never been to the Art & History Museums - Maitland. Wow! how unfortunate...I have lived near this amazing place for well over 20 years and have passed it up several times. So, I decided to give my Dad a call and we hit the road. I have to tell you, this is one location that can not be passed up. It has tons to see and do, as well as incredible gardens that feature buildings inspired by Mexican Aztec & Mayan architecture. We were both amazed that once we were on the grounds of the A&H Museums we were completely transported to another culture. The largest museum the A&H's Maitland Art Center was founded in 1937 by artist and architect J. Andre Smith. It was founded as an art colony where professional artist could come, stay, study and perfect their skills. It is here, that you will see the best and few surviving examples of "Mayan Revival" architecture in the Southeast. This rare but beautiful architecture is one of the main reasons it was named the first National Historic Landmark in Central Florida.
Main Garden Gate, ca. 1940
Main Garden, ca. 1945
Chapel, ca. 1950
As we walked through the Mayan-inspired garden gates we were surrounded by a beautifully landscaped garden and reflection pond. We were immediately immersed into the world of Jules Andre Smith and his resident artists who created on site, every single piece of artwork that adorns the buildings and landscape. He and his team of artist hand-made hundreds of sculptures. These sculptures can be found in every corner of the complex. Here you will also find the Studio Complex and Gallery started in 1937. Through out his life Smith continually added to this masterpiece until he died in 1959. The most amazing part of this complex is right across the street. The Chapel is even more beautiful than the rest of the grounds surround by massive oak trees it is the perfect place to sit and just take in the beauty. Every wall is carved with images of Christ, the Cross or other religious images giving this Chapel a meaningful and peaceful feeling.
One of the coolest places in the museum is the A&H's Telephone Museum. This part is the one that my Dad enjoyed the most. He loved seeing all of the ol' fashion phones and enjoyed showing me how life use to be. Sadly, I saw many antique phones that I myself could remember and may have even used back in the 80's. My Dad enjoyed making fun of me by saying "you know your getting old, when you see things in a historic museum that you can remember using". As we walked and talked my Dad even came across old military phones that were used in Vietnam and began to tell me all about his days in the Army.
No trip to a museum is complete with out a tour of a historic Victorian home. My Dad and I took the very short drive down the road to visit the Waterhouse Residence. This home was built in 1884 by William H. Waterhouse and actually sites on the same site as it did over 133 years ago. It is amazing to see this home has survived for so many years as a symbol of a middle class Victorian family. Along with this home, out back you will find the Carpentry Shop Museum. Here you can see first hand several of William H. Waterhouse's tools used to make the home as well as several of the furnishing inside of the home.