Historic downtown Orlando sign to be illuminated in public for the 1st time in decades

WINTER PARK, Fla. — A historic downtown Orlando neon sign will soon be illuminated in public for the first time in more than 30 years.


The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in downtown Winter Park will host a free event next month during which it will publicly illuminate the 1950s-era neon sign that once stood outside the Orange Court Motor Lodge.

The “Neon Night” event is scheduled for April 12.

Visitors are invited to take part in a “Color & Light” tour of the Morse Museum’s galleries at 6 p.m.

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The historic neon sign will be lit up outside the museum at 7 p.m. And the sign will remain illuminated until 9 p.m.

The Orange Court Motor Lodge first opened as the Orange Court Hotel in 1924 on North Orange Avenue near West Colonial Drive -- where the Camden Orange Court apartments now stand.

The Spanish Revival-style hotel -- which was known for its stylish interiors and Orlando’s first indoor swimming pool -- was a popular resort destination for celebrities and residents alike.

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The 275-room hotel had vine-covered balconies surrounding a garden that boasted more than 500 varieties of tropical plants and even a small citrus grove where guests could pick oranges.

When it changed ownership in the 1960s, it was renamed the Orange Court Motor Lodge and was outfitted with a new neon sign.

The sign features 115 incandescent bulbs and weighs almost 1,000 pounds.

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When the hotel closed in 1990, the museum’s first director, Hugh McKean, stepped forward to save the sign from demolition, the museum said.

The sign is one of many local neon signs that was saved by McKean as part of the museum’s collection.

Click here to learn more about “Neon Night”, and click here to read an original 1920s-era brochure from the hotel.

See a map of the museum below:

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.

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