‘It just needs some TLC’: Pine Castle home built in 1885 poised to be spared from the wrecking ball

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Update:

The city approved the discussion and agreed with Cornerstone to separate the Lancaster House and land from their lease.

They will also discuss a plan with Pioneer Days to lease and repair the house.


Previous story:

A historic home in Orange County’s Pine Castle neighborhood appears to no longer be under threat of demolition as Belle Isle City Council members are set to again discuss its fate.

The Lancaster House, built in 1885, has been standing at its spot on Randolph Avenue for nearly 140 years.

Two years ago, the neighboring charter school asked the city for permission to demolish the building for what was believed to be an expansion of the school’s parking lot. The city rejected that request.

Historical groups rallied to save the structure, with the aim of restoring it as a historical landmark. They asked the city to move the lease of the land from the school.

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“The city manager was all the way to the point of view of drafting a lease agreement with us to be able to sit down with a Cornerstone (Charter School) folks,” said William Morgan, of Pine Castle Pioneer Days -- an annual community history event. “Then, he left and so that kind of put things on the back burner.”

But Tuesday evening’s discussion -- with a new city manager in place -- is expected to have a different tone after the school confirmed it has no problem with giving up the house and its land.

“The school has no planned future use for the Lancaster House building parcel for parking or otherwise,” a spokeswoman said.

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The statement spelled out the requests of the school -- that the historians negotiate directly with the city, and that a fence is built around the house to separate visitors from children.

The announcement by the school was greeted with relief by supporters of the house, even though City Council’s discussion and potential vote hadn’t taken place and the plan was reliant on them going along with it.

“We’d like to take it back to its original construction,” said Gail Padgett, who has organized a fundraiser to fully restore the home. “It deserves respect, and it deserves preservation.”

Read: OCPS to repurpose historic building near downtown Orlando

Morgan said his group had already collected tens of thousands of dollars for the restoration work, which contractors priced out at approximately $90,000 when they inspected it. He said he’d seek grants and city assistance to make up the difference.

The building could become a much-needed office and storage for his organization, which organizes a festival every year honoring the founding of the community, he explained, in addition to a teaching tool.

“It’s solid as a rock,” he said, acknowledging the exterior was in a state of disrepair. “There’s nothing structurally wrong with that house. It just needs some TLC.”

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