Charming and inventive work by Sam Stoltz
Sam Stoltz, an innovative artist, also created some of the most distinctive buildings in Central Florida in the late 1920s and 1930s. Perhaps more artist than architect, he left a legacy of charming homes and artwork throughout the region. Stoltz was born in Nebraska a decade after the end of the Civil War. He studied commercial art in Chicago and for several years worked as an art director and illustrator. Before moving to Orlando with his wife Patti Jo in 1925, Stoltz dabbled in design and house construction in Chicago. He arrived in Florida at the age of 50 during the real estate boom to make his fortune designing and building homes. Stoltz worked and lived primarily in Winter Park. Although he had no formal training in architecture, he was versed in building techniques. Upon coming to Florida, Stoltz embraced a love for the native flora and fauna. He painted nature-inspired murals on the walls of the homes he built throughout the region. While these creations featured Florida’s wildlife, some also included Florida historical themes. One of Stoltz's creations in an Orlando home (photo by Rick Kilby)
Stoltz called his style “Spanish Orlando” – his own liberal interpretation of Mediterranean Revival. He became well known for cathedral ceilings, stucco, masonry, and massive stone fireplaces, as well as fountains and garden landscapes. Homes that Stoltz created in the late 1920s and 1930s are sprinkled throughout the greater Orlando area, including Windermere. His “storybook” houses are found tucked away in Lake Eola Heights and College Park. A Stoltz mural is protected by glass at College Park Community Center. (photo by Rick Kilby)
In addition to the residences he created, Stoltz also employed his artistic and decorative talents to enhance local business interiors. He created installations, paintings, and murals for Fidelity Title & Loan Company, the Angebilt Hotel, and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. The beamed ceiling and large stone fireplace in the banquet hall at Dubsdread’s Tap Room are Stoltz’s work. His murals of ibises and flamingos once adorned Orlando’s Angebilt Hotel lobby. Two Stoltz murals, almost lost in the Dubsdread clubhouse restoration, can be seen hanging at the College Park Community Center near Princeton Elementary. Later in life, he moved to Mount Plymouth, Fla., where he designed and built storybook homes with Tudor-style touches, fountains, waterfalls made with coquina, and pitched roofs reminiscent of the Weasleys’ house in the Harry Potter saga. He dubbed these homes the “Plymouthonians.” Stoltz died on December 10, 1952, at the age of 76, in his Winter Park home. Here are a few examples of Stoltz’s work that still stand: · 1318 Eastin Avenue, a historic Mediterranean Revival home, was designed in the 1920s. The home has been updated but remains a wealth of distinctive features and architectural detail. · 3206 Greens Avenue, a unique Frame Vernacular private residence with rustic influences. The original owner, H. Carl Dann, was the president of the Orange County Investment Company, which developed over 60 properties in Mount Plymouth and the Concord Park, Dubsdread, and Park Lake neighborhoods. · Dubsdread Golf Course Clubhouse · Martin Hall, 1000 Genius Drive, Winter Park, constructed in 1925, is a Spanish mansion-style home with many balconies, a tiled roof, and waterspouts to prevent flooding when it rains. · Plymouthonian No. 2 in Mount Plymouth, Fla. More information and photos of Stolz’s work are available online at John Dalles’ blog, Transformations and Whispers: Amazing Architecture of Sam Stoltz.