Frederick Homer Trimble, Architect
Building Name:The Mayor William Beardall Senior Center
Address:800 South Delaney Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
Link to location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/het7VQrCZAheSbgu8
Architect of Record:Frederick Homer Trimble
Design Architect (if different):
Same as above
General Contractor: F. A. Peppercorn
Noteworthy Architectural Features:An impressive and sturdily built public school with brick façade and limestone string courses, designed in the Prairie School style. The building evidences Prairie School elements such as a long and low profile, bands of grouped windows, and restrained use of subtle geometric decorative elements. The building also has elements of the emerging Spanish Colonial Revival style, including the roof parapet and sculptural main entry stair. A 100-plus-year-old building, it is a chief feature of its neighborhood and well-maintained by the city of Orlando as a recreation and meeting facility.
How to Visit:Hours: 8-9 Monday, 8-10 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 8-5 Friday closed Sunday.
Contact information: 407 246-4440; Karen.email@example.com
Architectural Style:Prairie School
Related Links: Frederick Homer Trimble Wikipedia:
Beardall Center Thriving in Its Second Century
Well-Preserved Prairie School in Orlando
F. H. Trimble’s School Still Has Lessons to Teach Us
Lasting Style a Century Later
If you happen along the mostly bucolic section of South Delaney Street, you will eventually come to a large brick structure, from 100+ years ago. To the ordinary passerby, it might look like a hundred other schools in a hundred other places. And old time Orlando residents might say, “Oh, that’s the old school”, and perhaps add, “That’s the old school that I attended years ago”. While there is truth to the first view, that this is similar to many other school buildings across the nation, there is much more truth to the second observation. This structure for many years served the Orlando community as the Delaney Street Elementary School. it was built by the Orlando Public School System. And as they were wisely want to do, they commissioned a notable Central Florida architect to design the building. To the city’s great credit, after the many years that the building functioned as a school, they chose to give it a renewed purpose. Which speaks not only to the wisdom of preserving good architecture, but also, the wisdom of adaptive reuse. But going back to the early days. Let’s take a closer look at the old school as if it were brand new, and see what we find. The first thing we notice is the long and somewhat low profile. This is emphasized by horizontal overhanging eves, overhead. This is echoed in the continuous limestone string course that is placed between the ground floor and the first floor, visually emphasizing the horizontal line. The next thing we notice is it symmetry, with the door in the center of the main façade. And then there’s the windows, which spread across the façade uniformly, and grouped together, to suggest to the observer from far away, that this might be a building connected to the Prairie School movement. And that would be correct. You see, the grouped windows were a practical solution to the placement of the classrooms inside. So the exterior reflects the design of the building on its interior. We would call that truth in architecture, something that was not always the goal, but in the Prairie School era, it was part of the aesthetic. Yes, it is practical to do classroom windows that way, but no one did so, up until the Prairie School; they still do it today.
And as we draw closer, some of the details of the brick work reinforces the Prairie idiom. If we look at the details of the brick we will see that there are some insets of limestone, either squares or rectangles, as well as those with an elongated sword-like design, that is purely geometric. It does not bring to mind anything in the natural world. However, the vertical elongated decoration is something that can be seem on many Prairie Style buildings. A Prairie Style buildings is primarily horizontal in nature, but there is always this counterpoint of the vertical. it probably cost very little to insert those, and yet their presence gives interest to what would otherwise be a very plain wall. It compares favorably with Prairie Style schools in the Midwest, where that architectural movement began, as well as with other Prairie Style schools across the land.
About the brick itself. It was a good choice. It was a lasting choice. This is not a building that was constructed to be used for a short period of time, and then abandoned, but rather a building that was to last for very long time. A brick exterior requires almost no maintenance, and looks as good 50 or 100 years later as it did when it was first constructed. Brick is always a good choice.
As an aside, we want to note that, wisely, no one ever got the irrational idea of painting the brick. We have to point that out, because in our current age, many of the design shows that you will watch on television have people taking a beautiful brick building, and deciding to “freshen it up”, or “change it out”, or “give it a new appeal”, by painting it. Nothing is quite so ridiculous is that. Why would you take an exterior material that is trouble-free, and change it to something that must be tended to every 15 years or so? Especially in a climate like Orlando’s, where extremes in temperature and humidity are enemies of painted brick. I know there will be those who disagree with this observation, but the reality is this: truth in materials includes being true to unpainted brick that was chosen by the architect from the beginning.
What is the visual, emotional effect of this building? We asked some observers, and among the things that they mentioned was its sense of stability. Durability. Its commanding presence, without being overwhelming. Words like “restrained’ and “elegant” are mentioned. Also, its sense of welcome, especially as noted by the beautiful entry stairway. About which we will elaborate in a moment. All in all, those who are given an opportunity to reflect on the building comment positively on its aesthetic appeal. About that entry stairway. Here is one clue that many of these Prairie Style ideas were giving a nod to the new, emerging Central Florida Spanish Revival or Mediterranean Revival style. A close look at the entry stairway design speaks well to the architect’s interest in providing something visually appealing, with its oversized banisters, that come to an elegant curve where the stairway begins. You might say that they extend to the person who is about to enter, a welcoming embrace. Before one even enters the building one has the sense that this is a place you want to be, come on in, you are welcome here. That’s good architecture. Observers will note that there are sturdy metal railings – a later addition - that have been inserted on the stairway. They’ve been done as sensitively as possible. But if you look at it “squinty-eyed” and imagine those railings not there, you’ll get more of the architect’s original intention. Of course, the railings are an important addition for safety concerns that weren’t part of the architectural thought process 100 years ago.
Another nod to the emerging Spanish Revival aesthetic is the roof parapet. You will see that the central portion of the parapet is an elongated curve. Subtle but a focus for the eye. On each side above the group of five windows is a long raised horizontal section of parapet, which is another way the architect provided a sense of rhythm for the façade.
All in all, the Delaney Street Elementary School / Mayor William Beardall Senior Center, is a beautiful, important part of the history of Orlando architecture. it serves as both a centerpiece and an anchor for its neighborhood, which is still very much in demand as a place to live in Orlando. It provides a sense of place and sense of purpose, a sense of welcome, and a promise of enduring appeal. About the architect:
Frederick Homer (“Fred”) Trimble was an architect with professional experience that involved study and practice for the first three decades of the twentieth century. He expressed his capabilities in some of the best buildings in Orlando and vicinity, and beyond. Trimble was born in Essex Ontario, Canada on June 2, 1878, the son of Andrew Hill and Cynthia Wright Trimble. He grew up on his parents’ prize cattle farm. Fred was one of their thirteen children: ten boys and three girls.
Frederick Trimble lived in Canada until he was 21 years of age. While there he acquired a public school education. Upon coming to the United States, he entered Morningside College at Sioux City, Iowa, a college associated with the Methodist Church. Before completing his college course there, he was sent in 1904 to China to perform architectural service under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church Missions. the first industrial missionary. There, in Fuzhou, China, putting to use his schooling in architecture and civil engineering.
Subsequently, he resumed his work at Morningside College, graduated A. B. In 1911 and following that came another three years in China as a missionary architect. While in China, Trimble served as superintendent of construction of Hwa Nan College, the Woman's College of South China. Mr. Trimble, in 1914, came to Florida and located at Fellsmere. From there he removed to Orlando in 1916. He was the architect of many structures in the state. His chief reputation is based on his work as a school architect. He was architect of the following notable buildings: Fellsmere, High School, Okeechobee High School, Lake Worth High School, Gulf High School, Orlando, High School, Stuart High School, Saint Joseph Catholic School of Orlando, and academic buildings in various counties of the state, including Florida Southern College, Lakeland, where he designed buildings and developed a campus masterplan. Trimble designed buildings for the Montverde Academy, as well as numerous hotels and other public buildings. He worked in theColonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Prairie Style, as well as neo Gothic Revvial. During his Orlando years, Trimble employed fellow Central Florida architect Ida Annah Ryan as a designing architect, before she formed a practice with Isabel Roberts.
Trimble's was one of ten architectural firms listed in the Orlando phone directory in 1926, including: Frank L. Bodine, Fred E. Field, David Hyer, Murry S. King, George E. Krug, Howard M. Reynolds, Maurice Kressley, Percy P. Turner, and Ryan and Roberts (Ida Annah Ryan and Isabel Roberts). These architects were intentional about creating a style of architecture suited to Central Florida, which today is recognizable a Spanish Colonial Revival or Mediterranean Revival type. Indeed, if there is an historic building in this style in Central Florida, it was most likely by one of these firms.
In 1921, Trimble created a master plan for the campus of Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s campus plan for the University of Virginia. Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous later design for the campus was influenced by Trimble’s concepts, especially the domed central feature, which Wright translated into a water dome, finally made operational in 2008.
Trimble was a lifelong member of the Methodist Church. He married in China in 1906, Miss Rena Bowker, who was his school mate at Morningside College, from which she graduated in 1905, and then went to China as a Methodist missionary. The Trimbles had four children, Gladys Emmaline (1908-1984), Leonard Bowker (1913-1999), Jerome Bowker (1917-2006), and Ethel Wallace Trimble (1918-1988. Mrs. Dearl Edward Adams, m. August 1936). Around 1929-1930 the Trimble family relocated to Brownsville, Texas, where he continued his practice of architecture.
Trimble died in a tragic fire at the Bowden Creamery on August 13, 1934, at Innisfall, Alberta, Canada, and was buried in the Red Deer Cemetery, Alberta, Canada. Six of his brothers served as pallbearers. Trimble’s wife Rena had died in Brownsville, Texas, in 1932.
Some of Fredrick Trimble’s Florida work has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including: Fellsmere Public School, the Luther F. Tilden House in Winter Garden, the Vero Theatre in Vero Beach, and the Lake Wales Historic Residential District in Lake Wales.
Other surviving work includes: the old Carey Funeral Home, Orlando, the old Lake County Courthouse in Tavares, the Joseph-Reynolds Hall at Florida Southern College, Lakeland, The Methodist Hospital of Central Illinois in Peoria, and the Central Christian Church, Brownsville, Texas.