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The Architect of Orlando’s First Schools

Howard Montalbert Reynolds, Sr., was born in Detroit Michigan on June 17, 1885; one of ten children of Finley Howard Reynolds and his wife, Hannah Harwood. Following his architectural training he practiced in Jacksonville, Florida, before relocating to Orlando, circa 1921. In Orlando he quickly became an architect of note, sought out by many clients, to design commercial, educational, and residential buildings there.


With offices first in the Orlando Bank and Trust Company Building, later at 423 S. Orange Avenue, Reynolds was adept at various styles of architecture, He designed gracefully proportioned, notable public buildings in the prevailing fashionable styles of the 1920s, including Mediterranean Revival, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Egyptian Revival, Art Deco and Art Modern. His First National Bank Building at 190 South Orange Street is considered to be the first Art Moderne commercial building in Orlando.


Among Reynolds' best known works are a number of educational buildings still in use as schools or community centers in Central Florida. These include: Jones High School (1922), Osceola High School (1925), Marks Street School (1925), Howard Middle School (Originally Orlando High School, 1926),Winter Park Junior-Senior High School (1926), sister design Grand Avenue Elementary School (1926) and Princeton Elementary School (1926), Cherokee Junior High School (1927), and the now demolished Mann Hall of the Pell-Clarke School for Girls (1927).


Other work by Reynolds includes the San Juan Hotel additions and remodeling (1922), First Congregational Church of Winter Park (1924), Orange County Chamber of Commerce (1926), Osceola County Courthouse remodeling (1926), Kissimmee Band Shell and Community Building additions and remolding (1929 and 1937), the Edith Levens Residence, Alameda Street (n.d.), and the already mentioned First National Bank Building.


Reynolds' was among a small but active group of ten architectural firms listed in the Orlando phone directory in 1926, the others including: Frank L. Bodine, Fred E. Field, David Hyer, Murray S. King, George E. Krug, Ryan and Roberts (Ida Annah Ryan and Isabel Roberts) and Percy P. Turner. This group of architects felt it important to create a distinctive regional architecture, an effort which they described in the Florida journal “The Florida Circle” in 1924 as follows:


"Just as architects of old created styles to harmonize with their environment, so have the architects of Florida been creating, from native motifs, a style that is carefully adapted to the climatic conditions and surroundings of the state. This style has an individuality all its own and should have a fitting name to express its origins . . . The Florida Association of Architects will give a prize of $25.00 for the name selected."


Like many architects, Reynold designed his own residence, in fact, a series of homes in succession that the family lived in: 104 S Brown Avenue, (1922), 204 S. Brown Avenue (1928), 1313 Buckingham Road, Winter Park (1930), and a home for his son Howard M. Reynolds Jr at 1485 Westchester Avenue, Winter Park. It is believed that other homes in each of these locations were also the work of Reynolds.


Reynolds also participated in the group of architects who designed Griffin Park, an early example of a public housing community, in Orlando. Many of Reynolds' suave, stylish buildings have been designated as Orlando Historic Landmarks.


Reynolds had, through his wife Doris, a family connection to fellow Orlando architect Isabel Roberts. On February 21, 1916, Reynolds married Doris Crandall who was born on January 25, 1896 (died 1978). They were the parents of three children: Marie (Mrs. Harry H. Fetters), Howard M. Jr. (1922-1990) (married Darlene Lentz) and Robert (married Mary Elizabeth Saine). Howard M. Reynolds, Sr. died on October 21, 1943. Both Howard and his wife Doris Reynolds are buried in Edgewood-Greenwood Cemetery, Apopka, Florida. Some of their descendants continue to live in Central Florida.


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