The Art & History Museums – Maitland’s (A&H’s) Maitland Art Center – has become the first National Historic Landmark in greater Orlando and the 44th in the state of Florida.
Awarded on September 30, 2014 by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the designation applies to places that “exceptionally illustrate or interpret the heritage of the United States.”
An official plaque dedication ceremony at A&H’s Maitland Art Center will take place Jan. 8, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. with details to follow.
“We’re very proud to receive this honor,” said Andrea Bailey Cox, CEO and Executive Director of Art & History Museums – Maitland. “We invite the community to celebrate with us by visiting our unique ‘oasis for creativity’ in the heart of Central Florida.”
Founded in 1937 by visionary artist and architect Jules André Smith – with the patronage of Mary Louise Curtis Bok –A&H’s Maitland Art Center is built in the rare Mayan Revival style, ornate with copious sculptural reliefs drawing on Mesoamerican, Asian and African iconographies. Originally known as the Research Studio, it was part of a colony that provided a place for artists to live, experiment with new forms and escape the demands of daily life.
Today, two campuses of the Art & History Museums – Maitland include gardens, diverse collections, ongoing exhibitions, educational programming and a pair of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places (the Maitland Art Center and the Victorian-era Waterhouse Residence Museum). In addition, Smith’s legacy continues through annual residency and studio programs that welcome artists from across the nation.
The extensive application to become a National Historic Landmark was completed by A&H’s Curator of History Christine Madrid French with support from the City of Maitland. The rigorous nomination process included reviews from subject matter experts, advisory boards, a variety of scholars and several federal agencies. Of particular importance is that the Research Studio’s buildings are one of the only remaining examples of “fantasy architecture” in the Southeast.
Across the nation, just over 2,500 sites are considered National Historic Landmarks. In Central Florida, there are only two in Brevard County (the Windover Archeological Site and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station) and two in Polk County (Bok Tower Gardens and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Florida Southern College Architectural District).
“Our community truly has a hidden gem in A&H’s Maitland Art Center,” said Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker. “It’s my hope that the National Historic Landmark status will lead to more people learning about and supporting this wonderful piece of our heritage.”
Located near Lake Sybelia at 231 W. Packwood Ave., one block west of South Orlando Avenue, A&H’s Maitland Art Center galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets ($3 for adults, $2 for children and seniors;) gardens are open to the public. Memberships start at $30 per year.
For more information, or to schedule a group tour, visit artandhistory.org.