Family marks century owning Eatonville land that served as sanctuary for Black families

An Eatonville family is celebrating 100 years of owning acres of land covering part of Maitland and Eatonville.

The property, which lines Lake Sybelia, was purchased during Jim Crow and segregation and was held onto through periods where Black homeownership dropped to record lows.


For many Black Winter Park and Maitland families, it was the only place they were welcomed to swim, celebrate and gather.

Louise Franklin’s parents bought the 12 acres in 1923 for $600 when they made $2 a hour working as a chauffeur and babysitter.

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The turned what was Maitland’s dump into a sanctuary for African Americans who were banned from local white facilities.

“It was the only place for the Blacks to come for entertainment,” Louise said.

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She recalled Black families walking from Winter Park down dirt roads to Eatonville to use the lake to swim, for baptisms and to use the outhouses.

To schedule a tour of the Franklin estate, you can visit or contact the town of Eatonville Chamber of Commerce.

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