Hannibal Square Heroine

Won’t Take No for an Answer

Hannibal Square Heroine

WAWP_9-4-13_Martha_Hall_pic_1a_215x150.fwAt the October 24 Commission Meeting, Winter Park learned (if it didn’t know already) that Martha Bryant Hall is a force to be reckoned with. Since early summer, Mrs. Hall has sought to have the home she shared with her late husband, the Reverend Jerry Hall, placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places.

First, City Staff Recommends in Favor

A Staff Report prepared by City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs for the July 13 meeting of the Historic Preservation Board (HPB) recommended in favor of listing the Hall house at 331 Lyman Avenue. Mrs. Hall’s application was based on the age of the home – 58 years – and the significant contributions to the community of Reverend Jerry Hall.

HPB Tables the Request

Best Hall House3

Reverend Jerry Hall Residence

The minutes of the HPB meeting show that Mrs. Hall’s application was “continued,” however, and would not be heard at the July 13 meeting.

What the Ordinance Said At the Time

At the time of Ms. Hall’s application, the Historic Preservation Ordinance, No. 3024-15, stated, “The eligibility of any potential historic landmark, resource or district shall be supported by meeting applicable (sic) criteria based upon the National Register of Historic Places guidelines criteria (sic) for evaluation at the local, state or national level.”

(1) A quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and associations; and

(2) At least one of the following:
i. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, or
ii. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past, or . . . .

Five additional criteria follow which are not applicable in this case.

Then City Staff Recommends Against

Mrs. Hall’s request came to the HPB again on August 24, with a staff recommendation that the home at 331 Lyman Ave. not be placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. The report, prepared by City Planning Director Dori Stone, stated the home had no architectural significance and that Reverend Hall had not been dead long enough.

“While Reverend Hall was an important figure to the community, he passed away in 2008,” Stone wrote in the report. “It is still too early to know how his legacy and contributions to the city, especially in the Hannibal Square area, will be determined.”

When Hannibal Square resident Mary Daniels rose to ask HPB members whether they knew of any document that stated a person had to be dead a certain length of time to be considered significant, she was told they did not.

Ordinance Was Under Review

The Historic Preservation ordinance was undergoing review at the time of the August meeting. It had been the widest plank in the campaign platform of Commissioner Peter Weldon, who had vowed to revise the ordinance if he were elected, which he was.

The minutes of the August 24 HPB meeting show that Ms. Stone stated: “. . .the initial staff report that Mrs. Hall received was a draft that did not properly cite the new historic preservation ordinance, and the final staff report was rewritten to cite the criteria of the new historic preservation ordinance.”

The HPB unanimously denied Mrs. Hall’s request for historic designation.

Perseverance Pays

On October 24, Mrs. Hall requested the City Commission reconsider her case and overturn HPB’s denial of her request for historic designation. Mrs. Hall and those who spoke on her behalf elicited a range of responses from the Mayor and Commissioners.

Sprinkel: “It’s the Merits of the Man, Not the House.”

Cooper: “It’s a Great Day for Winter Park.”

Weldon: “This Sets a Precedent that Will Be Difficult for Us.”

Seidel: “I Just Want to Apologize That You’re Even Here.”

Leary: “I Have Trouble Supporting This because of the Experts’ Opinions.”

The Commission voted 3 to 2 to approve Mrs. Hall’s request to place the home at 331 W. Lyman Ave. on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places.

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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5 replies
  1. BK says:

    Bravo to the Halls for prevailing on this commemoration of a strong, important historical figure. And thank you for educating us about this fine man.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous says:

    A proud day for Winter Park and our rapidly disappearing West Side. Next step is to get the West Side churches designated as historic sites, because they are the heart and soul of West Side history.

    God Bless.

    Reply
  3. NIMBY-10stepper says:

    Kudos to the Commission for seeing through the written minutia and understanding that heritage preservation is every bit as important to WP community as a “whole” as is the brick and mortar version!! I’m impressed, and glad to see that sensibility won, over insensitivity. It’s been awhile.

    Reply
  4. Who Cares? says:

    What would make infinitely more sense is if anybody who met at least one of the guidelines, using the broadest possible interpretation, and applied, was automatically granted approval.,

    Instead we have what amounts to a kangaroo court at the HPB level, and a second one at the City Commission level. Like a stingy umpire that says, “It ain’t nothin’ until I call it,” as the ball goes belt high over the center of the plate, they make up their own arbitrary interpretation that they are more than willing to pontificate on during the proceedings, as if anyone wanted to listen. And then after listening to themselves talk on end, they use their vaulted opinion of their own wisdom on the subject as a supplement to the guidelines available to the residents.

    Who cares if 10,000 homes in Winter Park get designated historic?

    When you apply for a marriage license you don’t have to go through this ordeal. Come to think of it, maybe things would work out better all around here if the marriage license office swapped jobs with the HPB.

    Reply
  5. bernice white says:

    Congratulations. Time and commitment well spent.

    Mrs Roosevelt said something like, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

    You are a strong woman

    Reply

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