Longwood Condominiums

LONGWOODLongwood Condominiums
Population:
 13,732
Demographics: Median age is 42; 85.5 percent white, 5.1 percent black, 15.8 percent Hispanic
Median household income: $57,439
Schools: Sabal Point Elementary School, Wekiva Elementary School, Woodlands Elementary School, Milwee Middle School, Rock Lake Middle School, Teague Middle School, Lyman High School, Lake Mary High School, Lake Brantley High School
Entertainment: Several sites listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, including the Victorian Bradlee-McIntyre House, the Longwood Hotel, and the Longwood Historic District, which has 37 historic buildings.

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Longwood made national news early in 2012 for all the wrong reasons. “The Senator,” a 3,500-year-old pond cypress tree — the oldest of its kind in the world — was destroyed when a drug addict started a fire at the base of the tree, killing Florida’s oldest tourist attraction that had been a great part of the state’s history since Native American tribes used it as a landmark to help guide them to their trading grounds.

The Senator, named after Florida State Senator Moses Overstreet, was nearly 120 feet tall and had been dedicated with a bronze plaque in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge. It was recognized as the fifth oldest tree in the world. Fortunately, it is survived by another tree of the same species known as Lady Liberty in Longwood’s Big Tree Park. Lady Liberty is only 89 feet high and estimated to be 2000 years old; another one of the oldest trees in the world.

Despite the senseless loss of The Senator, Longwood is a lovely wooded area in Seminole County, northeast of Orlando with enough stands of tall trees to justify the city’s name, even though the moniker was actually borrowed from a suburb of Boston by one of the area’s earliest American settlers. Meanwhile, the word “Seminole,” used to designate the county, is a combination of Spanish and Creek (Native American) terms for people who live away from others; and the area was indeed an early settlement for various Indian tribes from the Eastern United States who became known as the Seminole Indians.

The earliest American settlers began coming to Longwood in the time period between the end of the Seminole Wars and the beginning of the Civil War. However, it was when Edward Warren Henck, a railroad pioneer, brought his family there in 1873 that the area became established with a post office and hotel. Henck became the city’s first mayor in 1885 governing the city of 1,000 people; and a decade later, the burgeoning city had three hotels, five churches, eight stores and a weekly newspaper. Not surprisingly given the area’s many trees, it soon became home to the P.A. Demens & Co. the major supplier of lumber and building materials for much of the area.

Railroad expansion in Florida and the Central Florida citrus industry added to Longwood’s growth and economy until a devastating freeze in 1894 caused people to flee the area, leaving Longwood’s population at just 325 by the census of 1900. For about the next 50 years, Longwood went through periods of rebound and decline. It was incorporated as a city in 1923, but didn’t experience real growth until the nearby Kennedy Space Center and Walt Disney World brought economic stability in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, Longwood’s population exceeds 13,700 people

Because it is almost equidistant from Orange County’s major tourist attractions, a major job source, as it is from the East Coast beaches of Florida, Longwood is popular both as a place to live and to visit, especially for golfers. There are at least 10 different golf courses within 15 miles of Longwood.

There is no denying the historical significance of Longwood. As a result, the city has taken steps in recent years to revitalize its downtown historic district. The city has also grown through annexation.

There are a number of notable sites worth visiting in Longwood, including the Bradlee-McIntyre House, the Longwood Hotel and the surviving oldest pond cypress, Lady Liberty.