A Jewel in Our Midst

Maitland Art Center honored as National Historic Landmark.



MacbethPhoto.com

Those familiar with the Maitland Art Center have always known that we have a true treasure nestled along a brick street just east of Lake Sybelia. Now it’s official.

The 77-year-old complex, originally created as an artists’ colony, was recently named a National Historic Landmark—the first in the four-county area of Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola and only the 44th in Florida. The designation will make the center more competitive in obtaining grants and private funding, says Andrea Bailey Cox, CEO and executive director of the Maitland Art and History Association. The center also will be able to access one-on-one assistance from National Park Service experts on conservation and preservation projects.

The designation also is important in another way: creating awareness.

“We’re sort of tucked away in this wonderful community and not everyone knows that we’re here, and our biggest challenge is getting people to find us,’’ Cox says. “Once they do, they fall in love with the site.’’ 

The compound features a fascinating variety of both Mayan and Christian imagery, the work of artist and architect André Smith, who founded the site as the Research Studio in 1937. When he died in 1959, the complex fell into disrepair and was even threatened with destruction to make way for a condominum. Today, efforts are under way to open more spaces as artist studios, and an artist-in-residence program has been restarted.

An official plaque dedication to commemorate the landmark designation is set for 11:30 a.m. Jan. 8. For details on the center, go to artandhistory.org

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