Answer Man

Digging into Orlando’s Past




The Angebilt Hotel and Orange Avenue in the early 20th century

ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER

Digging into Orlando’s Past

Q: Is there a secret tunnel connecting the Beacham Theater and the old Angebilt Hotel??

 
A: Local lore has it that in the 1920s, vaudeville stars frequented a passageway between the downtown Orange Avenue buildings (both still standing) to avoid fans at street level. But it may only be urban legend.
For certain, there’s something down there, at least on the Beacham end. In 2007, local historian Steve Rajtar and a TV crew descended through a trap door off the stage and found a passageway about 5 feet high. As they approached Orange, the space shrank to 3 feet and then appeared to be blocked.
“I didn’t try to crawl all the way and figured that any performers at the Beacham would also have been reluctant to do so through cobwebs and rat droppings,’’ Rajtar says.
On the Angebilt end, there have been rumors of a basement door that led to the tunnel. Orlando resident Bill Milligan’s grandfather owned the hotel in the 1920s, and Milligan’s late older brother, Jimmy, used to work there. However, says Bill Milligan, 79, “I never heard a tunnel mentioned. And my brother would have known if there had been one.’’
Another Orlando historian, Joy Wallace Dickinson, raises an intriguing possibility about the Beacham. Recently she toured some historic buildings in Tampa and learned that during renovation, crews came across subterranean spaces about 3 feet high that were used to hide booze during Prohibition. Could it be that our “tunnel’’ was actually a special storage area?
Answer Man proposes a toast to creativity.
 
Ericka Dunlap
 

 

Q: Whatever happened to Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004?

 
A: After venturing into country music in Nashville for a few years, Dunlap is back home in Orlando, running her own PR firm and a foundation she created to teach girls how to develop a strong self-image. She also does motivational speaking around the country, sharing team-building skills she learned in 2009 as a contestant onThe Amazing Race with her then-husband (they placed third). 
Dunlap, 30, started her Crown Jewel Foundation in 2007 with an eye toward using teaching sessions and camps to help girls ages 6 to 16 “understand the worth and the value of their own personal brand.’’ And the Boone High-UCF graduate knows something about that subject. After she became the first African-American Miss Florida, and subsequently won the national title, Dunlap had “a sense of invincibility, and I felt like I could take on any of my goals and make them happen.’’ While she didn’t achieve all of them, she has few regrets.
“That’s why a rearview mirror is really small and the windshield is so large—you need to look forward,’’ Dunlap says.

Answer Man welcomes your questions about the Orlando area. Send queries to answerman@orlandomagazine.com

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Vacation Planner

Your next getaway is only a click away. Search our database for a great vacation experience.

2016 Premier Veterinarians

2016 Pet Resource Guide

Check out our searchable 2016 list of some of the best pet resources in the Orlando area.

Premier Realtors

Check out our 2016 searchable database of Orlando's premier realtors.

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2016

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2016

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2016

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

'Orlando' Magazine Wins 8 Awards for Excellence

Recognition from Florida Magazine Association includes honors for design, writing, photography.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando Sep 23 to 25

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Messages of Peace

Offerings at the Global Peace Film Festival include a documentary about the Pulse nightclub tragedy.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando Sep 16 to 18

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Q&A: Zanna Roberts Rassi

“Marie Claire’s’’ senior fashion editor will host this weekend’s benefit during The Mall at Millenia's Fashion Week.
Edit Module