I recently ran across a document that was called The History of Orange Blossom Gardens!
What a great piece of history this is! It highlights early memories of Orange Blossom Gardens in Lady Lake which eventually grew into the greatest retirement community in the Nation!
I won’t try to recreate the entire document here but I will share some highlights of the piece to give you some flavor for Lady Lake FL in the mid ’70s and early 80′s.
Both single and doublewide manufactured homes were available from different manufacturers until the decision was made to feature only Fleetline homes. A model village was set up on Vermont Avenue along-side the Chapel of All Faiths. A variety of models with a wide range in both size and cost was offered.
Al Tarrson and Harold S. Schwartz were partners in the development of the Gardens which began in the late 1960′s. Mr Schwartz bought out Mr. Tarrson in 1983 because Tarrson wanted to retire. Mr. Schwartz moved to Orange Blossom Gardens to a villa at One Tarrson Boulevard. His insight resulted in the addition of churches, businesses and medical professionals for the residents convenience.
Harry and Louise Miller were settled in by Christmas 1969 as the first residents of the Gardens. The were the only residents until April of 1970.
It’s been reported that the Millers had to run off cows wanting to graze in their yard. Harry was often seen shagging golf balls on Vermont.
In the early years lawn chairs were carried to the top of the hill which was to become the site of the Orange Blossom Hills Golf Club. This was a great vantage point to provide neighbors with a view of a rocket launch or shuttle launch.
Mail was orignally delivered to a “mail room” in the recreation center club house. When the number of residents outnumbered the 69 available mail slots, the post office advised it would discontinue delivery until larger facilities were provided.
A trailer set up on the recreation center parking lot was used until a permanent facility was built on LaGrande Boulevard.
The first mailing address was R. R. 2, Leesburg FL and included the lot and unit numbers of residents. With annexation into the Town of Lady Lake, addresses were changed to use the street names with hyphenated unit and lot numbers. Once the 911 system was put in place house numbers substituted the unt and lot numbers.
The first publication (1973) was entitled The Orange Blossom Special with much of its contents devoted to the comings and goings of residents. Delivery was attempted in 1989 and 1990. For a time it was distributed as an insert in The Leesburg Daily Commercial. Today we have The Villages Daily Sun which is delivered to approximately 80,000 residents.
The first security force consisted of one guard and one relief guard, and they had the use of a “Police” jeep.
A Solo Club (now called the Singles Club) was one of the first social groups formed.
Robberies were frequent due to the easy access from highway 27-441, and as a result the first resident I.D. stickers were initiated as a result.
A closed circuit TV channel called the Wheel was introduced in 1981. We now have the Villages News Network (VNN).
It’s interesting reading about the very beginnings of The Villages! Thanks to those who shared their memories of the early beginings of the community. Here’s the link to the article The History of the Orange Blossom Gardens.
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