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Lake Wales Art Centre - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Places to Visit

The Lake Wales Arts Center was, for 60 years , actually a working Catholic Church but is now a cultural centre that offers everything from live musical performances and art exhibits to summer programmes for children.

When the building became too small for the ever growing congregation- a group of interested citizens and community leaders started work in order to secure the building for the community. They obtained a state grant to preserve and convert it into a building the community would find useful- so it became an arts centre and place the local community could use for visual and performing arts.

The building -built in the 1920' s has a Spanish style influence and actually looks as if it dates from a much earlier time . Depending on which way you approach the building you can be forgiven for thinking it was just an ordinary relatively modern building but it is in fact a beautiful building with a large central dome , arched doors and windows and a stately bell tower.

Not only can you go and view the many and varied exhibitions both permanent and touring -you can also go up to the part of the building that still retains the history of the origin of the building. By ascending a narrow staircase -although there is a lift for wheel chair users -you enter a part of the building that reminds you what the building was originally . There are stained glass windows -which when are inspected at close quarters -show clearly that they are in fact mosaics made form glass particles and not the traditional sort -but this does not make them any less lovely to look at. A beautiful wooden floor adds to the church -like feeling and of course now adds performance space to the room as well as being in total keeping with the original.

There is a beautiful domed ceiling here - an admirable feature which must have required highly skilled drafting. The original hidden lighting system in the dome was certainly sophisticated for its time and appears as a modern feature today. On a decorative note the dome’s inside is painted blue with applied stars giving a night effect .

The day we visited we were lucky enough to meet the artist of the current exhibition and she talked us through her painting -which certainly made them easier to understand and interpret!

The arts centre is just one of several building on Lake Wales that form part of a historic tour of the area taking in not only buildings but murals , parks and local attractions such as Spook Hill.
A map of the tour can be collected from The Depot-Lake Wales' museum -which is also worth spending a little while in.

All the places are free to enter although most have the opportunity to give a donation to help with upkeep.

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