Center Street Gallery
A gallery created to make art accessible to everyone
The Center Street Gallery was created by Jeanette McKean in 1945 in order to celebrate local art and make these works of art available to the community. Upon opening, it was under the direction of Donald Greason, Professor of Art at Rollins College. On the occasion of its opening, a short article in the Winter Park Herald revealed that the Gallery would afford an outlet for the creations of talented artists, architects, photographers, and allied craftsmen of the area.
The Gallery was first located in a small corrugated metal building on Center Street, which runs parallel to Park Avenue. When the Gallery expanded into its later space on Park Avenue, furniture, decorative accessories and interior design service were added. In 1969, the art gallery was moved into the adjacent building and exhibited the work of contemporary Florida artists and craftsmen, in addition to classic prints, and paintings by American and European masters. When the Gift Division was added it was situated in the original site and specialized in distinctive gifts and decorative accessories for all occasions. The Gift Shop offered a wide variety of gifts, including crystal by Lalique, Waterford, and Swarovsky, kitchenware, jewelry, domestic and children’s gifts, and the widely popular Christmas items. Early managers of the gift shop included Kit Rutledge and Dorothy Lockhart Smith.
The Gallery closed in 1994. The closure came soon after of the retirement of the store managers, Dick Hill and Bill Keeley, who had managed the gift shop for ten years. During their time at the Center Street Gallery, Mr. Hill was known for his colorful window decorations and Mr. Keely focused on managing the daily business affairs. The community enjoyed the window treatments that Hill created and it is said that they were visual feasts for Park Avenue shoppers.
After the death of Jeanette McKean in 1989, husband Hugh McKean inherited the business. After Hill and Keeley retired in 1994, Mr. McKean stated that he didn’t want the store to stay open without them. He added, “We wanted to go out with fond memories . . . “
Before it closed, the Center Street Gallery was Winter Park’s oldest gallery of fine gifts and fine art. It was located at 136 Park Avenue South, opposite Central Park. It had been a wonderful fixture in Winter Park.