Edith Tadd Little
Artist • Designer • Organizer • Civic Leader
Edith Tadd Little was born in Philadelphia, PA. Early on, she was educated with private tutors, but later graduated from the school that her father (educator J. Liberty Tadd) created, the Industrial Art School in Philadelphia.. Her mother (Mary Margaret Ivins) was a well-known artist of the times. Edith Tadd seems to have acquired her love of drama, literature and art during her childhood. She was surrounded by many famous and talented people during her childhood, because of connections and friendships that her family had developed. She went on to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied painting and sculpture. In her artistic career, Edith exhibited her artwork in Philadelphia, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Chicago.
She married Dr. John Forsyth Little, MD., professor of anatomy at Jefferson Medical College. They had three children, Margaret, John, and Sally. Her husband went into the medical corps during World War I, and subsequently died due to the influenza outbreak.
By 1920, Edith Tadd Little was living in Saint Petersburg. She and her children were brought to Florida in 1918 by her mother when Edith was very ill. Together, they created the Saint Petersburg School of Art and the Saint Petersburg Art Club. While living there, she established herself as a gifted interior designer and she became known for her commercial work, decorating the fine hotels and clubs in that city.
In 1930, she was persuaded to come to Winter Park by Rollins College president, Hamilton Holt and actress, Annie Russell, to pursue her career here. These two people were among the many that her father had known and befriended. She re-located to Winter Park in 1930 and purchased a home on Lake Mizell. The home, known as Bonnie View, was located at 929 Osceola Avenue. Over the years, Edith did an incredible amount of work at Rollins College, especially in the Annie Russell Theater and in the Knowles Chapel.
In 1938, she opened her interior design shop on 504 N. Park Avenue. She ran this business for twelve years, finally selling it in 1950.
As a Winter Park resident, the two achievements that she is most remembered for are the concept, inspiration, and promotion of the Christmas cards that hang from the city's lamp posts every year during the holiday season, and her involvement in the creation of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Known as a strong force in promoting Winter Park's cultural character, she also focused on preserving the city's trees and natural beauty.
She was widely known for her creative drive. Some of the phrases that were used to describe her were:
"Dynamo!" "Whirlwind!" "Cheerful as a blue jay." "A born leader!"
"Exceptional talent for organization!" "Vitality!" "Her capacity for civic and humanitarian work was legendary."
She received two important honors for her work in the city she adopted: Rollins College's Decoration of Honor (which was awarded to her by Hamilton Holt) and the official designation of "Mrs. Winter Park" . . . which she was named by the city commission in 1959.
Known professionally as a painter, designer, and interior decorator, she was known by those who knew her personally for her vast knowledge of art and for her tolerance and understanding.
She died on June 4th, 1960 at the age of 77.
This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.