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Winter Park Library Archive

Robert Dhu MacDonald

Scottish businessman, adventurer and Winter Park enthusiast!

Robert Dhu MacDonald was born in 1843 in Glasgow, Scotland, where he was trained in the American export trade. At age 16, he journeyed to South America seeking adventure and wealth; it was the beginning of years of exploration and travel that would take him around the world. From overseeing sugar plantations in British Guiana to railroading in Canada to managing iron foundries in New England, MacDonald did it all! He retired to Winter Park and built a colonial home on Lake Maitland, Greyacres, where he tended to groves of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines. MacDonald was active in city matters, and he was also president of the Union State Bank and chairman of the Board of Directors. He died at Greyacres in 1927.

Robert's wife, Mrs. Mary Hopkins MacDonald, had come to Winter Park in 1908. She was chairman of the Park Committee for six years, planning and executing parks, at first in the face of much resistance from people who believed Winter Park did not need beautifying. Mrs. MacDonald also assisted in securing a new railroad station and removing unsightly signs and fences in the city. Before marrying Robert, Mary was, for many years, the Exchange Editor of the Century Magazine. A member of literary circles of the time, she wrote under the name Mary Catherine Vredenburg and was a close associate of Mark Twain. Mrs. MacDonald died in 1930.

This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.