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Winter Park Library Archive

Sam Stoltz

Innovative artist, decorator and builder who lived and worked in Winter Park.

Born in 1876, Sam Stoltz was destined to design some truly imaginative and unique homes in and around Orlando. He may have grown up on the family farm in Humbolt, Nebraska where his Pennsylvania Dutch parents had settled, but his architectural and decorative creations in Central Florida continue to be of great interest today.

Stoltz left the family farm at an early age in order to study Commercial Art in Chicago. He returned home briefly, but later moved back to Chicago to embark on his career. Here, he worked at different advertising companies, many times in the position of art director. Eventually, he established his own art studio, where he produced original drawings, oil paintings, and portraits. That same year (1911) he also married a young woman who had been his favorite art model, Patti Jo Walker.

Although Stoltz had no formal education or training in architecture, he had an understanding of construction and design. The first home that he designed was located in Winnetka, Illinois, and it was built for he and his wife. Their second home was located in Highland Park, Illinois, and it featured the characteristics that would come to recognized as the hallmarks of a Sam Stoltz design: cathedral ceilings, stucco, masonry, and the feature that would become his signature: a huge stone fireplace. It was here that Stoltz also began to incorporate landscape architecture in his designs.

The couple moved to Central Florida in 1925, settling in Orlando. The first homes that he designed here were a style that he termed "Spanish Orlando". He also began to incorporate aspects of Florida's natural beauty into his creations; birds, fish, and other wildlife began to adorn these homes. Then, his interests were drawn to the community of Mount Plymouth, Florida. Here he created perhaps his best known homes, which he dubbed the "Plymouthonians". These homes are described as having a unique Tudor-style, and featured fireplaces, dramatic roofs and chimneys, fountains and waterfalls made from coquina rocks. His "Plymouthonian No. 2" is said to have surpassed any of previous creations!

While probably best known for his residential designs, Stoltz also employed his artistic and decorative skills to enhance many local business interiors. He created installations, paintings and murals for locations including: Fidelity Title & Loan Company, the Angebilt Hotel, and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. Most of these creations featured the flora and fauna of Florida, as well as the history of the state.

In the late 1920s, Stoltz began accepting jobs in Winter Park. One of the homes that he designed is located at 868 Golfview Terrace. It was commissioned by Mr. Miles Dawson of New York, who requested a "Spanish-type" house. This home offers Stoltz's characteristic textured stucco, coquina-like stone trim, and a rock fountain. Another home that is attributed to Stoltz is located 843 Palmer Avenue. The exterior of this home features stones that have been inserted decoratively into the the stucco, arched doorways and a large fireplace.

In the 1930s, Stoltz purchased several acres of land in Winter Park, which were located on the southern shore of Lake Maitland. They left their home in Orlando and moved into a cottage that was situated on one of the properties. A studio was later added onto the rear of the cottage, and it was here that he created oil paintings, murals, vases, lamps, glass and tile creations and other decorative pieces. He also continued to design the dramatic stone fireplaces for which he was so well known. As the years went by, the Stoltzs added more Winter Park properties to their holdings.

Stoltz died at his Winter Park home on December 10th, 1952. He was 76 years of age..

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