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Winter Park Library Archive

Gentile Bros. Company

Two brothers, Lawrence, Sr. and Victor Gentile, well-known pioneers in the Florida citrus industry, owned and operated the Gentile Bros. Packing Plant in Winter Park. From the late 1920's until the mid 1950's, the Gentile Bros. Company was one of Florida's best known and successful citrus operations.

In 1921, according to Claire MacDowell in The Chronological History of Winter Park, the Gentile Bros. Company purchased the Daetwyler Packing house. In 1930 the City of Winter Park granted The Gentile Bros. a three year lease on the property at the railroad crossing on Garfield Avenue (where the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce building is) and permission to build a temporary building. The railroad crossing was to be closed but a walking space was left open for pedestrian traffic. The company built a $1,000 fruit coloring plant on this site. In 1936 the building was destroyed by fire but by 1939 the business had recovered to the point that the Atlantic Coastline Railroad built a new spur track to accommodate its rapid growth that included a $9,500 addition to the plant. The business expanded in 1940 when it opened a new $40,000 warehouse and again in 1946 when a commercial building and private garage was built at New York and Garfield Avenues.

In 1956 Gentile Bros. Company sold "substantial holdings", including the plant in Winter Park to the Minute Maid Corporation. In 1963 Minute Maid Corporation sold the plant's office building to the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Lawrence Gentile, Sr. retired from the citrus business in 1955. His obituary, published in the Orlando Evening Star, November 22, 1971, stated that "Mr. Gentile and the late Dr. P. Phillips were considered the elder statesmen of the citrus industry".

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