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Orlando, GLENDONJO & Much More

715 N. Garland Street, Orange Avenue at the Railroad Tracks


A Summer History Series by Rick Cronin

Part One: A DAR Picnic at GLENDONJO

Fourteen patriotic ladies, each a member in good standing of the Orlando Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution, gathered on the 14th of June 1913 to celebrate Flag Day by having a lakeside picnic. The social event was reportedly held at “a beautiful home” of one of Orlando’s well-known DAR members, a residence that has long since vanished.

Or has it vanished?

Today, a wide expanse of concrete serving as westbound lanes of Interstate 4 blankets the once-upon-a-time site of GLENDONJO, the one-time estate of John M. Cheney. It was here, on 14 June 1913, that the Orlando Chapter of the NSDAR celebrated Flag Day 1913.

Interstate 4 at Colonial Drive in Orlando. Lake Concord (left) of I-4, and the 1883 House (right)

Across the wide expanse of I-4 today, hugging the Interstate’s east wall, and tucked between the modern-day interstate highway and railroad tracks first laid down in 1880, sits a historic home that, according to the Orange County Appraiser’s Office, was built in 1883. Currently serving as a business office, the one-time home faces Colonial Drive but has a Garland Street address. Autos and Sunrail trains pass by this home nearly every second of the day carrying thousands of folks going about their busy day, but how many, I wonder, realize this historic roadside residence was built 141 years ago?

During the past 140 years, can you imagine the Orlando history this old home has witnessed? A sleepy little village prior to the arrival of the first train in 1880, by 1886, the vibrant county seat became known as “The Phenomenal City.” In 1908, Orlando changed its slogan to “The City Beautiful,” a new nickname conjured up by one of the fourteen DAR attendees at the 1913 DAR picnic. 

One year after the residence was built according to county records, a land agent named John G. Sinclair commissioned a bird’s eye sketch of Orlando. Sinclair hung the sketch in his downtown Orlando real estate office and used the map for promoting land sales. Historians have used this very map for decades as a research tool to learn of Orlando’s intriguing history. The major portion of Sinclair’s 1884 map shows the downtown area, but in the lower left corner, on the fringes of downtown, appears a remote residence, located in the vicinity of Lake Concord and alongside the railroad tracks.

Portion of 1884 Bird's Eye View of Orlando at Lake Concord

Is the lakeside residence shown on Sinclair’s 1884 map the same historic home now standing beside the railroad tracks on Colonial Drive east of Lake Concord?

Orlando’s DAR picnic was celebrated thirty years after John G. Sinclair’s sketch of Orlando had been drawn. A hundred years have passed since the DAR picnic of 1913 and that lakeside home we see sitting beside the railroad tracks. Although the home we see today is not exactly a lakeside home – even without all the I-4 concrete separating it from the shore of Lake Concord, the question persists - are the homes one and the same? And if so, what's the history of this place?

This summer series has as its goal to accomplish three parts of Orlando’s fascinating history. One, is the present-day house at Colonial Drive and the railroad tracks the same home shown on John G. Sinclair’s 1884 map? Two, who were the incredible Orlando women who attended the 1913 Flag Day Celebration at GLENDONJO, the private residence of “Mrs. J. M. Cheney?” And three, is this historic residence - 140 years old per Orange County records – GLENDONJO?

Mary Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ (Alexander) Cheney, better known in Orlando history as “Mrs. J. M. Cheney,” was a member in good standing of the Orlando DAR, but not because of her husband’s family heritage. John M. Cheney did in fact qualify for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution, but Elizabeth’s acceptance, like that of every Society member, was approved as a DAR member because of her family heritage.

Elizabeth (Alexander) Cheney was the great-granddaughter of Patriot Abraham Hill. Elizabeth’s great-grandfather had served at both the Siege of Boston and the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution. Our Nation is currently celebrating the Revolution's 250th Anniversary.

Orlando: A History of the Phenomenal City, and my Award-winning, The Ladies were Daughters Too – available at Amazon, or, on August 22, 2024, from 4PM to 7PM, you can pick up your very own signed copy at Writer’s Block Bookstore in Historic downtown Winter Park.

Honored to be part of Writer's Block Bookstore Local Authors Summer Event


In this series you will learn of each of the fourteen DAR members as well as fascinating tidbits of Orlando history. In Part Two, for example, I'll tell of the connection the lakeside home has with the naming of Lake Concord. And in celebration of America’s 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution, each of my posts (and my next book - coming this fall) adds the connections Central Florida's earliest pioneers had with the American Revolution.

Next Wednesday - Part Two.

Upcoming in-person events and presentations can be found on my Home Page at      

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