...And the heart of Sanford’s Loch Arbor community remains after nearly 100 years
Nestled behind a 50-year-old tree canopy entrance is a community where time seems to move a little slower. A taste of old Florida awaits those who drive down its majestically wooded streets. But for those who call Loch Arbor home, a stroll through the Sanford neighborhood is also a walk down memory lane, telling tales of generations past.
What makes Loch Arbor even more unique is that for nearly a century, four families have stayed not only in the area, but in the same homes. Current Homeowner’s Association (HOA) president Bob White, who has lived there since the 1970s, chuckles as he says, “I’m still considered a newcomer. You don’t see that very often!”
Beverly Mason, who founded the Loch Arbor HOA in 1971, is in the same boat. Although her family’s home ownership does not trace back a full century, she has lived in her house for an impressive 51 years.
“I always thought we should tell the story of Loch Arbor,” says Beverly, who works with the Seminole County Historical Society.
So, that’s exactly what Lake Mary Life decided to do. Meet these four Sanford families – each with decades of history in their same Loch Arbor home – who are a living link to the community’s rich and storied past.
The Symes/Greenlee Family
The first and oldest home in Loch Arbor, built by Roy Frank Symes and his wife Florence, dates back to the early 1920s. At the turn of the century, Roy Frank left the chilly climate of Michigan and a lumber business to become a celery farmer in Sanford. After living in Sanford and then Winter Park, he and Florence decided to build their estate closer to the farm. Their new home, and the surrounding area, had been owned by General Henry Shelton Sanford himself. The adjacent land is today’s Chase Groves.
According to Sonja Greenlee, the home’s current owner, family legend has it that during Roy Frank and Florence’s time, they could hear the alligators roar in DeForest Lake behind their home. Sonja explains that, sadly, within a short period of 10 years, Roy Frank and his two sons all passed away. Katherine Symes Greenlee (Sonja’s mother-in-law), the daughter of Roy Frank and Florence, inherited and lovingly restored her family’s beautiful two-story Victorian home. Around 1978, Sonja and her husband, Robert F. Greenlee, became the next generation to call the property home and raised their family in the same hallowed halls and rooms.
Although Robert maintained the historical ambiance of the home, in the 1980s he created something completely modern in the apartment above its garage: a recording studio. But this was nothing amateur. Designed by the same audio engineer who worked with the Bee Gees, the recording space “was known as the state-of-the art studio in Central Florida,” remembers neighbor and longtime friend Alinda “Punky” Lingle. Renowned musicians such as James Taylor, his brother Alex, and blues legend Taj Mahal were drawn to Robert’s studio, home to King Snake Records. During the course of its nearly 20 years, King Snake Records produced more than 100 albums on Robert’s independent blues label.
Today, the street is much quieter than it was during the musical heyday, but Sonja enjoys the memories as well as the longtime friendly camaraderie in the neighborhood. When she walks her dogs down the street, she says, “It becomes social hour. Everybody waves and often stops to chat.”
The Lingle Family
Punky Lingle, a third-generation member of this fascinating family, affectionately remembers that during her childhood, she mowed the Greenlees’ yard for $15. She also used to water-ski in DeForest Lake behind the Greenlees’ home. Her family still laughs at a legendary tale in which her mother shot an alligator right in the eye to protect her children. Sue Gladman, another friend and neighbor, remembers this story well.
“It wasn’t all pristine – we had some pretty rough-and-tumble times,” she jokes.
It’s these kind of cross-generational memories that keep all the families in Loch Arbor close.
Construction on Punky’s original family home began in 1938 and finished in 1940, when her father was only 12 years old. He would recount to his children that, in his own childhood, he’d ride his horse into town.
As an adult in 1956, Punky’s father decided to raise his family just a stone’s throw across the street, and he built the house where Punky grew up. Two years prior, he had become the new owner of Hollieanna Groves, the thriving citrus company that is still in business today in Maitland.
The Schirard/Gladman Family
Susan “Sue” (Schirard) Gladman and her family also live in the home where she grew up. And, not surprisingly given the Loch Arbor history, Sue was born in the house across the street. Her grandfather John Schirard owned the property (originally a boathouse built in the mid-’20s) since 1944 and lived next to the Lingles back when there were only about 10 homes in the neighborhood. Like other Loch Arbor residents of the time, he too was a farmer, co-owner of the former Patrick Fruit Company.
The Schirard property was a public park before Sue’s grandfather purchased the two-story boathouse and added on to it bit by bit. He raised his family there, and in the 1960s, his son Jack (and Jack’s wife Hope, Sue’s parents) moved in and raised Sue and her four siblings. Remembering her childhood, Sue recalls every Loch Arbor yard running continuously into the next, and, she adds, “the kids would trespass all over and fly our kites.”
Although Sue’s parents eventually retired and moved to Colorado, her grandfather never left. Not even a broken leg he suffered while fixing the roof of the old family home would drive him away. He became a fixture in the community and lived in a side house on the property until the grand age of 99.
The Boyd/Durham Family
Dede Durham is a proud third-generation owner of what was formerly the home of her grandparents, C.M. “Pop” and Abbie Boyd, who owned the property since the late 1930s. They had moved from South Carolina and lived in various locations throughout Sanford until stumbling upon Loch Arbor. Abbie loved it, but Pop was hesitant. He didn’t want to be “looking into the sun every day when he left and again when he came home,” as he put it, describing the neighborhood’s location west of downtown Sanford. Fortunately for all concerned, Abbie got her way, and the Boyd family took residence.
After World War II, Abbie and Pop fit about 10 people into their two-bedroom/one-bathroom home. A blended-generation family could be fodder for reality TV today, but not so for the Boyds. They simply remember it being fun, with no one fighting, kids sliding on the waxed floors, and games of penny poker. It was during this time that Dede’s parents met. Her mother was good friends with the Boyd girls. They regaled her with tales of their brother Mills Boyd, who was off at war. When Mills returned and met his sister’s friend, the pair happily became a match.
Like others in Loch Arbor, the Boyds owned their own business. Theirs was an insurance agency in Sanford, which Pop opened in 1935. Mills joined his brother-in-law Al Wallace (the Wallaces are also Loch Arbor residents) in running the agency after Pop died suddenly in 1957. When Mills and Al retired in the 1980s, the business was passed down yet again. This time, it was to Al’s son and Dede’s husband Don Durham.
“When they retired recently, the Boyd-Wallace Agency was the oldest insurance agency in the state of Florida under continuous ownership,” says Dede.
Although Dede had wonderful memories of her grandmother’s home, she never imagined she’d one day be its owner. When her grandmother moved to a nursing home in 1982, fate played a hand. Dede and her husband Don were renting a home and looking to buy. Number one on her list of criteria? An old house. The timing was perfect, and the Durhams have lived there ever since.
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