An Orange County Neighborhood You Should Know: I Heart Lockhart
If you’re driving north along Edgewater Drive past College Park towards Apopka, you may notice the small town of Lockhart. An important hub of lumber and citrus cultivation in the late 1800s, it’s no longer a bustling industrial settlement, but it still possesses a quiet charm and air of historical significance.
“We still live on the original homestead property my family purchased in 1880,” said Lena Issacson, whose ancestors emigrated to the United States from the Uppsala region of Sweden to escape harsh conditions in their homeland. “They came by boat from Jacksonville to Sanford, proceeded by foot through miles of forest and carved out a life for themselves in Central Florida.”
In the late 1800s, this region possessed a wealth of pine and oak trees for construction. David Lockhart, the town’s namesake, saw an opportunity and opened a sawmill. With work available, the town began to grow, and Lockhart quickly became an important location for the transport of lumber and citrus, its two biggest industries.
“Lockhart represents hard-working families like the Isaacsons, one of the five earliest pioneer families in this region, who arrived via rivers like the Little Wekiva and over virgin land to operate vegetable, citrus and cattle farms,” said Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore, District 2.
Transition occurred when David Lockhart sold his lumber company and back-to-back freezes decimated orange crops in the early 1900s. Lockhart’s industrial legacy lives on, however, with building-related businesses such as Finfrock, Cemex and Outdoor Living Products, which all contribute to the continued growth of Orange County.
Isaacson and other residents are fighting to preserve the town’s 140-year-old history and would like to get a historic marker placed on the site of the original sawmill. Additionally, Lisa Mikler, a local artist, is creating a large-scale history mural – replete with logger, train, sawmill and stream (which ran through the town before it was diverted) – that will be painted on the wall belonging to the Edgewater Shores neighborhood at the corner of Edgewater and Lake Lockhart Drive.
“Lockhart has enjoyed over a century of strong industry, civic, educational and cultural groups,” said Moore. “Joining them together to facilitate the completion of this mural will strengthen community bonds, encourage investment and better prepare the town for the changes occurring in Central Florida.”
And most importantly, it will help keep the town’s history alive.
“Imagine a small town built on the shoulders of pioneers who risked everything to make a decent life for themselves,” mused Isaacson. “We don’t want that to get lost in time.”