Seminole County residents will generally recognize the name “Markham” as part of the prominent north-to-south Markham Woods Road running along the west side of I-4 from west of Sanford to Longwood. This route used to connect the no longer existent town of Markham to Longwood. It roughly followed the routes of modern Markham Woods, EE Williamson, Rangeline and West Church Avenue. In fact, albeit misplaced no where near Longwood, there is a stretch in northwest Seminole County still bearing the name “Longwood Markham Road.”
So as West Church Avenue oddly diverges from its generally straight east-west route to a northwesterly curve after Florida Avenue, we remember this heritage.
It was an important road, not just because it connected Longwood residents to the Wekiva River and the towns of Glen Ethel, Paola, Monroe and Markham. More importantly, it connected Longwood with its early sister community. On what is now Rangeline Road was the town of “West Longwood” and the intersection of Rangeline and Church Avenue was known as “Stum’s Corner.” Though only separated by a few miles it was considered its own community and it had its own churches and school house.
The prospects of this area blooming into something more substantial were frozen–literally–during the winter of 1894-1895 when the Great Freeze struck the area. Many people packed up and simply left town, while others moved from frontier into more well established towns. Although over time residents would come back and it continued to have an independent identity for decades, West Longwood was mainly done as a standalone community after that point. The Self Union church there was moved back to Longwood (along the Old Markham Road no doubt) and is now the Historic Civic Center.
Today along West Church Avenue, not far from the historic district, we can find the old Searcy home built in 1888. There are also a few remaining structures from early the 1900s in the West Longwood and Stum’s Corner area, though most have been torn down due to lots of development in the area since the 1970s. The Stum home, constructed in 1930, still sits as a bright yellow beacon it has always been at the western terminus of Church Avenue into Rangeline Road.