West Longwood

West Longwood was the name of a social entity of families living on the west side of Mr. Henck’s town of Longwood from the 1880s to sometime around 1910. West Longwood’s eastern boundary was considered the families living on the south side of Greenwood Lake (now West Lake), about where present-day Church Street makes a westerly bend out to Rangeline Road. It included all the families living between there and Interstate 4.

This area started to develop around 1880. Families were probably attracted to the area because the soil was suitable for citrus, and they needed a larger plot of land than was available in the town.

The Longwood Social Notes in the Jacksonville Times Union of this era indicate that several of these families came from Natick, Massachusetts. As it was reported in 1888, the area name was suggested to be changed from West Longwood to Nova Natick. But that name never took hold.

Sometime in the 1880s, these families acquired the first Longwood town meeting building, which is reported to have been built in the area where Christ Episcopal Church now stands. When it was built and by whom is not known. It was a large one-room building with an elegant rounded barrel-type ceiling. It was moved to the area where Church Street meets Rangeline Road.

Often referred to as the West Longwood Chapel, it became the home of the West Longwood Pioneers and Self Union. The May 10, 1892 entry in the Longwood News published in the Jacksonville Times Union relates:

“For some ten years past, ladies of the town, now called West Longwood, have given a monthly social consisting of vocal and instrumental music, recitals, plays, etc., ending up with coffee and cake. These socials have been held in the Union Chapel at West Longwood and have always been pleasant affairs.”

West Longwood suffered greatly in the Great Freeze of 1894-1895, and many of its residents returned north.

Interest in maintaining the organization waned after the turn of the century, and the West Longwood Chapel was sold to the Longwood Civic League. In 1912, it was moved back to its present location on Church Street in downtown Longwood. At that time, a front porch and two wings on either end of the chapel were added.

In 1999, it was deeded to the Central Florida Society for Historic Preservation and is now known as the Longwood Historic Civic Center.

The only existing historic building in West Longwood is the Searcy House.

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