Theodore Mead – The Man Behind the Mead Botanical Legacy Garden in Winter Park

theowithboatercTheodore L. Mead (Photo:  Courtesy of the Willis family)

The Archives is pleased to share this guest blog post by Dr. Paul Butler, the author of Orchids & Butterflies – the Life & Times of Theodore Mead. In this new biography, he gives readers a view of the personal life of Theodore Luqueer Mead, the scientist who inspired Mead Botanical Garden. Dr. Butler was recently awarded the Rhea Marsh and Dorothy Lockhart Smith Winter Park History Research Grant in recognition of this work.

Thank you, Dr. Butler, for sharing your research and insights with us!


One of the major collections in the Rollins Archives concerns letters, orchid memorabilia and other papers relating to the life of Theodore L. Mead, whose legacy garden is here in Winter Park. Mead was one of the most distinguished entomologists and horticulturists of his day (1852-1936) and his achievements in establishing a world-class butterfly collection and a host of horticultural breakthroughs that fundamentally changed the floriculture of Florida have been well documented – see for example his Wikipedia page. In my new book, Orchids & Butterflies – the Life & Times of Theodore Mead, I’ve offered for the first time insights into Mead the person–how he lived and what made him tick, using as a basis much of the Rollins archival material.

meadbook             Dr. Butler holding a copy of his new biography of Theodore Mead                               (Photo:  Courtesy of Paul Butler)

The incentive in writing the story of Mead came from my interest in horticulture, the discovery of Mead’s letters in the archives, and a chance encounter with a well-known Winter Park resident, Ken Murrah, performing a captivating historical reenactment of Theodore Mead. The historically accurate biography paints a vivid picture of what life was like as a Central Florida pioneer and citrus grower in the late 19th century. The documentation of most of Mead’s life is still in Central Florida but an important later component resides at Coalburg in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia, the ancestral home of his wife, Edith Edwards Mead. This was a treasure trove of photographs and letters that allowed documentation of the last twenty years of his life.

mrstheodorelmead37wpplEdith Edwards Mead at Wait-A-Bit,  the Meads’ home in Oviedo, circa 1902. (Photo:  Courtesy of Winter Park History Center and Archives)

For Mead’s story, a “life and times” narrative seemed particularly appropriate. His lifetime achievements in entomology and horticulture were substantial and significant. As were his generosity of spirit and concern for others less fortunate than himself that endeared him to the communities in which he lived. The times in which he lived—the environmental, technological and cultural changes that took place during his eighty-year life—provided a fascinating backdrop to the narrative. He experienced the birth of photography and became an enthusiastic early adopter; he witnessed the harrowing death of his only child from scarlet fever, the scourge of juvenile mortality with at that time no known cure; and he became embroiled in the heated religious arguments that followed the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In this debate, from his own studies of environmentally-induced changes in butterfly variants, he took the side of Darwin and that brought him head-to-head in conflict with his evangelical mother.

Orchids & Butterflies is the story of the man who kept Florida a “Land of Flowers” – a hybridizer of plants more skillful than Luther Burbank. Edwin Grover, Professor of Books at Rollins College for many years, was of the opinion that there wasn’t a garden or public park anywhere in Florida that didn’t bear his mark in some form or another.

meadholdingallamandawatermarkedTheodore Mead holding an allamanda (Photo:  Rollins College Archives)

Mead’s horticultural legacy garden opened to the public in 1940, proclaiming itself as “Florida’s Finest Garden Spot.” Among the things to see and enjoy in this paradise of tropical plants were 5,000 orchids, rare plants, ferns, club mosses, cycads and palms. The garden had large plantings of azaleas, gardenias, camellias, daylilies, caladiums and roses, clumps of candy-striped ‘Mead-strain’ amaryllis, and a winding half mile trail bordering a creek complete with miniature waterfalls. Highway maps at the time, given out free to tourists, showed the Garden as the only sight worth seeing in the Greater Orlando area, together with Sanlando Springs.

entrancetomeadc               Entrance sign for the future home of Mead Botanical Garden                        (Photo: Courtesy of Paul Butler)

floridamap1940A tourist map showing area attractions, from Scenic Florida (Tallahassee, FL:  Florida State Department of Agriculture, circa 1940)

Today it is a peaceful, natural oasis of calm that has largely returned to nature, but in some of the quiet corners of the Garden, near the main entrance, the curious-minded can stumble across some of the plants that Mead was famous for.

monarchiiibykarenklelsA Monarch butterfly at Mead Botanical Garden (Photo by Karen Klels, via Creative Commons,


Dr. Butler’s book is available at Olin Library (call number QH31 .B88 O73 2016) and the Winter Park Public Library. It will also be available for purchase from local retailers.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Roots of Global Citizenship: Rollins’ First Latin American Students, 1896-1897

cubanvillageontherollinscampus1902watermarked-jpegRollins students from Cuba, 1902

The Archives is pleased to share this guest blog post from Susan Montgomery, Public Services Librarian at Olin Library. Prof. Montgomery’s recent scholarship includes research on the first international students to attend Rollins, who came from Cuba in the late 1890s.  Thank you, Susan!

 * * * * *

From September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.  During this time, we recognize the contributions Hispanics have made to our history and culture.  More than food or dance, it is about people.  People who have either recently moved to the U.S. from Spanish speaking nations or those raised here in Spanish-speaking households. As the library liaison to Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, I am passionate about learning more about the countries of the region and the relations between the U.S. and these countries.

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with 11 colleagues.  Before leaving, I wanted to explore the connection between Rollins and the island country.  During my research I learned that the first internationals students to study at Rollins were in fact from Cuba.  Members of the Gonzalez family, Eulogio and Jacinto, arrived in the 1896-97 academic year.  Subsequently their sisters, Trinidad and Francisca, joined them.  Of course, questions followed. Why did they come to Rollins? How did they learn about Rollins? Do we know anything about their experience?

gonzalezfrancestomokan1917watermarked-jpegFrancisca Gonzalez studied at Rollins from 1897 to 1899 and 1900-1902.  She also taught Spanish at the College for two years (1916-1918).

I uncovered some of the answers but am still looking for more.  George Morgan Ward first served as President of Rollins from 1896 to 1902.  Rollins was a young institution then and looking for new ways to attract students.  The island of Cuba was in the midst of war, the Spanish-American war or the Cuban War for Independence, depending on whose perspective.  Nonetheless, violence was rampant across the island.  The young Gonzalez children traveled to Rollins to continue their education.  Others followed.  It is still unclear how these students learned about Rollins.  President Ward hired Dean Elijah C. Hills, who had traveled and lived in Cuba prior to joining the Rollins faculty.  According to Ward’s papers, he was involved in recruiting Cuban students to Rollins, but to what extent is not clear.  There are notes from a man named B.L. Gonzalez, presumably the Gonzalez family patriarch, who also recruited Cuban students.  Among the documents I found newspaper advertisements about Rollins translated into Spanish.

cubannewspaperadsept1897Rollins advertisement from an unnamed Cuban newspaper, September 1897

For these Cuban students, Rollins College provided an escape from the violence in their home country and an opportunity to continue their learning.  They became immersed in U.S. culture and received instruction only in English.  These students came from successful Cuban families whose financial security was compromised due to the war.  Not surprisingly, serious emphasis was placed on their appearance.  One note from B.L. Gonzalez to Dr. Ward dated May 29, 1902, describes a young man who is traveling with him from Cuba to Rollins.  In it, Gonzalez describes the student: “The boy is 17 years old, white boy and his name is Jose Manuel.”  I am exploring more in-depth their experience in Winter Park while they studied at Rollins.


Students at Pinehurst in 1899. Their average age was 14; most of the boys pictured here were enrolled in the College’s preparatory division and came to Rollins from Cuba,                             under the Latin American Program created by Pres. Ward.

So as my research continues, I find it inspiring that Rollins has maintained some of the values that began in the first years of the college.  Our commitment to global citizenship and responsible leadership was probably not at the forefront in the minds of the first college presidents.  However, Dr. Ward’s willingness to enroll students from another country without strong English comprehension skills demonstrates Rollins as a place of inclusion and acceptance.  The recent resettlement of a refugee family from Colombia, another Spanish speaking country, further demonstrates that commitment. Thus during this month when we celebrate Hispanic culture in the U.S., it is important to remember that it is more than food and music.  It is about people, what we can share and learn from each other and how that relationship is central not only to the past but also to the future.

bretosmiguelwithbaseballteamcroppedwatermarked-jpgMiguel Bretos (front row, left) from Mantanzas, Cuba, played on the Rollins baseball and basketball teams in 1908. In 1925, he wrote fondly of his student days at Rollins and of “Winter Park itself with its beautiful sites,” adding, “I can emphatically say that Rollins is well engraved on my soul.”

~by Prof. Susan Montgomery

Note:  To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month activities at Rollins, please visit Chase Hall. To read more about Rollins’ connection to Cuba, please see Rollins360.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A New Classroom and Historic Image Pay Homage to Rollins’ Professor of Books

groverroombyamandavockswatermarkedThe new Edwin O. Grover Room at Olin Library (Photo:  Amanda Vocks)

The Olin Library and the Rollins College Archives are happy to share this guest blog post from Dr. Eduard Gfeller, a documentary filmmaker and friend of the Library. Dr. Gfeller’s most recent project is a documentary about Edwin Osgood Grover, who was named Professor of Books at Rollins in 1926. Thank you, Dr. Gfeller, for sharing your research and expertise!


It is so great to see Edwin Grover’s classroom re-created on the ground floor of the Olin Library. What a wonderful way to celebrate and memorialize his contributions to Rollins and Winter Park! Edwin Osgood Grover should be a household name, particularly at Rollins. Thank you to the Director of the Olin Library, Jonathan Miller, for spearheading this project. The renovation was made possible through a gift from David F. and Nancy Berto. Dave met Grover while waiting for a bus at the corner of 17-92 and Fairbanks Avenue in 1950, and after spending time in the Army during the Korean conflict, he graduated in 1956. He and Grover kept up a correspondence until Edwin died in 1965.

Edwin Grover (1870-1965) was accustomed to sitting around a large, oval table that had been in his family for over two hundred years. When he came to Winter Park in February of 1926 to talk with Hamilton Holt (1872-1951) about becoming Professor of Books (1926-1949) and learned about Holt’s Conference style of teaching, he wanted to make sure that his students would sit comfortably around oval tables with green felt covers to protect the bindings of the books they would be reading. In the fall, Edwin had the college carpenter build several of those tables at his expense. Grover’s courses were very popular and, in fact, had to be limited to upperclassmen. He taught three courses: the Romance of the Book, Literary Personalities, and Recreational Reading. The Olin Archives has copies of his ample lecture notes and some of the artifacts he used to teach his courses, ranging from Mesopotamian tablets to medieval manuscripts to movable type and modern book making materials.

groverinclassroom1937watermarkedEdwin Grover in class, 1937.  Pres. Holt asked him what kind of classroom he would design for Conference Plan classes, and Prof. Grover envisioned an “oval table, green felt cover to protect the binding of books, students gathered around, bookcases on walls for 2,000 books, and fireplace.” He also noted, “Got all but fireplace.”

Grover didn’t just encourage students to read, he encouraged students and faculty to write prose and poetry alike, and he emphasized how important it was to have one’s creations published. His Angel Alley Press, founded in 1927, published several tomes of Rollins poetry. He also started the Flamingo (1927-1968), the Rollins student literary magazine. His correspondence with Zora Neale Hurston is remarkable and he fostered other writers, including Bucklin Moon ’34.

Grover and Holt hit it off. Together, they created the Animated Magazine, an annual literary show that brought famous speakers to Winter Park, and oversaw its production from 1927 to 1949. Grover was also director of the Carnegie Library (1928-1931), and served as Vice President of the College from 1938 to 1951.

animatedmagazine1941watermarkedHamilton Holt and Edwin Grover at the 1941 edition of the Animated Magazine

After his wife’s death in 1936, Edwin started the Hannibal Square Library. Both Grover and his wife Mertie (1871-1936) were dedicated Congregationalists who strongly believed in the importance of education for African-Americans. Members of the Winter Park Congregational Church remember him from Sunday services: everyone knew “the professor;” he was almost a head taller than the rest of the congregation. Working with young people and educating them to become responsible adults was Grover’s overriding goal in life. He was a textbook and art supply publisher before coming to Rollins and always actively engaged in a number of community and youth initiatives. He founded a “Fecit” club (a forerunner of a Boy Scout troop), taught Sunday School and spent summers conducting a boy’s camp at Apallachee Lake near Boothbay Harbor, ME, and taught at the Blowing Rock School of English and at the Huckleberry Mountain Artist Colony, both in North Carolina. Edwin, together with John H. “Jack” Connery ’35, also founded a Botanical Garden that they named in honor of horticulturist Theodore Mead (1852-1936). As Taylor Briggs, the first director of Parks and Recreation in Winter Park, said, Grover was a mover and shaker.

holtbethunegrovercroppedwatermarkedEdwin Grover (right) with Hamilton Holt and Mary McLeod Bethune ’49H, President of Bethune-Cookman College, in 1949.  Prof. Grover was a trustee of the college (now Bethune-Cookman University).

While checking out the new Grover classroom, make sure you stop at the Archives and see the plaque that Ruth Sherwood (1889-1953) sculpted of him in 1949, and on the way out, check for the Grover stone in the Rollins Walk of Fame.

walkoffameceremonywatermarkedProf. Grover receives a stone in the College’s Walk of Fame on his 88th birthday (June 4, 1958)

The Grovers lived on Osceola Avenue from 1926 to 1943, then on Camellia near Mead Garden. Grover Avenue and the Grover Family grave in Palm Cemetery are the other local landmarks that remind us of this great man who has been called an unsung hero of Rollins and of Winter Park.

For additional information on Edwin Grover and his family, or to view clips from the Grover documentary, please visit

~by Dr. Eduard Gfeller


The Grover Room is located on the first floor of the Olin Library (one flight down from the main entrance) in room 104. When classes are in session there, passersby can see the image of Prof. Grover’s classroom in 1926 alongside our current students, also seated at a conference table before their professor. Prof. Grover surely would have been pleased to see this wonderful juxtaposition of Rollins’ past and present.

groverroomclassbyamandavockswatermarkedA class in session in the Grover Room (Photo:  Amanda Vocks)

We thank Mr. and Mrs. Berto for this gift to the Library in tribute to a man who helped establish the innovative Rollins Conference Plan of Education while proclaiming “The Fun of Professing Books.”

~ D. Moore, Archival Specialist

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“I Feel That You Are All My Friends”: Alexandra Tolstoy in Winter Park

AnimatedMagazine1940Alexandra Tolstoy, the daughter of author Leo Tolstoy, speaking at the Rollins Animated Magazine in 1940

Sometimes it is surprising what one finds–or in this case, doesn’t find–in the archival record. Although Alexandra Tolstoy, the youngest daughter of Leo Tolstoy, spoke at Rollins twice, we have found very little information about her in our holdings. Though we have a good deal of material for many of the other speakers who visited Rollins, for Alexandra Tolstoy the record is slight, without any correspondence or other personal documents.

The records we do have indicate that Countess Tolstoy first spoke at the College’s Animated Magazine in 1937. (The Magazine was an annual event at which contributors read their pieces before an audience, rather than having them printed.) The subject of her talk was “The Relation of Leo Tolstoy’s Philosophy to Communism.”  Since we don’t have a transcript of her speech, what we know of this visit comes mainly from a Sandspur article with the promising headline, “Countess Tolstoy Gives Interview to Student,” (available at, page 3). The piece never quotes the Countess, however, and so has an impersonal feel, seeming mainly to summarize events recounted in her 1934 memoir I Worked for the Soviet.

AnimatedMagazine1937An Animated Magazine audience, circa 1930s. Due to a rainstorm, the event was held indoors during the Countess’s first appearance in 1937.

On that same visit, Countess Tolstoy also spoke at the Congregational Church and gave a talk to “a full house” at the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, where she presented “A True Picture of My Russia” (Winter Park Topics, 2/27/1937). Afterwards, she joined Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and several other Animated Magazine authors at the Bookery, where they autographed copies of their works.

It was most likely at this book signing that she inscribed a copy of I Worked for the Soviet to Prof. Edwin Grover, the College’s Professor of Books.  Prof. Grover later gave this volume to his neighbor, Max A. Weissenburger, a teacher at Winter Park High School. In more recent years, Mr. Weissenburger passed the book on to Dr. Gordon Howell, Associate Professor Emeritus of Physical Education at Rollins. We thank Dr. Howell for generously donating this historic work to the College Archives, where it is now held in the Rollins Collection.

DustJacketThe dust jacket of Alexandra Tolstoy’s memoir, I Worked for the Soviet (1935 edition)

InscriptionCountess Tolstoy’s inscription to Prof. Edwin Grover

In 1940, Countess Tolstoy made another appearance at the Animated Magazine, speaking on the topic of “Finland and Russia.” The next day, an article with the same title appeared under her name in a local newspaper, with presumably the same content. In this piece, she addressed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1939 and called “the Red invader” “the first and greatest enemy of civilization and democracy” (Orlando Evening Star [?], 2/26/1940).

Countess Tolstoy devoted the rest of her life to relief efforts for international refugees and was an early advocate for human rights. In 1939, she co-founded the Tolstoy Foundation, created to aid Soviet refugees. During World War II, the activities of the foundation expanded, as the organization offered assistance to European refugees, prisoners of war, and many others. Alexandra Tolstoy would serve as president of the foundation until 1976, just a few years before her death in 1979.

Though she did not return to Rollins after 1940, we do have correspondence indicating that the College was interested in having her appear in another edition of the Animated Magazine. In 1951, Horace Tollefson (Executive Assistant to Pres. Paul Wagner) contacted the Lee Keedick organization (“Manager of the World’s Most Celebrated Lecturers”), which by that time represented Alexandra Tolstoy and collected fees for her appearances. We don’t know why she did not participate in the program again, but we do know that the Animated Magazine did not pay its contributors.

TolstoyPosterA flyer promoting Alexandra Tolstoy as a lecturer, circa 1951. She had given up her title after becoming a U.S. citizen in 1941, which may be why it is shown in parentheses. Newsreel footage about Oksana Kosenkina and the Tolstoy Foundation, an international incident mentioned here, may be viewed at

We have few words or images from our archival records to share, but Alexandra Tolstoy can be seen relating highly personal memories of her family in this 1970 documentary footage from the National Archives. For our part, we can say that in 1937, Countess Tolstoy said of her visit, ‘After the way in which you have received me here, I feel that you are all my friends'” (Winter Park Topics, 2/20/1937).

~ by D. Moore, Archival Specialist

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rollins Football: A History

The Rollins College Archives is pleased to share this post from our student assistant, Morgan Mueller ’18. Thank you, Morgan!

FirstFootballTeam1904First football team, 1904.

Rollins College, as Florida’s oldest post-secondary institution, is famous for its strong academics, beautiful campus, and many of its more successful Division II sport teams. However, many do not know that for 45 years, Rollins bragged of a fairly successful and popular football team. The Rollins Tars football team began in 1904 and played (with the exception of a few years missing here and there) until their final season in 1949. Though the program was ended many years ago, football programming has fought to make a comeback on campus ever since. This article will discuss what you might not know about Rollins College football, including its history, it success, its decline, and its more recent status on campus today.

The Road to Victory (1904-1908)

The Rollins Tars football team came to be in 1904. Only one game was played in that first season, and it was against South Florida Military College, who scored 3 touchdowns while the Tars scored nothing. The following year they played a total of three games, losing all three. It was not until 1906 that the Tars finally won their first football game against the University of Florida with a score of 5-0, and that was the only win of the four-game season.[1]

firstfootballteampage2The first football team at practice in 1904.[2]

However, by the 1908-1909 season, the Tars football team had become the State Champions, alongside Rollins’ baseball and basketball teams. The football team finished that season with a total of four wins and a tie against Havana YMCA (0-0). The greatest victory of the 1908-1909 season was the game against Orlando City’s Team, in which the Tars scored a whopping 33 points, while Orlando City failed to score anything. For the overall season, Rollins scored a total of 53 points and shut out every opponent, leaving them with a final season score of 53-0. [1]

StateChampionsof1908State Champions of 1908.

 The Effects of War and a Victorious Comeback (1909-1925)

Although the Tars had a rough beginning, they pulled through for the 1909 State Championship and continued to play well (except for 1911, when there was no team) until 1915, when they lost the only two games played that season. The following season was just as rough, and no football was played from 1917 until 1919, most likely due to the draft and war efforts. However, even with two seasons of absence, the Rollins Tars came back fighting and ended the 1919 season with a total of three wins, with their final and fourth game against the University of Florida cancelled. They continued their winning streak and ended every season until 1925 with a winning record.

The Slow March to Victory Over a Southern Rival (1925-1942)

However, the 1925 season was less than spectacular; the Tars lost all seven games played, only scoring a total of 2 points for the entire season. The next five years seemed to be just as bad for the Tars. However, they reclaimed victory in 1931, when they finished with an overall tally of 6-1 wins; the one and only loss was against Miami, a major rival at the time. But increasingly the Tars began to challenge their southern opponent, finally defeating the Miami team with a score of 6-0 in 1932. The Tars ended that season undefeated, with six wins and one tie game. The following ten years were equally kind to the Tars, yielding victorious seasons (excluding 1935).

ImagesofFootballTickets Images of football tickets from 1931 and 1932, featuring different styles through the years and different seat sections.

The Effects of WWII and (De)Segregation (1943-1947)

Football was cancelled after the 1942 season due to the war effort and a lack of male enrollment as a result of the draft.[3] The Tars’ return to football in 1946 was less than stellar, yielding a 4-4 record. However, the Tars became victorious again in 1947 with an overall of five wins, two losses, and one cancellation against Ohio Wesleyan. This game against Ohio Wesleyan was meant to be the final one of the season, and the school’s Homecoming game.[4]

This cancellation was a big disappointment to the student body of both schools, and the reason behind it was nothing short of controversial. As a result of desegregation in Ohio, there was an African American player on Ohio Wesleyan’s team, Kenneth Woodward, but since segregation was still a hotly contested issue in the southern state of Florida in 1947, the Rollins Board of Trustees feared for Woodward’s safety and what might happen if the College allowed the game to take place. President Hamilton Holt himself remarked that since the game was “a community affair” and “Rollins is situated in the deep South” the College “could not be responsible if any untoward event should take place over which it might have no control.”[5]

To further complicate things, if the team were to bring along Woodward, not only did they risk the problem of hate crimes, but Woodward would have to stay in a separate hotel from his teammates, use a different locker room, and even a different bathroom. Many ideas were tossed around between the two schools, one them being for Ohio Wesleyan to play without Woodward, but the trustees of Ohio Wesleyan voted only to play the game with the whole team, refusing to let race be a conflict.[6] Fearing for the player’s safety, the Rollins student council voted to cancel the game instead of risk further dispute.

In a response letter to the Student Body President at Ohio Wesleyan, President Hamilton Holt reflected on this decision, and his words were revealing: “. . . it is personally humiliating to me that we even had to suggest the course we did in the present case. It goes against my grain, but sometimes prudence is the better part of valor.”[7]

OhioWesleyanArticleArticle from Ohio Wesleyan University discussing the circumstances behind the choice to cancel the Homecoming game.

 The End of an Era (1948-1949)

The last season of football for the Tars was in 1949. The fact of it was, the football team required more money than the school could devote to scholarships, uniforms, fields, equipment, and other critical costs. President Wagner discontinued the sport for financial reasons, even with the offer of financial help from support organizations like the Tar Boosters, Inc., who proposed to take over football team costs through the 1954 season. However, many financial records and plans supported that fact that the school could not afford to keep the program, and it was officially ended before 1950. President Wagner offered to host one more season for the 18 senior players with scholarships, but the team voted against this, since many of the players would likely transfer to other schools with strong football programs, and the final season boasted of many wins. Charlie Wadsworth, a writer for the Orlando Morning Sentinel, reflected about the end of the program thusly: “And Rollins will get along just as well or perhaps better without football. It won’t be the same, but the school will get along.”[8]

LastRCFootballTeam1949Photo of the last Rollins football team in 1949.[9]

 Going Behind Enemy Lines and Other Alternatives (1950-2010)

Though football was officially cancelled at Rollins, it did not completely disappear. There were many new ideas throughout the following years about how to continue the tradition of football on campus. One idea came from Myra Brown in a letter to President McKean, suggesting Tars become “Part-Time Gators”[10] and join the University of Florida in Gainesville for a set number of games at student prices. It also involved participating in UF’s homecoming in an attempt to boost school spirit in the fall, seeing as most of the spirit-boosting games were played during the spring, such as baseball and the more popular water sports. However, many strongly opposed the idea, claiming that students coming to Rollins already knew that there was no football team, and that “Part-time Gators” would only boost morale for UF. Either way, the idea never became a reality. But football continued on campus in the form of intramural men’s and women’s flag football teams, which played intermittently with varying levels of support throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s[11], as well as co-ed teams later on. As recently as 2009, Rollins fraternities and sororities picked up the torch, successfully reviving the flag and touch football tradition, but never the full-contact version of the sport.

Football1974TomokanImage from the 1974 Tomokan of a flag football game between Rollins teams. (Fraternity TKE can be seen on some of the shirts).

 The Mysterious Club Years (2011-2014?)

Football started to make a comeback officially in 2011 with the establishment of the Rollins Football Club. Though as only a club officially, they battled many Junior Varsity teams from other Division II schools. The team was established by Jeff Hoblick ’14, who thought Rollins was missing something in its social-sports life. Hoblick not only established the club and began all the fundraising, but was the team president and quarterback.[12] Will Graves ’77 helped establish the Founder’s Program for the young club team, comprised of the initial 10 donors willing to sponsor $5,000 to support the team needs and activities. However, as the club’s members graduated and disappeared from campus, so did the Football Club. Without anyone to continue its leadership, the excitement for the football club fizzled out, and after 2013 all mention of the club stopped entirely. Most assume that it is no longer in existence, but it is possible that the club could enjoy another renaissance should the right group of students come along in the future.

FootballClubFootball club logo from the team’s website in 2011.

 The Spirit of Football at Rollins

Although Rollins may not be currently known for its football team, for 45 years the sport was cherished and supported by the whole of Winter Park and the surrounding Orlando area. And more recent history has proven that Rollins has not quite given up on football; intramural, organized co-ed, flag football games, and a budding club team are all proof that football has remained important for Rollins students’ campus morale and school spirit.

Written and Researched by Morgan Mueller ‘18
Marine Biology and Environmental Studies Double Major
Student Worker in Archives and Special Collections

Note:  a list of the football team’s record from 1904 to 1950 is available at .

[1] Football at Rollins College 1904-1950 (Timeline), Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 1, Folder Football: General, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[2] Players Standing: Chas Swain, Carl Moble and George Phillips. Front Row: Berkeley Blackman, Ralph Benedict and Stewart Ankeny. Not all players are identified.

[3] The Sandspur, Vol. 50, Number 10. Page 11.

[4] Mary Seymour, The Ghosts of Rollins (and Other Skeletons in the Closet)

[5] Hamilton Holt, “Remarks by Hamilton Holt at the Annie Russell Theatre on the Cancellation of the Ohio Wesleyan Football Game. Friday, November 28, 1947 (Speech)” Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 4, Folder: Ohio Wesleyan University: Football 1947 Game, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[6] Mary Seymour, The Ghosts of Rollins (and Other Skeletons in the Closet)

[7] Hamilton Holt to Mr. John P. Adams, 11 November 1947, Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 4, Folder: Ohio Wesleyan University: Football 1947 Game, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[8] Charlie Wadsworth, “Rollins College Decides to Drop Football Too Expensive to Operate on Even Terms it Means Small College Football is Doomed.” Orlando Morning Sentinel, Thursday March 23, 1950. Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 5, Folder: Football 1950, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[9] 1st Row: G. Barrington, J. Bryson, J. Bedortha, L.D., Bochette, D. Brinegar, H. Brumley, D. Daugherty, P. Fay, G. Franklin and B. Gordin.

2nd Row: M. Gruelke, B. High, K. Horton, T. Hudgens, J. Imand, G. Johnson, S. Justice, J. Kelly, C. Knecht, D. Matchett

3rd Row: G.W. Mooney, F. Natolis, F. Polak, B. Rodenbaugh, B. Riggs, S. Smith, J. Swicegood, B. Tate, J. Vereen and D. Work.

[10] Myra Brown to Hamilton Holt, 2 July 1953 Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 5, Folder: Football 1953-1954, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[11] Dick Cohen, “Rollins Takes on Miami in Orange Bowl” The Rollins Sandspur September 24, 1964. Sports at Rollins, Series 5, Box 5, Folder: Football 1960’s 1970’s, Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[12] “Rollins Football Club-Webber International JV 48, Rollins 17” October 24, 2011.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment