When Reverend John J Bridges DD and his wife Isobel retired to Orlando, they commissioned an architect named Wilson C Ely from Newark, New Jersey, to design their new home. The property was completed in 1916, and Ely’s creation was the first of its kind. In contrast to those that came before it, the JJ Bridges House was understated and elegant. Having departed from the grandiose style employed by previous Orlando architects, Ely ushered in a new era of home design: Colonial Revival.
Originally built in 1893 as a wedding present for the daughter of a military colonel, the home was later purchased by Doctor Philip Phillips, known as ‘Florida’s first great orange juice baron’. It was Phillips who made major renovations to the residence, adding extra bedrooms, a cellar and a carriage house. After Phillips death in 1959, the house was deeded to the city, and later acquired by the owners of a nearby bed and breakfast: The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne. During The Courtyard’s renovation, original architectural details were discovered and brought back to life. Hidden beneath layers of paint on the central staircase was beautiful woodwork, for example. A two-story porch was added as well as central air conditioning, making the home a perfect place to stay while visiting the city.