Facebook Twitter Pinterest Gmail Bob Hattaway takes great pride in the way Seminole County was back in the day and how it has grown. Former state representative Bob Hattaway shows off some old photos of people and places in Seminole county from “back in the day.” Little did the residents of Seminole County — once […]
Bob Hattaway takes great pride in the way Seminole County was back in the day and how it has grown. Former state representative Bob Hattaway shows off some old photos of people and places in Seminole county from “back in the day.” Little did the residents of Seminole County — once a sleepy agricultural town — know what would soon be in store for the area. In only a few decades, the cities of Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary and Sanford would experience rapid and continued growth. On April 25, 1913 Seminole County was established. In the 1950s, the area boasted a modest population of 26,883. Today, tourists and relocated snowbirds have helped boost the number to over 430,838, making Seminole County one of the fastest growing counties in Florida. But just ask anyone who lives here, and they will tell you that the area, in all the decades of growth, has maintained its small-community feel. No one knows this better than Bob Hattaway of Altamonte Springs.
As a former state representative and presently an investor and real estate owner, he had a clue as to the change that was to come. Born in Seminole County, Hattaway and his family would have a heavy influence in the area. “I was born in what is called Lake Orienta which my father, back in the 50s, paved the road and developed the Orienta property into Orienta Gardens, a residential development. He sold lake front lots at that time for $2,000 a lot,” Hattaway says. In fact, Hattaway’s father was such a strong presence, Hattaway Drive between State Road 436 and Plumosus Drive in Altamonte Springs now exists. “It was named after my father. Local boy done well,” Hattaway says. Back Then Hattaway remembers the area being thick with citrus growth and thin on populous. “When I graduated Lyman High School in 1955 there were 12 boys and one girl in my class in grades 1-12. Very few people were going to college at that time.
Most of us were looking for some way to be employed, and the only thing available was dealing with the agricultural business,” Hattaway says. The only major road was 17-92 from Orlando to Sanford and 441 from Orlando to Apopka. The road between those two major highways was 436. Lois Jackson, who was married to the first mayor of Lake Mary, Don Jackson, agrees. “When we came in ‘61 the population was like 87,000 for the whole county. Sanford was a big city then, even bigger than Orlando because of the agriculture. Then it turned into housing developments,” Jackson says. In fact, agriculture was Hattaway’s chosen career. “My father was a nursery man plus a real estate developer. I was able to go to school on his knowledge,” he says. Hattaway made the decision to build green houses and sold plants statewide. “When I built the green houses in 1972 I knew the buildings would have a greater use in the future.” Those buildings have been converted and are now used for his storage business to house recreational vehicles.
He is also a holder of several properties in Altamonte Springs. Seminole College and Adventist Health Care are now on 434 and 414 in that same area. But of course, the big news for the Central Florida area back in the day was the announcement that Disney was coming. “Walt Disney told us that the major impact would be tremendous and we needed to prepare ourselves and to build roads for the future. The governor back then proposed to the legislature that we pass a one cent sales tax that would go toward transportation needs from Key West to Pensacola. It was visionary. Amazingly, it failed on the ballot,” Hattaway says. “None of us had the vision that governor Hayden Burns did. It was a tragic mistake in our state. He lost the reelection because the people didn’t realize the impact that Disney would have.” Seminole County Today “The opportunities today have really improved, especially for young people to have great expectations for a future which you didn’t have in the ‘50s,” Hattaway says. Married and with two daughters, Hattaway is proud the community continues to improve in many ways so that his own children and future generations can benefit.
The only drawback, as Hattaway sees it, is that the state hasn’t provided the transportation needs with I-4. “The road network is the weakest point in our community. Our saving trade has been the Orlando Expressway Authority. They stepped in to meet the needs of the community by building toll roads,” Hattaway says. “I love living here and the people are wonderful,” Hattaway says. “The growth has been phenomenal but it still has a small community atmosphere where most people know each other. The growth and opportunities, gosh, you look at the state college and the state educational system and the opportunities are great that weren’t here in the ‘50s. I’m proud of this community. I’m proud of the leadership of the elected officials. I consider the ‘land of opportunity’ is the Central Florida area today.” Bob Hattaway is proud of Seminole State College, which has been a part of the community since 1966.