Melville Dewey in Florida

I’m preparing for my annual trip to Ave Maria University for the Musica Sacra Florida Chant Conference.  This entails a lengthy drive down the midsection of Florida (of which there is a great deal).  A memorable moment along the way is always Lake Placid, the Caladium Capitol of the World.  (The Caladium Festival is the last full weekend in August, if you want to plan for it.)

As a former library administrator, imagine my surprise when I found that the one and only Melville Dewey (yes, the Dewey Decimal System) played a leading role in the town’s history.  Here’s a bit from the Chamber of Commerce website:

By 1926 the Florida building boom resulted in tourists flocking to the town and businesses sprang up everywhere. In 1927 Dr. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging library books, arrived in the area. Finding the locale remarkably similar to his native Lake Placid, N.Y. due to the lakes, Dr. Dewey had visions of a resort town as the semitropical branch of the Lake Placid Club in the Adirondack Mountains, which he had formed in 1893. Dewey’s first move was to open a 100 room hotel in mid-town for wealthier tourists and then to build a three hotel complex collectively called the Lake Placid Loj – the spelling the result in Dewey’s simplified spelling approach. The Loj is the present site of the Lake Placid Conference Center. In 1927, at Dewey’s urging, the town’s named was changed to Lake Placid by legislative act and has remained so to this day.

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About Mary Jane Ballou

Mary Jane Ballou’s life in sacred music began in a children’s choir at the age of three. Instrumental music waited until her piano lessons started in primary school. And her music life remains a joyous pairing of sacred vocal music and the instrumental repertoire of Spain, Ireland, and Scotland.

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