Villager Angela Love has taken on a new challenge as a history museum specialist at Baker House in Wildwood.
Built around 1890 by Sen. David H. Baker, the 1,200-acre property was home to five generations of Bakers. It was donated to the City of Wildwood in 2012 after much of the acreage had been sold to The Villages for development.
“I discovered Baker House when I (wrote stories) for Villages-News.com,” says Love. “I covered their Christmas tours, their Heritage Festival and I was just enamored of this house.”
But, in Love’s opinion, the attraction wasn’t well-known – even in the local area.
“When I’d say ‘Baker House,’ you’d get a blank stare or a vague ‘I’ve heard of it. It’s way out there. Right?’” Love says.
Actually, it’s close – 6016 County Road 44A in Wildwood. From the Baker House front porch visitors will see the nearby rooftops of The Villages. And, to make it even better, the house and grounds are said to be haunted by some long-gone members of the Baker family.
Finding the job ad “was one of those fluky things,” Love admits. “I hadn’t closely checked my emails in a couple of months, but that particular day I did – I don’t know why – but when I read the job description I was just like check, check, check – everything they were looking for.”
She views her main job as bringing awareness of the Baker House to the residents of Central Florida and to visitors who come here. Her initial goals are ambitious and already under way, even though she’s only been on the job for a couple of months.
“We’re starting to do more special events – we have a wedding planned for late this month and we’re starting to do school programs,” she says. “We need a better kitchen facility and we’re looking at summer camps.”
Love credits the dedicated volunteers with being the backbone and soul of the undertaking.
“Baker House was all-volunteer-led and operated for the first six years,” Love says. “They raised money, led tours, restored the buildings and furnishings. They raised money for a new roof. We’re now working on restoring and painting the outside of the buildings.”
Other special events at Baker House include the popular Victorian Valentine’s Teas and the Heritage Festival scheduled for Saturday, March 21. The highlight of the year is the Christmas Tours in late December each year. The House is bedecked inside and out in period decorations.
The buildings consist of a main house, which is furnished with originals and donated items. The connected two-story kitchen building is being restored. Kitchens were often separate from the main home because of the danger of fire.
One of the more pressing issues is what to do with the rooms full of donated period furnishings and household items.
“A lot of people call and want to donate things, which is awesome, but the home is relatively small, and we just can’t take everything that’s offered,” Love says.
Another new innovation is the Wednesday opening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and public tours led by the volunteer docents.
“It’s meant for smaller groups,” Love says. “Two or three friends might come to see the House, join one of the tours, and then have lunch together as a day together.”The tour cost is $10 per person and all of the money goes directly into the restoration fund. Larger groups can book private tours at (352) 461-0134 or (352) 446-3778. Click HERE for more information.
Growing up a “dandelion child” – Love’s father was an Air Force pilot – she figured that by the time she had completed her journalism degree at James Madison University, she had attended at least 20 different schools.
“I went to three different schools in first grade,” she laughs.
After some time in Boston, Love settled in Richmond, Va., where she worked in conference planning with historic Wickham House, which dates from 1812, and the Richmond History Center. She operated her own tour company organizing trips to Washington, D.C. and New York. With family in the Central Florida area, she decided to move to the Village of Country Club Hills in 2012 with the intent of becoming a freelance writer.
Again, in 2015 serendipity brought her together with Meta Minton, editor of Villages-News.com. “My sister and I were in a 5K run. I saw Meta interviewing people at the finish and thought, ‘She’s not interviewing for the church newsletter.’ I walked over and introduced myself. She found out I had a degree in journalism, we had coffee, and that was it.”
As a correspondent for Villages-News.com, Love told the stories of many Villagers.
“There are an amazing number of Villagers working hard to give children scholarships and other help,” she says. “It’s really heartwarming.”
Love has shifted her love of journalism from writing to public speaking.
“I’m attending the National Speakers Association Academy in Tampa and we have our version of ‘Ted Talks’ called ‘Toast Talks’ through the Toastmasters organization,” she says. “I know some people stress over writing their speech. That’s the easy part for me. I had a big fear of actually speaking in public. So, I’m very surprised that I’m actually doing it.”
John W Prince is a writer and Villager. For more information visit www.GoMyStory.com. If you know of someone with a good story, contact John at John@GoMyStory.com.