Backstory and Context
The history of Casselberry goes back to as early as the 1880s when families began settling the area during the Seminole Wars. Slowly, a small town developed with a church, a subdivision, and a cemetery. In 1925, Gordon J. Barnett from New York come to Altamonte Springs and took an interest in the fern business and incorporated Barnett Fern Company and began developing the subdivision known as Fern Park Estates. A year later, a man named Hibbard Casselberry from Winnetka, Illinois traveled to Winter Park with his first wife and two sons to visit his aunt and became intrigued when he spotted some “pretty land”. While visiting the area, Hibbard’s first wife Mel broke her arm and was forced to stay while it healed. Over time, he fell in love with the area and couldn’t imagine going back to Illinois. In 1927, he bought the land from Barnett and develops it into the addition to Fern Park Estate.
Hibbard began building his new-found city “Casselberry” almost immediately with the first post office. Trains began making stops at a nearby depot with supplies and lumbar to start construction of buildings. In 1940, Casselberry became a tax-free town with a population of 100 citizens. Hibbard Casselberry is also made the town’s first mayor. As World War Two began, the demand for fern decreased. Instead, Casselberry decided to start production of bomb parachutes and hospital tent liners. With the money from the production of supplies for the war, the city was able to purchase its first police car. Since the production increased, more people moved to the town and he built 23 houses and a 15,000-square-foot building. Since he built it in 21 days the residents of the town named it the “miracle building”.
The location of the factory that produced products for World War Two was in the general area as the Taco Bell in front of Target on Highway 17-92. When the war began, it called away many of the man in the city and left the town with women and children. With the women left he decided to get commercial sewing machines. After the sewing machines arrived, he also received contracts to make bandoleers the carry ammunition while in combat. The men that were not called into war and stayed behind were also able to participate and made the boxes that were used for shipping products over-seas. When the bandoleer contract came to end they were instructed to make 65,000 bomb parachutes. Since there was such a large amount of bomb parachutes to produce, they were having a hard time meeting contract demands so he hired for more girls to produce products, some as young as sixteen years old. However, when the government came for an inspection and found the girls working too many hours and working too late, Hibbard was taken to court and was required to pay a $7,250 fine.
The town was thriving and production was booming. Hibbard made a decision to build himself and his family a home. In 1952, The Brightwater Estate was developed near the South Lake Triplet and became home to Hibbard and his second wife Martha. The building is a 4-bedroom 4 bath home on a lot of 8.63 acres and sits in the heart of Casselberry at 700 S Lost Lake Lane. The last time the house was sold, it was worth $390,000. In today’s market, it is worth over a million dollars. Even though it is on a large plot of land, the home is very well covered by bushes and large trees. The home has never been renovated and looks like a true southern home with a lake front view and full size swimming pool. There is a paved driveway leading up to the house with a large circle driveway.
Hibbard died in the year of 1969 at the age of 76 years old and leaves the estate to his second wife, Martha and his son, Hibbard Casselberry Jr. As the largest landowner in the city of Casselberry with ownership of Casselberry Land Company and Casselberry Utilities, he was also a 1916 graduate of Yale University and was a Navy Officer at the time or World War One. His body is now buried in the Casselberry Memory Gardens.
City of Casselberry. “Welcome to an Engaged Community.” Casselberry.org, Accessed 4 Oct. 2018, www.casselberry.org/index.aspx?nid=33.
Robison, Jim. “Casselberry’s Namesake Built on Fern Foundation.” The Orlando Sentinel, 2 May 1993, p. 153, www.newspapers.com/clip/16414026/casselberrys_namesake_built_city_on/.
Robison, Jim. “Casselberry Gears up for War Production.” Tribunedigital-Orlandosentinel, 30 Apr. 2006, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2006-04-30/news/SJIMR30_1_war-ii-casselberry-hibbard/2.
Robison, Jim. “Casselberry Sheds New Light on Life of City Founder.” Tribunedigital-Orlandosentinel. 25 May 2003, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-05-25/news/0305230547_1_casselberry-fern-hibbard.
Orlando Sentinel. “Hibbard Casselberry’s Death Aug 23, 1969” Newspapers.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 Apr. 2018, www.newspapers.com/clip/19582729/hibbard_Casselberrys_deathaugaug_29/.