Backstory and Context
The owners of this beautiful Victorian, century-old mansion were the McBrides. Dr. T.E “Tommy” Mcbride was one of Apopka’s first doctors and he was also the home’s last resident (McKay B1). He lived in the mansion with his wife, Helen, while he practiced medicine. It is believed that this mansion is a “haunted house” (McKay B1) but that the details of the lovers’ quarrel once erupting into gunfire on the landing between the first and second floor of Apopka’s Highland Manor have long since faded (Rodgers 1A). This mansion was originally located across from Apopka’s oldest cemetery. Orlando Weekly says that “he lived with his wife, Helen, on the second floor and saw patients on the first. For more than 50 years, the good doctor kept up his practice, and countless lives were ushered into the world by the popular doc. In 1956, though, his wife, an aviation trainer, took things in a darker direction” (Gavin). In the same article it says “Apopka, Fl (United Press) – Mrs. Helen McBride confessed to shooting an airline ticket agent to death after he slapped her down in a property argument, police said.” Allegedly Helen McBride was confined to the mansion because of the murder because her husband, Dr. T.E, had such a positive impact on the community. The name of the man that was shot and killed in The Highland Manor was Charles Richard Green, “who worked for National Airlines in Orlando” (Gavin). Orlando Weekly also states that “she passed away in her white gown one early morning. Dr.McBride remained in practice at the home until his own passing in 1978” (Gavin).
After the passing of the Helen and Tommy McBride, there were several attempts to turn the mansion into a restaurant. “After Townsend’s Plantation closed in 1997, it sat dormant for years. Since the city purchased it, an eccentric surf-and-turf establishment called The Captain and the Cowboy and later Arrowsmith’s restaurant (not named after the city commissioner) folded after struggling to fill dining tables” (Rodgers B1) Although, those were not the only attempts at restaurants, many people tried and failed. It was in 2008 that the Highland Manor began to host wedding ceremonies and receptions, which is what it is known for today.
In 2011, the owner of The Highland Manor was Richard Wilhelm. He was arrested in July after being accused by Apopka police “of continuing to accept deposits from people planning events in the landmark Victorian home, even though he knew his business would soon be evicted from the city-owned property by the intersection of U.S. Route 441 and State Road 435” (Pedicini B5). The same news article states that “the city of Apopka delivered a notice on May 9 that it would evict Highland Manor unless it paid its back rent within 10 days. Highland Manor owed more than $300,000 at the time, according to the police report. Yet after that date, Wilhelm accepted almost $12,000 in deposits from a half-dozen people for various upcoming events, police said, including $5,000 for a company office party scheduled for June 2, just a few days after the city closed the building” (Pedicini B5).
Previous attempts to turn this century old home into a business have not succeeded. “It’s former owner, Don Green, a Silicon Valley investor and real-estate mogul, had spent $3 million in 2005 on the house and grounds” (McKay B1). He is no longer in business at the Highland Manor. Bethany Rodgers said in 2016 “while the manor now sits next to Martin’s Pond amid clusters of trees, city leaders have visions of transforming the tranquil spot into a city center crammed with shoppers, diners and dog-walkers” (Rodgers 1A). As you can see, this mansion has undergone a lot of changes from different owners, different occupations, and different types of guests. After so many years there are even still plans to see the mansion turn into something else for the city of Apopka. It is a very common place for the people of this community to come by to take pictures for an event or host their weddings which is what it is used for today.
Gavin, Michael. “Haunted Orlando: True Tales of Two Local Haunts.” Orlando Weekly, Orlando Weekly, 11 Oct. 2019, www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/haunted-orlando-true-tales-of-two-local-haunts/Content?oid=2445343.
McKay, Rich. “A Makeover for an Apopka Icon - House with Colorful Past Reopens as Restaurant.” LINCCWeb Catalog Search, 2009, infoweb-newsbank-com.db26.linccweb.org/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news%2F1269FD9DAFEEC468.
Pedicini, Sandra. “APOPKA WEDDING-VENUE WOES - Highland Manor Owner Arrested.” LINCCWeb Catalog Search, 2011, infoweb-newsbank-com.db26.linccweb.org/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news%2F137ED8967AFCB540.
Rodgers, Bethany. “Highland Manor: When Worlds, Eras Collide.” LINCCWeb Catalog Search, 2016, infoweb-newsbank-com.db26.linccweb.org/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news%2F15DC3CBB4A872508.