In 1912 the Dr. Phillips family moved into the Peckham House at 135 N. Lucerne Circle. The house was remodeled according to the specifications of the Dr.'s wife, Della, by Philadelphia architect L. Percival Hutton. The work included the removal of a two-story porch which was replaced with a large portico on the outside. The interior was modernized with electricity to replace the gas-burning lights. A cellar and two bathrooms were added to the main house, while a carriage house was built for their two sons. This included a second floor ballroom where live entertainment was featured every few weeks. The carriage house and the ballroom were destroyed over the years when local fraternities were housed there.
Dr. and Mrs. Phillips were prominent supporters of the arts in Central Florida. They formed the Mendelsohn Club, a forerunner of The Florida Symphony Orchestra and the mansion was host to many Sunday afternoon musicales for members of the community. These events featured concerts by celebrated musicians from around the world followed by sumptuous buffet suppers, were Orlando's main society events at that time.
Today, Dr. Phillips, Inc. and The Dr. Phillips Foundation continue the work which was started nearly a century ago. The profits realized by Dr. Phillips, Inc. are returned to the community by the Dr. Phillips Foundation in the form of gifts and grants to educational, cultural, and charitable organizations ensuring that Central Florida continues to reap the benefits of "Doc's" work. A gift from the Dr. Phillips Foundation provided the seed money to turn the old power plant into Lake Ivanhoe into the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
DICKENS BY CANDLELIGHT has been presented in six public Central Florida locations since it opened in 1997. In 2015 it will return to haunt the Patron’s Room in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center at 812 East Rollins Street, Orlando, Florida. This room was once the observatory for the former Orlando Science Center, and Dickens by Candlelight was performed in this space in 2009, 2013 and 2014.
DR PHILLIPS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS on Lake Ivanhoe
This interesting building with the big round-topped windows looking out on Lake Ivanhoe was built in the 1920s as a power plant. In the 1960s it was abandoned in the 1960s and stood empty until the 1980s when Terry Olson initiated a proposal to turn it into a performing arts center and home for the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera and the Orlando Theatre Project. With a grant from the State of Florida and $1 million dollars from the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation, the Ivanhoe Foundation was formed to oversee the $3.5 million renovation. In 1988, just before the renovation began, Terry Olson produced a version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol in the cold industrial building that is still probably one of the most creative productions in Central Florida history. The audience actually followed the story from one end of the building to the other.
The second floor of this renovated building was actually once a theatre. The Phillips Theater opened in 1917. The building was secured as part of the Downtown Arts District that Terry Olson headed as the Executive Director of the Central Florida Theatre Alliance (now Arts & Cultural Alliance) and eventually renovated in 2006. The upper floor became an assembly and performance space that RS&C productions turned into the location for it's holiday classic. It is now the permanent home of the SAK Comedy Lab.
For the first seven years of this millennium, DICKENS was at home at the Dr. Phillips mansion at the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne, 211 N. Lucerne Circle, Orlando. (Same Dr. Phillips, different location). Dr. P. Phillips is a Central Florida legend who was a major force in the development of the Orlando area. His past is seasoned with interesting and controversial tales, but whether he was a saint or a tyrant, all agree he made an enormous impact on The City Beautiful.