Donald Houston at Belair Grove


Dublin Core


Donald Houston at Belair Grove

Alternative Title

Houston at Belair


Sanford (Fla.)


Donald Houston at Belair Grove in Sanforrd (present-day Lake Mary), Florida, around 1891.

In 1870, Henry Shelton Sanford (1823-1891) purchased 12,547.15 square acres of land known as the Sanford Grant. Sanford established an experiment station on a portion of the land, located three miles southwest of the city of Sanford. This is an image of Donald Houston, who acted as Sanford's superintendent and grove manager for Belair. Belair Grove extended across 145 acres; 95 of the acres produced orange growth representing a wide range of orange species known to Florida and 50 acres were lemon trees. In Belair alone, Sanford introduced over 140 varieties of citrus plants and worked to determine if Florida citrus growers could introduce new varieties into the growing citrus market. Sanford also grew exotic plants acquired from Central and South America, many of which survived the 1886 freeze.

Sanford mainly used Belair as his own experiment station, but ultimately the findings and reports would be used by other citrus growers throughout Florida. After Sanford's death in 1891, Houston continued to correspond with Gertrude Dupuy Sanford, Sanford's widow, about the state of the groves. The 1894-1895 freezes destroyed most of the citrus crop, leaving frozen oranges covering the grounds because the weakened branches could not support the heavy frozen fruit. Following the great freeze of 1894-1895, Gertrude sold Belair to John Sanford, who in turn sold it to Sydney Octavius Chase (1860-1941) in 1902. Chase & Company did not grow citrus crops again until 1904, when Chase's brother and business partner, Joshua Coffin Chase (1858-1948), came back from an extended stay in California.


Original 2 x 1 inch black and white photograph: Henry S. Sanford Collection, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.


Ensminger Brothers Photographers

Date Created

ca. 1891

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original 2 x 1 inch black and white photograph.

Is Part Of

Henry S. Sanford Collection, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.
Sanford Collection, Seminole County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




79.2 KB


2 x 1 inch black and white photograph


Still Image


Belair Grove, Lake Mary, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
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Originally published by the Ensminger Brothers Photography.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by the Ensminger Brothers Photography and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.


Hazen, Kendra
Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

Westgate, Philip J., and R. Bruce Ledin. "Belair Groves, Sanford, Pioneer in Sub-Tropical Horticultural Introductions." Florida State Horticultural Society 66 (1953): 184-187.
Some Account of Belair. Sanford, Florida: 1889.
Fry, Joseph A. Henry S. Sanford: Diplomacy and Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1982.
Molloy, Leo T. Henry Shelton Sanford 1823-1891. A Biography. Derby, CT: Valley Historical Research Committee, 2009.
Sanford Historical Society, Inc. Sanford. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 black and white photograph

Physical Dimensions

7 x 4.25 inches



“Donald Houston at Belair Grove,” RICHES, accessed June 12, 2024,