EDIT: The History Center reached out to the Morse Museum to ask them to step in to take the sign when they realized it would be too big for their collection.
Orange County Regional History Center was hot on the scene as soon as Bungalower broke the news that Parliament House was to close, looking to acquire and save as many artifacts as possible before they were to move out that same weekend the announcement was made.
Side Note: Because we called them.
Unfortunately, most of the furniture and memorabilia inside the hotel and nightclub were handed out to clubgoers who came to bid the property farewell. By the time History Center staff were permitted to enter the property, there was not much left to preserve besides the iconic sign.
At that point, Morse Museum officials allegedly flexed their ability to better care for the sign in their private sign collection – which we’ve written about previously HERE –
and asked the History Center to step down so they could take the lead. Parliament House’s former owner, Don Granatstein, was happy to send the sign to any willing party, and the History Center wasn’t convinced they had the appropriate resources and space to accommodate the massive sign anyway.
However, a representative of the Morse Museum has since told Bungalower that that offer
from Granatstein for the sign has since been rescinded, as the City of Orlando has entered the game, with plans to remove and store it themselves.
Samantha Holsten, the City’s Public Information Officer, told Bungalower that, “The City of Orlando is working on saving the sign. Staff has been in conversations with the property owner and working on coordinating the removal and storage for the safekeeping of the sign at this time.”
The sign is actually a reproduction of the original, which was damaged by a hurricane in 2004, with modern updates and LED lighting to replace the original neon.
Pam Schwartz, Chief Curator at Orange County Regional History Center (who knows how to make a mean Sour Orange Pie), told Bungalower that the City had reached out to her to let her know they were working with the developer to ensure the sign was saved. Schwartz also told us that while she hopes there will be more conversations in the near future about the best way to store, preserve, and use the sign, a partnership with the museum on those matters is not guaranteed at this time. That being said, the History Center is “… absolutely interested in being involved or being helpful in any way we can in preserving this piece of our community’s heritage.” Says Schwartz.
We are still waiting to hear back from the City of Orlando as to which department is spearheading the sign project and what their game plan is once they have it in their possession.