Thornby's Story Soon to be a Documentary

Documentary will focus on Thornby and Enterprise History

Author(s): PAT ANDREWS pat@beacononlinenews.com    Date: March 20, 2013 Section: News

 

Award-winning documentary-maker Rich Luckin was in West Volusia March 12-15 gathering background and interviews for a documentary about the historic Thornby property near Enterprise. Luckin's documentaries, many of which have appeared on PBS, have garnered him a number of awards. He said he is fascinated by the history of the Thornby property, which lies along Lakeshore Drive in Deltona, bordering Lake Monroe.

 

Showing Luckin around was Sandy Walters of Enterprise, author of The Story of Thornby: How Ordinary People Took on Government. In 2000, the Thornby property was in danger of being developed into a huge townhouse complex. The tract, however, played an important role in Southwest Volusia's history, including the creation of Florida United Methodist Children's Home, and it is home to several species of native Florida plants and wildlife.

 

A treasure-trove for archaeologists, Thornby was home to Native Americans, and is the site of a midden - an Indian dumping ground. The property is also believed to include the site of Fort Kingsbury, built during the Second Seminole War, 1835-42. 

It became Thornby when James Glass bought 80 acres of land lying along Lake Monroe in 1917. He named the property "Thornby" for a friend of the Glass family: Jennie A. Thorn. In 2009, after locals fought long and hard for preservation of Thornby, the City of Deltona purchased the remaining undeveloped 38.2 acres for use as a park and an all-inclusive playground. The price was $3 million, with half paid by the county's Volusia Forever land-conservation program.

 

"What I'm impressed about is the fact that the people had a belief about something, and they really outlasted the opposition, and saved something that was meaningful. I thought it would be a good story," Luckin said. 

He learned about Thornby on a cruise ship last year, where he met Walters and her husband, Roy. They showed him a PowerPoint presentation about Thornby.

 

"So, here I am in Florida. I think it's going to be a great adventure, and a vehicle for people to share their experiences," Luckin said.

 

He plans to focus on the larger Enterprise area, including Green Springs, the lakeshore and other points. Scheduled for interviews, in addition to Walters, were West Volusians Larry French, Carol Aymar, Herb Hiller, Chris Elmer, County Council Member Pat Northey, former Deltona City Commissioner Janet Deyette, former Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder, City of Deltona planner Ron Partion adise, and Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk. Sandy Walters said to expect a local screening of the documentary sometime in the fall, probably at the West Volusia Historical Society in DeLand. It will be free and open to the public. Luckin, a retired public-relations executive who worked for television stations and Coors in Golden, Colo. - where he now lives and has a production studio - retired in 1993. In retirement, he began making documentaries. Several are about trains, one of his passions. Luckin got to ride Amtrak trains all around the country to make Amtrak: The First 40 Years 1971-2011, an award-winning production airing at historical museums around the country. He also made a documentary on the history of railroad dome cars with Dome Car Magic, hosted by actor Michael Gross of Family Ties fame, which aired on PBS stations. 

Luckin said the Thornby documentary will likely be marketed to PBS stations in Central Florida, as it is more of regional than national interest. Luckin is donating his time to the project.