The Fruitland Park Library graciously accepted a $10,000 donation from the Bell family for the new Fruitland Park Library’s children’s garden during a recent City of Fruitland Park Commission meeting. The new outdoor space will consist of lush paths leading to a giant 12’ x 12’ chess board and a sensory butterfly garden featuring plants native to Florida.
The garden will honor the memory of Virgil Bell, who passed away at the age of 91. Virgil was the father of current Fruitland Park City Commissioner Christopher Bell and the grandfather-in-law of current Lake County Commissioner Josh Blake.
“Virgil was one of our favorite patrons at the library,” said Jo-Ann Glendinning, Fruitland Park Library Director.
Glendinning later discovered that Virgil was a self-taught artist who sought inspiration from pictures in children’s books. His talents spanned various mediums, including ceramics, sculpture, painting, pen and ink drawing.
“At the time of Virgil’s passing, I told Christopher Bell what my plans were for the children’s garden at the new library,” Glendinning said. “The children’s garden is my way of paying homage to him.”
Virgil Bell also created 22 original pen and ink drawings of historical homes and landmarks in Fruitland Park. His canvas drawings will be featured at the new Fruitland Park Library, as well as a personalized plaque in his honor.
The Virgil Bell Memorial Gardens will be located on the children’s department side of the new Fruitland Park Library, located at 604 West Berckman St. in Fruitland Park, a few blocks away from its current location. Construction for the new library began in March 2018 and finished in December 2018; the library is now in the process of being furnished as staff prepares for its grand opening on Friday, July 19.