Despite resistance, Florida Southern College wins fight to change street to "Frank Lloyd Wright Way"

Many neighbors opposed the change

LAKELAND, Fla. - Despite plenty of resistance, Florida Southern College won its battle to rename a nearly 100-year-old street in Lakeland to Frank Lloyd Wright Way.

Many residents in the area wanted to keep the old name, McDonald Street, because of the historical significance.

The street was named after William McDonald, who developed several neighborhoods.

The college asked the city to rename the street to help point visitors to the landmark it's become with Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and its new Frank Lloyd Wright tourism center.

"It's not right to take away one person's legacy and replace it with another for what is essentially commercial gain for the college," said Ben McConnell, who owns a home on McDonald Street and is one several who oppose the renaming.

"The street has been here for 100 years. It was not named by accident or arbitrarily," he said.

On Monday, Lakeland Commissioners listened to both sides, but the majority sided with Florida Southern, approving the name change.

The college said it's been sensitive to the neighborhood's concerns, but ultimately feels "Wright Way" is more relevant under the circumstances.

"If you think that all history is equal, then no history has value," said Jeff Baker, the architect behind Florida Southern's new tourism center.

"The people at Florida Southern College have built a landmark, so it only makes sense that you would want to direct people to this landmark," he said.

For its part, the college said it will install signage at the visitor center explaining McDonald's significance in Lakeland.

Now McConnell worries this is just the start to losing more of their neighborhood to the expanding college.

"They are turning it into a Frank Lloyd Wright theme park," he said.

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