Who was Dr. Phillips, and what does his story mean for our community? Click on a timeline item to learn more about the pivotal moments in the life of Dr. Phillips, his family, and the legacy of charitable giving that our organization continues today.
On January 27, Philip Phillips is born in Memphis, Tennessee to Henri Philippe and Isabel Philippe, both French citizens, and spends his early years in Middle Tennessee. Philip later attends an academy in Keene, New Hampshire and medical school at a Polyclinic connected with Columbia University in New York City, earning the nickname “Doc”.
On March 2, Della Wolf is born in Mobile, Alabama to Benjamin and Anna Wolf, and later attends finishing school in Mobile and New Orleans. Della is classically trained in piano and music theory and develops a love for the arts. Dr. Phillips marries Della Wolf in 1901. Later, Della is a founding member of the Mendelssohn Club, a forerunner to the Florida Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Phillips first comes to Florida intending to enter the cattle business but instead purchases a citrus grove near Satsuma. The grove is wiped out in the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 and Dr. Phillips returns to Lebanon, Tennessee to practice medicine. In 1897, Dr. Phillips returns to Florida and purchases land in Kissimmee with the intent of raising cattle. Dr. Phillips also later purchases a citrus grove on Big Sand Lake. Over the next two decades, Dr. Phillips acquires thousands of acres of citrus groves across Central Florida.
On March 27, Howard Phillips is born in Lebanon, Tennessee. Howard spends his early years in Orlando and attends Orlando High School and then Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Howard attends Harvard University and graduates in 1923 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Howard serves as an Army supply officer in Europe during World War II and achieves the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before being called home in 1945 to help run the family business.
The Dr. P. Phillips Company constructs the largest and most modern citrus packing house in the world at Sand Lake. The packing house complex also includes a fertilizer plant and a private airport nearby. With the addition of housing for citrus workers and a post office next to the train station, the Dr. Phillips community is established.
In order to eliminate the metallic taste from canned orange juice, the Dr. P. Phillips Canning Co. begins exploring new methods of pasteurization and develops a process called flash pasteurization, significantly improving the taste of canned juice. By 1931, the Dr. Phillips cannery at the southeast corner of Orange Avenue and Princeton Street is producing 24,000 cans a day.
The War Food Administration awards the canning plant division of the Dr. P. Phillips Company the first “A” in Orlando, the highest award given to war food production plants. During the 1944-45 harvesting season, the Dr. P. Phillips Company produces approximately 800,000 boxes of fresh citrus fruit and approximately 555,000 cases of canned citrus juices, of which 238,497 cases of canned citrus juices are furnished to the armed forces.
The fresh fruit packing operations and principal grove holdings of the Dr. P. Phillips Companies are sold to the Minute Maid Corporation and its affiliates. The sale is one of the largest single grove transactions in Florida history and includes over 3,000 acres of groves in nine Florida counties (Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, Polk, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, and St. Lucie).
Dr. Phillips and Howard organize the Committee of One Hundred of Orange County to aid dependents of law enforcement officers and firefighters who have lost their life in the line of duty. Pictured here is Howard Phillips being honored in appreciation of his service to the Committee of One Hundred of Orange County, Inc. in 1977.
The Dr. P. Phillips Memorial Hospital is opened by a predecessor to AdventHealth on land donated by Dr. Phillips to provide acute care services for African Americans who had no place to go for these services. Over 10,000 people attend the opening. Howard Phillips helps recruit two African American doctors to relocate to Orlando to practice medicine at the hospital. With integration the hospital closes in 1964, but the building is repurposed as a nursing home and continues to be operated by Guardian Care today.
Dr. Phillips, Inc. begins redevelopment of historic properties in the Dr. Phillips community and The Packing District bringing essential services to the community and creating value that is ultimately returned to the Central Florida community through charitable grants to worthy nonprofit organizations.