Left: old. Right: new.
Left: old. Right: new.

Photos of a new paint job at Lake Mirror generated both admiration and condemnation on social media in the first few hours after they were posted tonight. The point of contention: Should the gates on the loggia along the Frances Langford Promenade have remained off-white or is the new black preferable?

Lakeland parks officials contracted with Shamrock Painting for the work, city spokesman Kevin Cook said. “There was virtually no paint on the gates and we had them painted to preserve the metalwork.”

[box]This article, originally published May 19, 2016, was updated the following morning with comments from the city historic preservation planner and deputy parks director.[/box]

The new color was praised by Jim Edwards, who was instrumental in the 1987 restoration of the promenade as then-president of Historic Lakeland Inc.

When the loggia was built in the mid-1920s, there were no gates, Edwards said. So the black paint, which causes the gates to disappear into the background, is true to the original intent.

The gates “were installed to keep out vagrants and such and later to protect the materials stored in the interior rooms,” he wrote on Facebook in response to a photo of the loggia posted by local photographer David Dickey Jr.

“They were silver at one time but repainted to match the restored light poles. The gates are not original but added around the late ’40s,” he wrote in response to another set of photos taken by Dickey and posted to Facebook by lkldnow.

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But some people were caught off-guard by the change. Take wedding planner Deana Maselli Brower: “Omg! Wtf! I have brides getting married here! Why is it black?” And a few moments later: “Ugh retirement 2017 here I come.”

Other critics of the black paint said things like:

  • “You can’t see the gates from a distance. I don’t like it.”
  • “Don’t like! 😠”
  • “That is just crazy, I know!”
  • “Bad choice…”

Positive comments were equally short: “Looks great” and “Much needed; looks great.” One Instagram commenter echoed the Rolling Stones: “My motto: paint it black! Always works :)”

Photographer Dickey started a skeptic, calling the incident #‎loggiagate‬. But he saw it in a new light after hearing Edwards’ explanation.  “I’d imagine that having no gates at all wouldn’t be such a light trap. That would actually be great if they came down,” he wrote.

City historic preservation planner Emily Foster amplified Edwards on the use of black: “I agree the black paint recesses these features and does not make them readily apparent. This is appropriate, as the arched loggia is the architectural feature of prominence; the gates are secondary features,” she wrote in an email.

Final word goes to Pam Page, Lakeland’s deputy parks director: “We selected black because the white broke the visual flow of the original design.  The loggia was designed to be open; the black gates give the illusion that the loggia is open which is in keeping with the intent of Charles Levitt, the landscape architect and designer of the project.”

She added: “The frieze around each arch is now the predominant architectural feature of the loggia.  Before, the white gates interrupted the visual field and took away the emphasis of the intricate frieze carvings.”

Here are the Facebook posts that generated the comments:

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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