Condor Merritt

List of People

Died:
1972

Condor Merritt’s life in Altamonte Springs, Florida, was a fascinating journey from humble beginnings to becoming a pillar of the African American community. Initially, he toiled in citrus groves, but after World War II, his savvy and resourcefulness propelled him to financial success. Merritt built a real estate empire spanning Orange and Seminole counties by leveraging his earnings from fruit picking and illegal gambling.

Merritt became a dominant figure within Altamonte Springs, particularly in the East Altamonte business district. His vast holdings encompassed various establishments, from a beer garden and poolroom for leisure to a grocery store and boarding house for daily needs. Notably, he owned the only theater catering specifically to Black moviegoers, ensuring a vital space for cultural engagement.

However, Merritt’s influence extended far beyond mere business ownership. He emerged as a vocal advocate for the Black community, championing education and political participation. He was renowned for his generosity, readily extending charitable support to local organizations. Additionally, he understood the importance of affordable housing, offering rentals at remarkably low rates. In recognition of his lasting contributions, Altamonte Springs renamed North Street to Merritt Street in 1993, a permanent reminder of the man who shaped the city’s landscape.