Orlando’s United Trophy Takes on Building Restoration

The 90-year-old art deco building has housed United Trophy since 1968.

Downtown Orlando-based United Trophy is in the middle of a face-lift. Known for its neon signs, the 90-year-old art deco building that has housed United Trophy since it opened in 1968 is getting renovated. 

When the building was new to Florida in the 1930s, it housed a coffee shop and a general retail store. United Trophy Owner Lamont Garber says his goal is to keep the design of the building the same as it was when it was built 90 years ago. The building being renovated is the main location of United Trophy, with two other satellite locations (one of which will be moving to a new spot next year). 

Almost 40 years into the building’s history was when United Trophy moved in. In 1968, Fred Leavy, who passed away a little over a year ago, jumped into the recognition business when first opening the doors of United Trophy in the space that it still calls home. 

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United Trophy occupies the entire 22,000-square-foot building, which takes up the whole block. (All images courtesy Lamont Garber)

The building’s restoration project includes a repair to the original frame and a new canopy, new lighting, windows, stucco, and door framing. The building’s original neon lights and tiles are being repaired as well. According to Garber, vintage vitrolite structural glass gathered from other old structures will be installed to match a new coat of paint to match its art deco style. Once the restoration is complete, a new custom sign will be installed. 

“It’s going to be an icon location for United Trophy,” Garber states. “It’s right in the heart of downtown, which is very unusual, but it’s been there for so long that people know where we are.” 

Garber found out about the business when looking into purchasing the 22,000-square-foot building. “Once I toured and met all the employees, I kind of fell in love with it,” he says. 

Since purchasing the business and property over the summer, Garber and the United Trophy team are working to revamp the entire business, working on the brand and internal operations along with its physical location. “We’re putting a lot of effort into rebirthing United Trophy,” Garber says. As part of the rebrand and modernization, he explains they are redoing the website and bringing everything “up to date.” United Trophy’s showroom is also experiencing a revamp with new flooring and TVs to run promotions. 

Some of the offices are being redone as well. “We’re beautifying the inside,” Garber remarks. However, since most of the restoration is happening on the outside, United Trophy can remain at full operation. 

Other internal changes include the hiring of Chrissy Martinez as general manager of operations at all three locations. Martinez has been with United Trophy for over 16 years, according to Garber. He adds that it’s important for all 30-plus employees to be able to keep their jobs during and after these changes. “They’re all great people and have all been there for many years,” he says. 

United Trophy is working with the City of Orlando’s Appearance Review Board throughout the process. The renovations should be done by the end of March in 2020, according to Garber. 

This is an ongoing story. Stay tuned for updates on the restoration project. 

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Julia Schroeder

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