The Tyrannosaurus Rex was 42 feet tall.
Earlier this month, the Tyrannosaurus Rex statue at the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens crumbled and fell. The Port Orange community immediately took to Facebook to respond to the news, posting photos and writing “RIP."
As for myself, it was a shock. I mourned the loss for the gardens and that my son would never get to see the T-Rex. It holds a soft spot in my heart because my husband took me to see the dinosaurs and explore the Sugar Mill as one of our first dates. We went back multiple times over the last few years to take photos and reminisce but never got around to taking our son, who will be 2 later this year. It's sad how time catches up to you; it's a great reminder to not take it for granted.
“The loss of the T-Rex is sad,” said Jennie Taylor, vice president of Botanical Gardens of Volusia Inc., the company that maintains the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens. “The county came by and picked up the pieces.”
From about 1948 to 1952, Dr. Perry Sperber leased out the property from J. Saxon Lloyd for a theme park. This theme park consisted of a replica Seminole village, a miniature train that took visitors around the park, and “prehistoric monsters” constructed out of chicken wire and concrete that were made by Dr. “Manny” Lawrence.
These creatures were made in Holly Hill by Lawrence, a concrete sculptor/cement worker from Museum of Natural History Models. He constructed the 42-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex, 30-foot Stegosaurus, 25-foot Triceratops, and 8-foot Dimetrodon for the opening of “Bongoland."
The former theme park known as Bongoland was owned by Sperber, the first dermatologist in Daytona Beach, and was named after Bongo, a large baboon that lived on the property.
The park operated until 1952, when it closed due to “lack of public interest," according Taylor.
In 1963, Lloyd landscaped the site, retained the dinosaurs, and donated it to Volusia County in hopes to preserve the historic ruins and landmarks. You can see what remains can be seen as you walk through the old Sugar Mill and Botanical Gardens.
The reason the T-Rex fell is unknown, possibly due to age; however, there was a heavy rain the day it fell, Taylor explained.
There are currently no plans to put the T-Rex back together as it is beyond repair, although there has been some interest in recreating it by Daytona Rocks, according to Taylor.