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Ocala Florida

History

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Mount Dora is a U.S. city in Lake County, Florida. It is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The Central Florida town was settled in 1874 by David M. Simpson, his wife and 2 children. In 1880, it was named "Royellou" by the postmaster, Ross Tremain, after his children Roy, Ella and Louis. In 1883, The Alexander House opened, a 2 story hotel with 10 rooms, and the community was renamed "Mount Dora." It took the name of Lake Dora, which had been named by surveyors in 1846 for Dora Ann Drawdy, who lived with her husband 2 miles south of Mount Dora. The arrival of the railroad in 1887 stimulated the economy, carrying tourists and freight. A popular winter retreat for hunting, fishing and boating, The Alexander House would be renamed The Lake House in 1893. Mount Dora was incorporated in 1910, with a railway depot built in 1915.

R.C. Tremain & Son built the first orange packing house in 1891, although surrounding groves would be destroyed by the great freezes of 1894 and 1895. Box and fertilizer factories were established, as well as a cannery. In 1903, The Lake House was renamed Lakeside Inn, and remains in operation. Visitors included President Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The John P. Donnelly House, a Queen Anne style landmark built in 1893 by the first mayor, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. In 1898, Witherspoon Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, No.111,Prince Hall Affiliate, The Witherspoon Lodge was founded in Mount Dora, and is one of the oldest still active African-American Masonic Lodges in FL. Also on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1902 the members of the Witherspoon Lodge bought the two story frame building at 1470 Clayton St. Mount Dora, FL. 32757, and the Masonic Lodge meetings have been held there since. In the early 1920's the members made the 1st floor of the building as a classroom for the black children of Mount Dora. In 1926 Milner - Rosenwald Academy was built at 1560 Highland Street. It is named after Julius Rosenwald, Chicago (1862-1932), President of Sears and Roebuck. He befriended Booker T. Washington and made him aware of the deplorable conditions of black schools in the South. Rosenwald contributed money to over 5000 scthools in eleven southern states and Mount Dora's Milner-Rosenwald was just one of the other contributions given to Lake County, FL. This money established a foundation to build newer and better schools. A substantial amount of the money contributed was also given by a retired Mount Dora Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Duncan C. Milner (1841-1928). A committed foe of racial discrimination, Milner was a Civil War Veteran who fought in the Battle of Chickamuga. The Academy succeeded in producing many successful alumni. The town today is noted for its crafts and antique shops, historical buildings, and beautiful scenery. The 1981 movie Honky Tonk Freeway was filmed here with the Historical Lakeside Inn which was painted pink for the film, and an Indian Elephant was shipped in and taught to water ski on Lake Dora.