A Brief Local History of Mount Dora
[The following is a short summary of Mount Dora's colorful and interesting history. To learn more, visit one of the local bookstores and ask for further information.]
The town that was to become Mount Dora was originally 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.
Famous visitors over the years have 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.
The 1981 movie Honky Tonk Freeway, starring Teri Garr and Beau Bridges was filmed in Mount Dora, and required that a substantial number of buildings were painted pink.
In March 1993, the Storm of the Century ripped into Mount Dora, killed two people, injured dozens, felled trees and damaged buildings. However a full recovery was made and few scars remain.
With a population of about 12,500, Mount Dora is a growing city and a popular tourist destination.