Forrest Lake (politician)

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Forrest Lake
Forrest Lake.jpg
Forrest Lake c. 1910
Personal details
Born (1868-07-15)July 15, 1868
Newberry, South Carolina
Died January 24, 1939(1939-01-24) (aged 70)
Sanford, Florida
Resting place Evergreen Cemetery
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Mary Maude Anno
  • Sarita
  • Maude
Occupation Banker

Forrest Lake was a prominent politician, banker, real estate investor, a mayor of Sanford, Florida and a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Lake had an instrumental role in the formation of Seminole County. In 1928, Lake was convicted of embezzlement and served 3 years of a 14-year sentence.

Early life[edit]

Lake was born in Newberry South Carolina on July 15, 1868.[1] After spending some time in Cuba, he moved to Sanford, Florida in 1886.[2] Seven years later, he became mayor of Sanford.[3] He married Mary Maude Anno in Orlando in 1895.

Lake influenced the Florida state legislature to pass a bill creating Seminole County by splitting off a portion of Orange County in 1913, furthering his political career.[3] He served in the Florida House of Representatives as the Orange County representative in 1911 and 1913, and as the Seminole County representative in 1915 and 1923.[4]

Sanford Charter Bill[edit]

In 1911, the community of Sanford Heights seceded from Sanford, because of discord over municipal services provided by Sanford. This added to concerns that Sanford's ability to expand would be constrained by the surrounding towns of Goldsboro, Georgetown and Sanford Heights, as well as Lake Monroe to the north. Lake led legislative efforts to curtail Sanford Heights ability to incorporate, independent of Sanford. Goldsboro was also a target in Lake's annexation process.[5] On April 6, 1911, the Sanford city council passed a resolution to annex Goldsboro and on April 26, 1911 the Florida legislature passed the Sanford Charter Bill, dissolving the incorporation of both Sanford and Goldsboro, and reorganizing Sanford as a city that included Goldsboro within its boundaries.[6][7]


In 1913, Lake was elected president of the Seminole County Bank, by the bank's board of directors. His real estate investments faltered during the declining years of the real estate boom period of the 1920s. In 1925, he built the 158-room Hotel Forrest Lake (later named the Mayfair Inn) on the shore of Lake Monroe. The posh hotel, built at a cost of one half million dollars resulted in a five million dollar loss for him and his co-investors. Over the next few years, Lake experience similar financial losses. The bank finally closed on August 6, 1927,[8] and the following year, Lake and the bank's vice president A. R. Key, were indicted by a grand jury on charges of embezzling $553,000 from the bank.[9]

Key plead guilty to two charges, and testified against Lake for the prosecution. After a series of five jury trials, Lake was convicted of four bank fraud charges on May 4, 1928 and sentenced to a 14 years prison term by Judge Dewitt Gray.[8][9] He served 16 months of his sentence at Raiford prison before being released on a bond to pursue an appeal. In 1933, he lost the appeal before the state pardon board and was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.[10][11][12]

Later life[edit]

After serving out his prison sentence, Lake returned to Sanford where he lived for the remainder of his life. Following a two-week-long illness, Lake died on January 24, 1939. He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Sanford, next to his wife.


  1. ^ Cavins, William R. (October 28, 2008). "Forrest Lake". Find a Grave. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ Gilmartin, Daniel O. (Spring 1996). "Mayor Forrest Lake of Sanford". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 74 (4): 391–404. 
  3. ^ a b Waitley, Douglas (2000). Best Backroads of Florida: The Heartland. Pineapple Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-1561641895. 
  4. ^ "The People of Lawmaking in Florida 1822-2012" (PDF). Florida House of Representatives. August 2012. p. 96. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ Imperiale, Nancy (May 20, 1990). "Discovering A Lost City Historian Finds Surprising Past Of The Goldsboro Community". Orlando, FL. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Jim (December 15, 2002). "Grapeville Details Emerge - The Histories Of The Swedish Colony And The Goldsboro Area Are Intertwined". Orlando, FL. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bentley, Altermese Smith (2000). Seminole County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-0738506340. 
  8. ^ a b "14-Year Term Given Banker". Sarasota herald-Tribune. May 5, 1928. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Robinson, Jim (May 3, 1990). "Rise And Decline Of Forrest Lake Seemed To Follow State's Fortunes". Orlando, FL. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Forrest Lake Back at Raiford Prison". Palm Beach Post. February 24, 1934. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Lake is Denied Pardon by Board". St. Petersburg Times. December 7, 1933. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ Ping, Dan (April 5, 2009). "Sanford's Archives: Former mayor was turn-of-century Madoff". Sanford, Florida. Sanford Herald. Archived from the original on August 23, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2013.