Mount Dora, Florida

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Mount Dora, Florida
City hall
City hall
Flag of Mount Dora, Florida
Location in Lake County and the state of Florida
Location in Lake County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 28°48′23″N 81°38′35″W / 28.80639°N 81.64306°W / 28.80639; -81.64306Coordinates: 28°48′23″N 81°38′35″W / 28.80639°N 81.64306°W / 28.80639; -81.64306
CountryUnited States of America
State Florida
County Lake
 • Total9.50 sq mi (24.60 km2)
 • Land8.35 sq mi (21.62 km2)
 • Water1.15 sq mi (2.98 km2)
184 ft (56 m)
 • Total16,341
 • Density1,957.24/sq mi (755.74/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)352
FIPS code12-47050[2]
GNIS feature ID0287215[3]
Railroad station c.1920

Mount Dora is a city in Lake County, Florida, US. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 12,370,[4] and in 2019 the population was estimated to be 14,516.[5] It is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area. Founded in 1880, Mount Dora is known for its small-town southern charm. It has many antique shops in the downtown area. The downtown area overlooks Lake Dora. Mount Dora is home to one of three freshwater lighthouses in Florida. It hosts many monthly festivals and is known as the "Festival City".


The front entrance of the Lakeside Inn.

The town of Mount Dora began in 1874 when the area was settled by David Simpson, his wife, and two children.[6] In 1880, Ross C. Tremain became the town's first postmaster, and later a major real estate developer for the area.[7] A post office called Mount Dora has been in operation since 1883.[8] Tremain named the unincorporated village Royellou, after his children, Roy, Ella, and Louis.[7]

The community was renamed for Dora Ann Drawdy, who was an early settler of the town in the mid-1880s. In 1846, the surveyors named Lake Dora after her, and in 1883 the town was renamed after the lake.[9] The Mount in Mount Dora reflects the fact that the town is on a plateau 184 feet above sea level.[9] In addition to this, Dora is memorialized through Dora Drawdy Way, an alleyway located in the downtown area.

The town became a popular winter retreat for hunters, fishermen, and boaters, and in 1883 the Alexander House, a two-story hotel, was opened. The Alexander House has been renamed several times and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. A railroad came to town in 1887, followed by an orange packing house, fertilizer factories, and a cannery. The town was granted a charter in 1910 with John Philip Donnelly as its first mayor; the town had 371 residents at the time.[9]

In the 1920s, Mount Dora began to grow significantly, both in residential development and business development. Mount Dora began investing in public infrastructure, including streetlights, a water system, curbs, and paved roads.[9] The first two public parks were created and the Mount Dora Community Building was built largely from funds raised by Mount Dora residents. The building has since served as the city's performance and meeting venue.

In 2013, the City of Mount Dora began to develop an area of land called the Wolf Branch Innovation District. That plan was developed as the Wekiva Parkway started to expand and State Road 453 opened right into Mount Dora. The Wolf Branch Innovation District is currently being developed to become a high tech and life sciences business area. Expansion of infrastructure and roadways continues as Mount Dora prepares for future growth.

Historic sites[edit]

The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

The Mount Dora Historic District is a U.S. historic district in downtown Mount Dora. The district is roughly bounded by 3rd Avenue, 11th Avenue, Clayton Street, and Helen Street. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 2009.[10]


Mount Dora is located in eastern Lake County at 28°48′23″N 81°38′35″W / 28.806519°N 81.642996°W / 28.806519; -81.642996.[11] It is bordered to the south by Orange County. U.S. Route 441 passes through the city, leading west 5 miles (8 km) to Tavares, the Lake county seat, and southeast 25 miles (40 km) to Orlando.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.2 square miles (23.8 km2), of which 8.0 square miles (20.8 km2) are land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km2), or 12.51%, are water.[12] Overlooking Lakes Dora, Gertrude, and Beauclair, Mount Dora is situated on a plateau rising to 184 feet (56 m) above sea level,[13] or slightly more than 100 feet (30 m) above the level of the lakes.


Mount Dora is home to several different museums.

The Mount Dora History Museum is a project of the Mount Dora Historical Society. This museum is the location of the first fire station and city jail, which opened in 1923. The exhibits highlight activities in Mount Dora from the 1880s to the 1930s.[14] The museum is located near Donnelly Park.

The Mount Dora Museum of Speed opened for business in 2001 to adults only and was located on North Highland Street. In 2015 it was named Mount Dora's number one attraction by Tripadvisor for the 3rd year in a row. The museum displayed muscle cars, "pro cars", foreign cars, and a 45+ year old collection of "automobilia" (auto antiques). The staff displayed ten to twelve of their personal cars, and twelve to fifteen cars were on sale at most times. Sadly, The Mount Dora Museum of speed closed in July 2019, and is going to become a bike shop.[15]

Modernism Museum Mount Dora opened in 2013 and is located on East Fourth Avenue. Two stories high, this museum focuses on the Studio Arts Movement, a form of modernism where high art meets craftsmanship, posing the question, "Is it sculpture, or is it furniture?"[16]

The Mount Dora Center for the Arts is a multifaceted community center which provides fine arts gallery exhibitions, education programs for all ages and levels, an annual fine art action, monthly Art Strolls, and helps organize the Annual Mount Dora Arts Festival.[17] Located on East Fifth Avenue, it was founded by a group of volunteers who wanted to celebrate the arts in Mount Dora and to promote and improve their arts festival.


Sunset Park in Mount Dora, Florida in 2019.

Mount Dora is home to several parks and nature preserves.

Gilbert Park is located at the intersection of Tremain Street and Liberty Avenue. This park was named for its donor, Mr. Earl Gilbert.[18] The park includes a barbecue area, several pavilions, and a large playground. The park has recently gone through renovations, which included two new pavilions, upgraded restrooms, new landscaping, and improved parking. The "Wood Wonderland" playground was updated and expanded.

Annie Donnelly Park is located in the downtown Mount Dora area at the intersection of Donnelly Street and 5th Avenue. It is the location of their annual tree lighting ceremony, as well as several of Mount Dora's special events. The park contains, benches, restrooms, a fountain, and shuffleboard courts, a tennis court, and three pickleball courts. It is the location of the Donnelly Park building, which can be rented out for special events.[19]

Grantham Point Park[20] is located on Tremain Street across from Gilbert Park on Lake Dora, Grantham Point Park is sometimes referred to as "Lighthouse Park". The 35 foot lighthouse was dedicated on March 25, 1988. Built of bricks covered with stucco, the lighthouse stands sentry over the Port of Mount Dora. Its 750-watt photocell powers a blue pulsator sending out a guiding light to all boaters navigating Lake Dora after dusk. The Mount Dora Light is the only inland freshwater lighthouse in Florida.

The Lake County Water Authority[21] has several preserves in the area.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[22]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 9,039 households, and 5,236 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,542.0 inhabitants per square mile (739.1/km2). There were 6,942 housing units at an average density of 941.6 per square mile (363.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.3% White, 19.2% African American, 0.1% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.3% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.7% of the population.

There were 4,123 households, out of which 21.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.75.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 20.5% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 21.7% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 27.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,364, and the median income for a family was $46,394. Males had a median income of $30,993 versus $24,259 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,724. About 8.8% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.6% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.


The district is home to two elementary schools, one middle school, and Mount Dora High School. Mount Dora High School is known for their inability to win at football (citation?). The district is also home to nine private schools.

Southern Technical College used to operate a campus in the city which has since closed.


The Mount Dora Center for the Arts hosts the Mount Dora Arts Festival, a juried fine arts festival, on the first full weekend of February. The festival features works of fine art of several hundred national artists. The art is for sale including oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, clay, sculpture, and photography.[23] The festival also includes live musical entertainment and food.

The Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts is held every 3rd weekend in March in the downtown area. The festival includes more than 250 fine and fun hand craft items and original art for sale on the streets of the historic downtown walking district.[24] The festival lasts for two days.

The Sailboat Regatta and Mount Dora Earth Day are held in April. The Regatta, which is hosted by the Mount Dora Yacht Club, is the oldest in the state and will be celebrating its 63rd year in 2016. Mount Dora Earth Day Celebration is a one-day event held on a Saturday around the annual international Earth Day. The event celebrates its 25th year in 2020 in Donnelly park.[25]

The Mount Dora Blueberry Festival takes place on the last weekend in April. This festival is hosted by Visit Mount Dora and is held in Donnelly Park. The free festival celebrates local Blueberry Farms as the industry takes over citrus in the farming community. It is a two-day event[26]

The Mount Dora Seafood Festival takes place in September and began in 2015. The festival includes several booths with fresh seafood, as well as beer, wine, crafters, and activities for children.

The Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce holds Florida's oldest Bicycle festival annually in early October. It celebrates its 43rd year in 2017 and is three-day event. The Festival includes a variety of daily rides, ranging from 8 miles to 100 miles.[citation needed]

Mount Dora's largest event, the Mount Dora Craft Fair, draws over 250,000 visitors every 4th weekend in October. It features more than 400 talented crafters and artists, and includes an eclectic mix of arts and crafts from sculptures to ceramics to paintings to woodworking. The Mount Dora Craft Fair was ranked the #2 Classic/Contemporary Craft Festival 2020 in America by Sunshine Artists Magazine under the organization of festival coordinator, Janet Gamache.[27]

The Mount Dora Plant and Garden Fair takes place on the second weekend in November in Donnelly Park. Growers of exotic and native FL plants from all over Florida gather to share and sell their plants to the public. It is a two-day event[28]

The Scottish Highland Festival is held in November.The event was founded in 2012 and features Scottish bands and musicians, as well as an afternoon of Highland Games.[29]

In fiction[edit]


Mount Dora is the setting for the post-apocalyptic novel Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (1908-1964), under the fictitious name of Fort Repose. Frank lived there with his last wife.

Mount Dora is one of the settings in Steve Berry's action-adventure thriller The Columbus Affair.

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), author of Think and Grow Rich (1937), lived in Mount Dora during the 1930s and 1940s. He lived in a large house called The Castle, overlooking Lake Dora, with a swimming pool on the roof. It was torn down in the 1980s.

The book Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt is also set in Mount Dora.

Mount Dora and several of its landmarks are among the main settings of the fantasy book series The Salem Concord by J.A. Areces.


The buildings in downtown Mount Dora were painted pink for the feature film Honky Tonk Freeway.[30] Being a movie location provided an economic boost for merchants, helped restore the downtown area, and gave Mount Dora a dose of national publicity.

An independent Italian-American production crew filmed a horror film titled Witch Story in the downtown area. The film never was released in the United States.

Two years following Witch Story, an HBO movie titled Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture was filmed. The movie starred Roy Scheider and Bonnie Bedelia.

The tennis film The Break took place partly in the city of Mount Dora. It was filmed by an independent production company and aired on cable TV.

Sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (DP-1), Mount Dora city, Florida". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "History Of Mount Dora Florida". Florida Backroads Travel. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "Lake County". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d "Mount Dora, FL - Official Website - History of Mount Dora". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  10. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". October 9, 2009.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  12. ^ "U.S. Gazetteer Files: 2019: Places: Florida". U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Clark, Alisson (May 10, 1999). "What's in a name?". Ocala Star-Banner. pp. 3C. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  14. ^ "Mount Dora Historical Society Home". Mount Dora Historical Society. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  15. ^ "THE MUSEUM". Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  16. ^ "Modernism Museum". Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  17. ^ "Mount Dora Center for the Arts". Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  18. ^ "Gilbert Park". Mount Dora, FL. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  19. ^ "Donnelly Park". Mount Dora, FL. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  20. ^ "Mount Dora, FL - Official Website". Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  21. ^ "Lake County Water Authority |". September 8, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "Arts Festival | Mount Dora Center for the Arts". Archived from the original on November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  24. ^ "Mount Dora Spring Festival - An eclectic mix of fine and fun hand made crafts & original art". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "Earth Day". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "Mount Dora Blueberry Festival". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  27. ^ "Mount Dora Craft Fair". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  28. ^ "Mount Dora Plant and Garden Fair". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  29. ^ "Mount Dora, FL - Official Website - Cultural Events". Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  30. ^ Campbell, Ramsey (June 14, 1998). "Mount Dora Gets Good Reviews by Starring in Movies". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 7, 2015.

External links[edit]