Tavares, Florida

Coordinates: 28°47′47″N 81°43′26″W / 28.79639°N 81.72389°W / 28.79639; -81.72389
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Tavares, Florida
The Old Lake County Courthouse in March 2007
The Old Lake County Courthouse in March 2007
Official logo of Tavares, Florida
"America's Seaplane City!"
Location in Lake County and the state of Florida
Location in Lake County and the state of Florida
Tavares is located in Florida
Location in Florida
Tavares is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 28°47′47″N 81°43′26″W / 28.79639°N 81.72389°W / 28.79639; -81.72389
Country United States of America
State Florida
County Lake
 • Total13.96 sq mi (36.17 km2)
 • Land12.37 sq mi (32.03 km2)
 • Water1.60 sq mi (4.14 km2)
Elevation118 ft (36 m)
 • Total19,003
 • Density1,536.71/sq mi (593.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code352
FIPS code12-71225[3]
GNIS feature ID2405571[2]

Tavares (/tʌvˈɛəriz/, tuh-VAIR-ees) is a city and the county seat of Lake County, Florida.[4] The population at the 2020 census was 19,003,[5] and in 2019 the population was estimated to be 17,749.[6] It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Union Congregational Church in Tavares.

Organized in 1885, and completed in 1888 on land donated by St. Clair-Abrams, the Union Congregational Church was the first church in Tavares.

Tavares was founded in 1880 by Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, a newspaper and railroad man from a Creole family in New Orleans[citation needed] . He gave it the surname of a Portuguese ancestor. In 1883 a post office was established; by the next year, a hotel, three stores, a sawmill, and eight cottages were built.[7] St. Clair-Abrams's dream of Tavares as the state capital was not realized, but in 1887 it was designated the county seat of Lake County. St. Clair-Abrams later chartered a railroad from Tavares to Orlando. In 1919, Tavares incorporated as a town.

Groveland Four[edit]

In 1949, the Groveland Four, were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949.[8] One was killed after fleeing, and three were convicted at trial in Tavares. The two adults were sentenced to death and the minor to life in prison. The Supreme Court of the United States overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial for the two capital defendants. One was killed while being transported to Tavares in 1951. Walter Irvin survived the shooting by the sheriff and was convicted again at trial.[9] In 1955, his death sentence was commuted to life. He was paroled in 1968 and died in 1970. In 2016, the city of Groveland and Lake County formally apologized to families of all the men for injustice; in 2017, the Florida Legislature issued a formal apology and exonerated the men, calling on the governor to officially pardon them.[10]


Tavares is at 28°48′6″N 81°44′1″W / 28.80167°N 81.73361°W / 28.80167; -81.73361 (28.801670, –81.733548).[11] It sits on an isthmus between Lake Eustis to the north and Lake Dora to the south. The city of Eustis borders Tavares to the northeast, and Lake Harris is to the west.

U.S. Route 441 passes through the north side of Tavares, leading east 6 miles (10 km) to Mount Dora and west 10 miles (16 km) to Leesburg. Florida State Road 19 joins US 441 through part of Tavares, but leads northeast 5 miles (8 km) to Eustis and southwest 14 miles (23 km) to Florida's Turnpike in the outskirts of Groveland. Tavares is 32 miles (51 km) northwest of Orlando and 43 miles (69 km) southeast of Ocala.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Tavares has a total area of 13.7 square miles (35.6 km2); of this, 12.2 square miles (31.5 km2) are land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2), or 11.62%, are water.[12]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 9,700 people, 4,471 households, and 2,821 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,368.3 inhabitants per square mile (528.3/km2). There were 5,475 housing units at an average density of 772.3 per square mile (298.2/km2). The city's racial makeup was 88.98% White, 7.70% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.04% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.46% of the population.

There were 4,471 households, of which 16.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 21.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.01 and the average family size was 2.48.

In the city, 14.1% of the population was under the age of 18, 5.8% between 18 and 24, 19.8% between 25 and 44, 22.2% between 45 and 64, and 38.0% over 64. The median age was 56. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.

The median household income was $31,337, and the median family income $36,243. Males had a median income of $28,911 versus $20,271 for females. The per capita income was $19,942. About 6.6% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those 65 or older.



The Tavares Seaplane Base[14] is a city-owned, public-use seaplane base on Lake Dora in Tavares.[15] The base is popular and gives rise to the city's nickname, "America's Seaplane City".

Panorama of the Tavares Seaplane Base and Marina on Lake Dora

The LakeXpress is Lake County's public transportation and has been active since May 2007. It is a fixed-route transportation service that runs every hour from Lady Lake to Mount Dora with circulator routes in Leesburg and Mount Dora.[16]

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tavares, Florida
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. ^ "Tavares city, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau. April 1, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  6. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  7. ^ "History of Tavares Includes Explorers, Developers". Orlando Sentinel. 1 March 2000. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Accused Of Florida Rape 70 Years Ago, 4 Black Men Get Posthumous Pardons". NPR.org. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  9. ^ "PBS - Freedom Never Dies: The Story of Harry T. Moore - Florida Terror - Groveland - Introduction". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  10. ^ "'It's all or nothing': Families of 4 black men accused of 1949 rape ask for exoneration". NBC News. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  12. ^ "U.S. Gazetteer Files: 2019: Places: Florida". U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Show, Christine (November 22, 2008). "Tavares keeps it simple in naming seaplane base". Orlando Sentinel.
  15. ^ "Tavares Seaplane Base & Marina". City of Tavares. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  16. ^ "LakeXpress - Lake County's Fixed-Route Public Transportation Service". www.ridelakexpress.com. Retrieved 2015-11-20.

External links[edit]