The City of Mount Dora has a fascinating history. The large, beautiful lake upon which the City grew is named for Ms. Dora Ann Drawdy (1819-1885), who homesteaded in the mid-1800s and befriended federal surveyors with her warm hospitality. In 1846, the surveyors named Lake Dora for her, and years later, in 1883, the small but growing town was named for the lake.
Three years later, the town’s name was officially changed to Mount Dora to reflect the fact that the settlement rests upon a plateau 184 feet above sea level – an unusual feature in Florida.
A popular winter retreat for hunters, fishermen and boaters, The Alexander House opened in 1883 – a two-story hotel with 10 rooms. It was renamed Lakeside Inn and remains in operation today. Visitors included Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.
In 1910, the town was granted a charter with Capt. John Philip Donnelly as its first Mayor. With 371 residents, Mount Dora boasted two general stores, a hardware store, a drugstore, two churches and a Townhall. The Mount Dora Voice became the town’s first newspaper.
The early 1920s marked a significant boom in residential growth and business development, and Mount Dora began the transformation from a country town into a city.
The town of Mount Dora was eventually incorporated into a city in 1953 and has experienced growth since that time. Today, Mount Dora is home to more than 10,000 residents. The City retains the flavor of a small town with many historic buildings, its large canopy oak trees and is known for its variety of antique and specialty shops and numerous special events throughout the year.
Eight major annual events including the Mount Dora Arts Festival, an antique boat show, antique car show, sailing regatta, golf tournament, bicycle festival, crafts fair and the annual Christmas lighting festival draw thousands of visitors. Mount Dora evokes that quiet and comfortable “Southern” charm and hospitality of a lakefront community nestled amongst the gentle hills and orange groves of Central Florida.
Whether you are looking for a respite from the pressures of life and seek solitude overlooking our beautiful vistas, or you desire active shopping and recreation to compliment our many festivals and community events, you can find it all in Mount Dora.