1855 (approx.) - Contrary to legend, Dora Drawdy and family build a cabin on the shore of Lake Beauclaire, after Lake Dora had already been named on the 1848 survey.
1873 - 'Doc' Henry settles land at the edge of Mount Dora Township and plants first orange grove in the area. His daughter, Gertrude, is for whom the lake was named.
1874 - David M. and Mary Vann Simpson homestead on a piece of property overlooking Lake Dora. Simpson was one of the few founding fathers from the South. He and later his father, Milton, came to Mount Dora for farm land.
1875 - William and Annie Stone homestead 160 acres in what is now downtown Mount Dora. He abandoned her and the divorce judge granted her the propery. Her father, Clark McDonald, also homesteaded in Mount Dora and later had the street named after him. Stone has one daughter, Nellie, and eventually 3 grandchildren.
1879 - John Philip Donnelly arrived from Pennsylvania and homestead's a property northwest of Stone's property
1880 - Post Office was established Post Master Mabbette's wife is credited with naming the town Royellou from Ross Tremain's three children's names; Roy, Ella and Louis.
1881 - J.P. Donnelly marries Annie Stone.
1882 - Nelson Williams registers his homestead and is the first African-American homesteader. His property was in East Town. One of his sons was the first African-American child born in Mount Dora.
1883 - The original part of Lakeside Inn is built and called the Lake House. The First Congregational Church is organized.
1886 - A lot happened that year. First school is built. Segregated, the white children attended during the regular school year and African-American children attended during the other months. The first railroad to Mount Dora is built. The first newspaper, Mount Dora Voice, is published
1887 - The railroad opens in Mount Dora.
1887 - Congregational Church is built.
1893 - J.P. Donnelly becomes a builder and carpenter and builds a large Queen Anne style home for his wife, Annie. The house, called The Donnelly House, is now a landmark and still sits on Donnelly Street near 5th Avenue. (
1896 - Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church is built by African-American homesteaders on the southern edge of Mount Dora on a hill across from its current location. Read more
1898 - A clay bicycle path was constructed from Eustis through Mount Dora to Altamonte Springs and Sanford.
1906 - WIlliam Watt House was built on Grandview and 3rd Avenue with a windmill used for a water pump to irrigate the orange grove. The home is now Grandview Bed & Breakfast.
1900s (early) - Population grows in East Town section of Mount Dora.
1902 - First gas-powered car appeared driven by James Laughlin
1904 - Mount Dora's 22,000 square foot Sydonie Mansion was completed.
1908 - Annie McDonald Stone Donnelly dies.
1910 - Town is incorporated. J.P. Donnelly is elected to be the first mayor of Mount Dora.
1913 - Mount Dora Yacht Club was built for $5,000. Read more
1914 - First streets are paved and an ordinance is passed banning cattle from roaming the streets.
1915 - Construction of the city's railroad depot by The Atlantic Coast Line. The building has been home to the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce since the 1970's. (Read article on 2015 restoration)
1920's - To attract Northeastern tourists, Mount Dora Redevelopment Project forced African- Americans to move from downtown homes they owned. Read more
1921 - The owner of a Minnesota boat building company, Wise Boat Works, was commissioned to build a wooden sailboat for the Yacht Club. Some members also commissioned Harry Wise to build boats, including Charles Edgerton, president of Lakeside Inn. This was the beginning of Boat House Row. Read more
1922 - Serious fire engulfs the east block of Donnelly Street between 4th and 5th Avenues due to an unattended iron. City Hall and other important buildings are lost. Construction begins on fire department. Read more
1923 - The all-volunteer fire department occupies the 2,000 square foot building. This served as the only public restrooms for African-Americas under the Jim Crow Laws. The back of the firehouse became the jail with five stalls Prisoners were kept at the jail until 1969. Read more
1924 - J.P. Donnelly sells property across Donnelly Street for a park to be named for his late wife, Annie Donnelly.
1926 - After a fire, a replacement church was built for Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church in same location as original.
1926 - New segregated school, the Milner-Rosenwald Academy, is built for African-American students in East Town in the current place of Mount Dora Middle School. Read more
1928 - Lawn Bowling Club opened with three rinks and 20 founding members with help of Charles Edgerton, owner of Lakeside Inn and member of the city's parks commission.
1929 - J. P. Donnelly buys the Guller House and sells it to the city to use as City Hall.
1920-30s - Calvin Coolidge and his wife frequently visit Mount Dora
1930 - J.P. Donnelly dies. Mount Dora Community Building is built on Baker Street.
1941 - Fire House moves to 4th Avenue along with police. Jail remains in original building.
1940's (late) - Many racial incidents and visibile KKK activity occurs during the time of Sheriff Willis W. McCall. Thurgood Marshall drove through the area during the investigation of the high-profile Groveland case.
1961 - The secret and private atomic bomb shelter was built by 25 prominent Mount Dora families in the height of the Cold War, The 'Catacombs' were reported to be the largest private bomb shelter in the country Read more
1965 - Mount Dora schools are integrated. Milner-Rosenwald Academy becomes Mount Dora Middle School
1979 - Mount Dora History Museum opens
1981 - "Honky Tonk Freeway", a comedic feature film, was a box office flop. The film was set in Mount Dora after painting the downtown entirely pink. Read more
2018 - Wekiva Parkway opens providing greater connectivity to Metro Orlando area. Read more
For more historical photos, click here
For stories of historical interest, click here
Sources: Mount Dora Buzz articles, "Gimme Shelter" article by Bill Sievert, Mount Dora Historical Society and Museum located at 450 Royellou, downtown Mount Dora. Open Tues-Sunday, 1-4 pm.
Above: Donnelly Street at 5th Avenue.
Above: Congregation Church
Above: 5th Avenue downtown.
The Donnelly House.
Click here for more historical photos.