It wasn't Alcatraz, but it sure wasn't comfortable.
Mount Dora's jail housed prisoners in the heart of downtown from 1923 to 1969. Built in 1922, the small building served double-duty as both the fire station and the city's jail.
Originally limited to five cramped cells with heavy iron doors, prisoners had to share a single, small wash room. The jail later expanded by adding four double cells with wash basins. The stark, cement cells and no air circulation, fans or screens on the windows making Florida's hot, humid summers unbearable.
Prisoners were typically held for minor offenses such as drunkeness, bootlegging and distilling moonshine, which were common offenses during Prohibition.
The only known successful escape occurred in the 1920's or 1930's. The inmate successfully dug though the wall under the window of the center cell. The prisoner's name is unknown, but he reportedly went home leaving word of his whereabouts and that he would return for trial.
Trials took place at Mount Dora City Hall and were presided over by the mayor. The trials records were lost when City Hall flooded.
The police and fire departments moved into a new location on 4th Avenue in 1941 which is now home to Barrel of Books & Games, a popular downtown store. The jail remained in the Royelleu location. In 1969, the police and fire department moved again. This time to 3rd Avenue between Donnelly and Baker Street which is now an building that was most recently Mount Dora Sushi.
The historic jail now houses Mount Dora History Museum which has preserved some of the jail cells for visitors to enter. The museum is located at 450 Royellou and is open to the public. For information about its hours click here.
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Above: Old Mount Dora Jail cell as it appears today.
Above: The police station moved to this 4th Avenue location in 1941.
Above: The old Mount Dora Jail is now the Mount Dora History Museum.
Above: Another cell as it appears to today with a moonshine still and other historic artifacts of the time.