ABOVE: Historical photo of Elizabeth Evans Park. (Mount Dora archives)
By Susan Meyers Mount Dora Buzz Historical Columnist
What once was a swampy alligator pond and part of the city dump is now a beautiful park on the shores of Lake Dora. In 1926-27, when Charles Edgerton was President of the Parks Commission, the area was cleaned up, and fill dirt was brought in to create a park known as Lakeside Park. The park included a recreation center for tennis, shuffleboard, croquet, horseshoe pitching, and lawn bowling. Of these, only the lawn bowling courts remain today.
In recent years, a bandshell was built in Elizabeth Evans Park, making it a venue for Mount Dora concerts which have featured artists such as the Charlie Daniels Band and Artimus Pyle Band. It’s also been the location for the 4th of July Freedom on the Waterfront celebration, the Scottish Highland and Blueberry Festivals, the Medieval Run, and several annual 5K and and half-marathon races. On any given day, it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view of Lake Dora, the lighthouse and Palm Island.
For years, the park also featured a shaded gazebo at the water’s edge where guests could sit inside to enjoy the breezy waterfront. Recently, the gazebo was removed and it’s unclear whether it will be replaced.
A native of Napoleon, Ohio, Elizabeth Lemert Evans arrived in Mount Dora in 1922. She served on the City Council for ten years, during which time she spearheaded a beautification project that included planting trees, adding benches, and widening streets to allow for parking and landscaping. She also served as the hostess of the Community Building and president of the Woman’s Club where she sponsored clean-up campaigns and co-lead the beautification project for Gilbert Park as well as the waterfront park now named in her honor. On November 23, 1941, the small park was dedicated to Evans “that future generations may also know the high esteem in which she was held by her friends and fellow citizens,” stated Reverend Floyd Montgomery during the dedication service. Today, a Georgia granite monument bears a bronze plaque that recognizes Evans’ service and devotion to her community.
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