Mount Dora's cup of charm no doubt runneth over. However, there's a sad piece of history that made it all possible, yet is seldom talked about. This tainted sliver of the past isn't immortalized with a plaque or bronze statue at a park and the tragic episode rarely gets a passing paragraph written about it in local history books.
Many current residents of Mount Dora aren't aware that in the early 1920's, a decade after the city's incorporation, some white residents believed the city could draw wealthy tourists from the northeastern part of the U.S. and implemented the Mount Dora Redevelopment Project. That was the sugary term for mandating the removal of African-Americans from the downtown properties they owned and relocating them to East Town, an area that is within what is now referred to as the Northeast Community.
African-Americans had resided in the East Town area of Mount Dora since the 1850's. It was here among the dense trees and lack of plantations that 'free blacks' believed they could live better lives and quietly subsist off the land.
Reportedly, the black and white communities co-existed peacefully with very little problems. Later in the 1800's and early 1900's, African-Americans owned properties in other areas of the city, including downtown. The Mount Dora Redevelopment Project wasn't embraced by downtown's African-American residents, however at that time they had no recourse and the program exposed the black community's vulnerability.
Still today, some Mount Dora residents haven't heard as much as a whisper about this part of their quaint city's not-so-forgotten history.
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