Mount Dora's cup of charm no doubt runneth over. However, there's a sad piece of history that made it all possible. This tainted sliver of the past isn't immortalized with a plaque or bronze statue and the episode rarely gets more than a passing paragraph written about it.
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.
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 served to expose the black community's vulnerability.
Still today, some Mount Dora residents have never heard as much as a whisper about this part of their quaint city's past. Maybe because it's too shameful or simply forgotten history. Whatever the reason, the episode doesn't reflect poorly on the present-day residents of the city, however it is a sad, relevant and educational chapter in its history.
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