Historical Lake County

Take a cool break from your fun in the sun this summer and step inside Lake County’s historical attractions that introduce you to real Florida history preserved and presented by those who love to share the state’s rich story.

As your body cools, your mind can wander. Imagine being a guest at a fancy dress ball at the Howey Mansion. Or maybe your life on the wild side lands you in the city jail, home of Mt. Dora’s history museum. In Clermont, you can go back to the days of one-room schoolhouses and outhouses. If trains are your thing visit the museum in Lady Lake housed in the old train station complete with a large train display depicting the town in the 1950s.

The Howey Mansion

Step back into a grander time as you tour the twenty-room mansion built by William J. Howey, community founder of Howey-in-the-Hills. Designed by Katerine Cotheal Budd, the mansion is Mediterranean Revival featuring a foyer entrance with a peacock plumage design in multi-colored stained glass. Located at 1001 Citrus Ave, Howey-in-the-Hills, FL, the Mansion is open for guided tours Tuesday-Saturday 10am-2pm. Tours must be booked in advance by calling 407-906-4910 or visiting www.thehoweymansion.com. Tickets for adults are $22. Tickets for children, ages 4-12, are $17.

Lake County Historical Museum

Located in the historic 1924 classic revival style courthouse in Tavares, this museum has been telling the stories of Lake County and its residents since 1954. The 13-foot alligator is a hit with all visitors. For children, there are scavenger hunts, interactive exhibits with insects. Curator Bob Grenier says the most popular exhibit is the gallery devoted to military history and veterans. There is also a game in this room for children depicting the animals hidden in camouflage. Another gallery really delves into the agriculture and tourism industries in the county. Open Tuesday and Saturday 10am-2pm, and Wednesday-Friday 10am-3pm, the Museum is located at 317 W. Main St, Tavares. Admission is FREE. Call 352-343-9890 or visit www.lakecountyhistoricalmuseum.org for more information.

Clermont Historic Village Museum

Located at 490 West Ave., Clermont, there are seven buildings to explore in this village. Take your pick. The original train depot stands where it was built. Two historic homes dating from the late 1800s were moved to the village. Replicas of the Herring Hooks School from the 1880s and an outhouse are eye-opening for the youngest in your group. An original Quonset hut houses a World War II museum. Call 352-593-8496 or visit www.clermontvillage.org for more information. Open Friday 1pm-3pm and Saturday and Sunday 1pm-4pm. A suggested donation of $2 is the only admission.

Lady Lake Historical Society and Museum

This museum, housed in the old train depot, has all the quaint charm of a small town museum, the kind that makes the visit as memorable as the information gleaned from the exhibits. Founding families of the town have donated many of the artifacts that tell the story of Lady Lake. In telling its story, the museum tells the story of many Florida towns that owe their existence to the railroad. The train display, depicting Lady Lake and surrounding areas in the 1950s, is a big hit with visitors young and old. If you visit on a Tuesday there is a farmer’s market right outside their front door. Located at 107 S. Old Dixie Highway, Lady Lake, hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10am – 1pm. If you need more information call 352-259-4359 or visit www.ladylakemuseum.org. Admission is FREE.

Mount Dora History Museum

If you make your way to Mount Dora for the shopping or restaurants, carve out some time to visit the Mount Dora History Museum, located at 450 Royellou Lane, Mount Dora. Housed in the city jail dating from 1923, this is an entertaining museum for children. They can go in the jail cells and are invited to touch anything not under glass. They are encouraged to type on the old typewrites and figure out how to use some of the kitchen equipment dating from the late 1800s. An entire section is devoted to the Lakeside Inn, Florida’s oldest continually operating hotel. In addition to being the jail, the building was also the fire department and police headquarters. Memorabilia from all of those users are on display. The museum explores the hard lives of the citrus growers complete with a kitchen from the early 1900s. Another section displays memorabilia from movies filmed using the town and the lake. Call 352-383-0006 or visit www.mountdorahistorymuseum.com.  Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 1 pm – 4 pm and admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students.

For even more ways to discover Florida’s real history, visit www.visitlakefl.com. Hours and admission rates were correct upon publication. It is always best to confirm before you visit.