eXTReMe Tracker
In 1875, wealthy attorney, newspaperman, and Confederate veteran, Maj. Alexander St. Clair Abrams and his wife, Joanna, journeyed north from their home in Orlando to a bridge of land weaving through a chain of three beautiful lakes – Lakes Dora, Harris, and Eustis. It was here, in the heart of the state, where St. Clair Abrams envisioned a town that would someday be the seat of a new county - and possibly the capital of Florida. The Steely and Hull families occupied the land at that time. Melton and Sarah Isabella Haynes’ famous Woodlea Plantation was three miles away to the southwest.

In 1880, St. Clair Abrams began to lay out his town, calling it after a Spanish ancestor, a grandee named Lopez Para y Tavares. He made Tavares a major railroad hub, enabling people and goods to travel here from all points along America’s eastern seaboard. He built hotels, mills, factories, roads, and parks. Despite a devastating fire in 1888 that leveled the business district and the crippling freezes of 1894 and 1895 that set back the citrus industry, settlers continued to arrive to the Major’s growing city. Today, Tavares maintains its small-town charm as it prospers as “America’s Seaplane City.”
The Tavares downtown Historic & Entertainment District contains many historic houses and buildings. A complete listing is available at the Tavares Historical Museum, 121 E. Alfred Street. Many of the homes and structures have a connection to the War Between the States. Click here for a printable “Blue & Gray” Self-Guided Walking Tour of Tavares.
St. Clair Abrams House
Orth family home - 1884
Thomas & Mary Hux home
Pavilion & Opera House 1915
Woodlea Ribbon Cutting 2010