Montverde Historical Trail

WARNING – This trail may pass through one or more neighborhoods which, although full of history, may now be unsafe for individuals on foot, or which may make you feel unsafe there. Hikers have been approached by individuals who have asked for handouts or who have inquired (not always in a friendly manner) why the hikers are in their neighborhood. Drugs and other inappropriate items have been found by hikers in some neighborhoods. It is suggested that you drive the hike routes first to see if you will feel comfortable walking them and, if you don’t think it’s a good place for you walk, you might want to consider (1) traveling with a large group, (2) doing the route on bicycles, or (3) choosing another hike route. The degree of comfort will vary with the individual and with the time and season of the hike, so you need to make the determination using your best judgment. If you hike the trail, you accept all risks involved.


Montverde Historical Trail

Copyright 1999 by Steve Rajtar




(From Interstate 4, drive west on SR 50, north on CR 455, east on Franklin Ave. and north on Division St. to park in Kirk Park. Walk south on Division St. and west 125 feet on Franklin Ave.)(0.0 miles so far)


Northwest corner of Porter Ave. and 6th St.

1….Montverde Cemetery

This cemetery contains the graves of several pioneer families of Montverde. One such family is that of James Martin Lowry (1882-1962), located in the westernmost row of headstones, fourth from the south edge of the cemetery. He and his wife, Alidel, had a large two-story house next to the railroad depot. He served as a school board member, county commissioner, and secretary-treasurer of the Montverde School. The house also served the community as the telephone office, express office and post office. Lowry also drilled a well and started a water system for the town. Another family with several headstones is that of John Wyatt Harden (formerly Hardin). His is in the fourth row from the west side and indicates that he was a veteran with the Confederate army. After four years as a bugler, he and wife Aramenta moved here and founded West Apopka, now known as Montverde.

(Walk east on Franklin Ave. and south 100 feet on 6th St.)(0.2)

Northeast corner of Porter Ave. and 6th St. (17404 6th St.)

2….Former Schoolhouse

This building was erected in 1930 as a school with two classrooms, a library, restrooms and an auditorium. In 1954, it was sold to the city and was used as the town hall. Later, a portion of the complex was converted to the Helen Lehman Library and the Franklin Pearce, Jr. Auditorium, which was rented by the Baptists for their Sunday services. The first school was built in 1885, a one-room log cabin between Ferndale and Monteverde. The second was made of logs and was near CR 455.

(Continue south on 6th St., then walk west 200 feet on Porter Ave.)(0.2)

North side of Porter Ave., between 6th and Division Sts.

3….Site of Third School

The third school in Montverde was built of lumber adjacent to the church on land donated by John Wyatt Harden. He was the first settler in Montverde, having arrived here from Chester, South Carolina, in about 1865. He homesteaded 165 acres and changed the spelling of his last name from “Hardin”.

(Continue west on Porter Ave. to the intersection with Division St.)(0.2)

Northeast corner of Porter Ave. and Division St. (17015 Porter Ave.)

4….Montverde United Methodist Church (Home of Troop 786!)

This land was donated by pioneer John Wyatt Harden in about 1889. The lumber was provided by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South Conference, and was hauled here by mule teams. Labor was provided by the neighborhood men. Some of the hand-hewn log joists used under the floor are still in place. The single large room has an exterior of upright boards and batten. Two doors were provided – the one on the right for the men and the other for the women. For a time, the building was used by the Baptists as well as the Methodists. Later, the building was enlarged and a ceiling was added. The grand piano was replaced by a pump organ, and then an upright piano and electric organ. Additions to the east and west provided classrooms for Sunday school, and then for public grammar school. Ceilings were lowered, the interior was paneled,and a front porch was added. The adjacent Varena M. Cox Educational Building, including a fellowship hall, was dedicated in 1965.

(Continue west on Porter Ave. to the intersection with 7th St. (CR 455) and look to the south.)(0.3)

East and west sides of 7th St., south of Porter Ave. (17235 7th St.)

5….Montverde Academy

This school was founded in 1912 by Dr. H.P. Carpenter, who came here from the Epworth School in Enterprise. He received support from the Daughters of the American Revolution. The school was a coeductional industrial, trade and preparatory school.

(Walk south on 7th St. and west 100 feet on the semicircular driveway.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.


The academy is nondenominational. Students are required to attend church each week.

(Continue west 150 feet on the driveway.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

7….Conrad-Lehmann Building

This is a classroom building.

(Continue west 75 feet on the driveway and look to the north.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

8….Rast Library

This library opened in March of 1987 with a capacity of 10,000 volumes. It is named for George H. Rast.

(Continue southwest 35 feet on the driveway.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

9….D.A.R. Hall

This dormitory houses up to 65 girls in grades eleven and twelve.

(Continue southwest 75 feet on the driveway and look to the northwest.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

10….McCammack Hall

This is a dormitory for girls in grades seven through ten, with a capacity of 52.

(Continue south 50 feet on the driveway.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

11….Bedell Dining Hall

This facility opened in October of 1988 with a seating capacity of 300. In addition to daily meals, it is also utilized for special banquets and receptions.

(Look to the east.)(0.4)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

12….Duncan Bell Tower

This working bell tower was dedicated in memory of Carl L. Duncan.

(Continue southeast 75 feet on the driveway.)(0.5)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

13….Kreke Science Building

This building named after Jorn M. Kreke was completed in 1993. It contains a custom equipped biology/science laboratory, demonstration and preparation areas, and a computer lab with 20 student workstations. Upstairs is a physics/chemistry lab and classroom.

(Continue southeast 50 feet on the driveway.)(0.5)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

14….MacKenzie Building

This building contains several classrooms.

(Continue east 150 feet on the driveway.)(0.5)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

15….Administration Building

This building is named for Dr. Walter L. Stephens, Jr., who joined the academy’s staff in 1961 and in 1968 became its president.

(Continue east on the driveway, then walk south 175 feet on 7th St.)(0.6)

West side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

16….Duncan Student Center

This facility contains a snack bar and is adjacent to a variety of recreational and athletic facilities.

(Continue south 300 feet on 7th St. and cross the street to the east.)(0.6)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

17….Donnelly Building

J.P. Donnelly, a major developer of Mount Dora, donated money for the manual training building, which was named in his honor. Later, it was used as a warehouse.

(Walk north 100 feet on 7th St.)(0.6)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

18….McQuaig Building

This activities building completed in 1985 is named after William O. McQuaig, a local citrus grower. Several members of the McQuaig family are buried in the Montverde Cemetery.

(Continue north 125 feet on 7th St.)(0.7)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

19….Roberts Gymnasium

This facility is named in honor of Henry D. Roberts.

(Continue north 150 feet on 7th St.)(0.7)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

20….Lowry Building

This building is named after the Lowry family, active in the development of Montverde and the surrounding area. One member, Cyrus T. Lowry, operated a steamboat between Montverde and Oakland, linking the town to Orlando.

(Continue north on 7th St., then walk east 275 feet on the semicircular driveway.)(0.8)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave. (17230 7th St.)

21….Arnold Hall

This is a dormitory for 65 boys in grades eleven and twelve. In October of 1988, it was enlarged by the addition of an annex with bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities on each of the three floors.

(Continue north 200 feet on the driveway.)(0.8)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave. (17312 7th St.)

22….Carpenter Hall

This dormitory has a capacity of 70 boys in grades seven through ten. It was dedicated on October 14, 1959.

(Continue west 200 feet on the driveway.)(0.9)

East side of 7th St., south of Porter Ave.

23….Stephens Fine Arts Center

This is named after Sandra O. Stephens and includes a 446-seat theatre/auditorium, music rooms, art rooms, a photography room, a dance studio and a drama complex. It was completed in December of 1981 at a cost of $1,000,000.

(Continue west on the driveway, then walk north on 7th St., west on Porter Ave., and north 200 feet on 8th St.)(1.1)

West side of 8th St., between Porter and Franklin Aves. (17409 8th St.)

24….First Baptist Church

The original Montverde town water tower once stood on the south end of this lot, and its concrete footings are still evident. In 1958, the Grace Baptist Church of Clermont held an organizational meeting in the Montverde Community House, for the purpose of discussing the establishment of a mission chapel. After two months of meetings, the group decided to build their own meeting place. The first service was held on this property on February 8, 1959, and the church building was erected later. On October 4, 1964, the mission separated from the church in Clermont and became the autonomous Montverde Baptist Church, now known as the First Baptist Church, Montverde.

(Continue north on 8th St., then walk west, northwest and north on CR 455 and west 500 feet on CR 561A.)(4.0)

South side of CR 561A, between CR 455 and Cemetery Rd.

25….Ferndale Baptist Church

The present sanctuary was dedicated on December 8, 1924.

(Continue west on CR 561A, then walk south and east on Cemetery Rd. to the stand of oak trees on the north side of the road.)(4.4)

North side of Cemetery Rd., west of CR 455


Many of the older headstones in this cemetery have weathered to the point of being unreadable. The oldest legible one appears to mark the grave of an infant who died in August of 1898.

 (Continue east on Cemetery Rd., then walk southeast on DR 455 to the intersection with 10th St.)(6.9)

Southwest corner of CR 455 and 10th St.

27….Whirler-Glide Mower Company, Incorporated

During the late 1940s, Montverde resident L. Neal Smith invented a heavy, bright green lawn mower with a shiny turtle head ornament on its hood. Called the “Snappin’ Turtle”, it was a self-controlled machine that could cut bushes and small trees as well as grass. The patent for the original machine is still used in the manufacture of Snapper Lawn equipment. Smith could not keep up with the demand for the mowers, and sold the patent to Southern Saw in Atlanta, which was later renamed Snapper Lawn Equipment. Smith opened the first Snapper distributorship, in Montverde. When he died in 1987, the distributorship passed to his daughter, Gee Gee Franklin. The original mower and other early equipment are on display here. Smith also invented a floating covered boat dock, an orange picker, and a device that peeled potatoes and rocked a baby at the same time.

(Continue east on CR 455 to the intersection with 7th St. and look to the northeast.)(7.0)

North side of Lakeside Ave., between 7th St. and Franklin Ave. (16937 Lakeside Ave.)

28….Post Office

The original plat of Montverde was prepared by Maj. Alexander St. Clair Abrams, the builder of the Tavares and Gulf Railroad. In the early days, this area was mostly known for grapes and parsley. Montverde was incorporated in 1924 with W.D. Walker serving as the first mayor. The post office was established about a mile and a half west of town, then moved to the Lowry home. After it burned, it was moved to the R.W. Harper home, then to a small building on 7th St., and then to this location.

(Walk east on Park Ln. and south on Division St. to the point of beginning.)(7.1)



Lake County, Florida: A Pictorial History, by Emmett Peter, Jr. (The Donning Company 1994)

Memories of Mount Dora and Lake County, by David Edgerton (1983)

Montverde Academy Catalog (1997-98)

Through Schoolhouse Doors: A History of Lake County Schools, by The Lake County Retired Teachers Association (Rose Printing Co., Inc. 1982)