Lady Lake, located just east of the huge retirement community called The Villages and at the northern end of Lake County, got its name in the late 1890s. Although railroad authorities wanted to call the town Cooper or Cooperstown after a railroad associate, the residents chose the name Lady Lake. The lake of the same name, located to the east of the town, might have been named after an anonymous woman who drowned in the lake. Another hypothesis is that the lake got its name from its shape which resembles a woman’s profile.
Log Cabin Park, located on the west side of busy highway 441/27 at Lady Lake Boulevard, now houses the Lady Lake Chamber of Commerce. The log cabin was built in 1935 through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was originally used as a Town Hall for the town that had been incorporated since 1925.
Next to the log cabin is the Lady Lake Historical Society Museum at 107 South Old Dixie Highway. The museum displays artifacts from the town’s history, including the Seminole Indians and the town’s first political leaders. Information is available about the Tropical Railroad train depot that provided the impetus for the town’s growth, beginning in 1884. The train depot closed in 1958. The museum is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free parking is located to the south and north of the museum.
It is a short walk south from the museum to Heritage Park, located between Old Dixie Highway and Highway 441/27, and between Lakeview Street and Banana Street. In this one-acre park, a huge live oak tree is enclosed for its protection by a white picket fence. At least 200 years old, it is possible that the tree was used for hangings by Lake County officials. The tree also afforded a shady spot for a stagecoach stop in the 1800s. Now the charming park provides opportunities for quiet reflection by fountains, a butterfly garden and a gazebo. Free parking is available off Old Dixie Highway.
Lady Lake Public Library is located in the former Town Hall at 225 W. Guava Street. An addition triple its current size is expected to open in the winter of 2011. The public is welcome to use its computers for Internet access. Library card holders may order items from any Lake County libraries to be delivered to the library for pick-up.
Architecture in Lady Lake
Older buildings in Lady Lake exemplify the architectural styles of Folk Victorian, Mission Revival, and Queen Anne/Italianate/Gothic.
The Dyches house at 240 East Lady Lake Boulevard was built by John Wilson Dyches circa 1900 in the Folk Victorian style. The decorative double front doors and window pediments are typical of the Folk Victorian style, as is the scrollwork on the porch railing.
The back building of Lady Lake First United Methodist Church, 109 West McClendon Street (formerly Schoolhouse Street), was used as an elementary school from 1927 to 1931. Its stucco exterior, symmetrical front, and center hip-gabled entry reflect its Mission Revival style.
Across the street from the Methodist church building at 118 West McClendon Street is a church building that includes elements from Queen Anne, Italianate and Gothic architectural styles. The Queen Anne elements include a cross-gabled roof. The gable ends and exposed rafter tails are decorative in the Queen Anne style. The bracket work above the front entry is Italianate, while the steep roof and arched windows show a Gothic architectural influence. A round window also reflects a Gothic style.
If you would like to take a walk around Lady Lake, try Steve Rajtar’s Historical Hike Plan. The total walking distance is 5.1 miles. Some buildings described in the plan have been removed or changed names, but the walk is an interesting introduction to the town.