Grenier, Bob and the East Lake Historical Society. Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County (Images of America). Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. 2023. 128 pages, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467109420, $23.99.
Lake County, Florida is a rapidly growing area in Central Florida with Clermont being a bedroom community for Orlando, but also with proximity to Tampa. With a population of 297,000 in 2010, the county now boasts a staggering 410,000 persons just over a decade later, a growth of over 71%. When a county grows this fast, how do long term residents keep up with their history? As the number of transplants, often with no roots or desire to put down real roots, grows, what can be done to preserve the legacies of those who have built these now booming areas?
While the Clermont and west Lake County areas are not covered in this book, Bob Grenier and the East Lake Historical Society have provided a fine volume that will go far in making sure the names, deeds, and legacies of those from the East Lake County area will not be forgotten.
Mr. Grenier is well qualified to have gathered photos and penned a volume such as this. He is the author of several other Images of America volumes including works on Tavares, and Leesburg, along with books on Central Florida veterans from the Civil War, and World War II. He is a well known speaker throughout the region and has presented his work at many museums and historical societies. He brings a passion to his subjects both in writing and in his presentations. If you get a chance to hear him present, I recommend attending.
Bob has been a resident of Lake County, Florida since 1985 when he moved south from Illinois. Originally settling in Mount Plymouth, Bob was familiar with the area and when the East Lake Historical Society was founded he was able to reconnect with the area. He has put his experience as an author, public servant, and museum director to work in compiling this fascinating volume.
East Lake County is often overlooked in comparison to the cities in the mid and western parts of the county. As mentioned, Clermont is rapidly growing, having grown to almost 50,000 residents on its own, up from 28,000 in 2010. Other communities such as Mount Dora, Leesburg, and Tavares, the county seat, often garner the most attention as might be expected. What of the small communities of east Lake County? They continue to be home to dedicated residents, proud of their local communities.
Mr. Grenier starts the book off with an interesting, but brief, two page introduction to his subject. Here, he quickly covers his subject matter. Here we learn of the Sorrento Immigration Service and how northern migrants helped develop the town in the post Civil War years. Special mention is given to Major Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, a man Mr. Grenier is well associated with, having expertly put together a volume of Abrams writings.
Mount Plymouth is described by Mr. Grenier as “a Currier and Ives painting come to life” (page 8). Here we learn of the Mount Plymouth Corporation and the plans of powerful men such as real estate developer H. Carl Dann, John Pirie of Carson Pirie Scott and Company fame, and baseball legend Connie Mack. Their dream was to develop a 5,000 acre parcel into a winter resort, reminiscent of the Scottish countryside.
The small community of Cassia on State Road 44, only about ten minutes from the Lake/Volusia County line is home to the annual Cassia Day, an event filled with food, games, music, and community, to help celebrate the heritage of this area which can trace its first settlers to the 1850s. I have often passed through Cassia on State Road 44 and never given it a moments consideration. I will need to rectify that oversight.
3′ x 5′ Allegiance American Flag – $65.00
Using the toughest nylon fabric, double needle lock-stitching, and bartacking, this is simply a superior flag. Most importantly, Allegiance’s American Flag is 100% sourced and made in the USA by highly skilled seamstresses, many of whom lost work as the American textile industry moved overseas. We couldn’t be more proud to bring that work back, creating irreplaceable value for them, our customers, and our great country.
The meat of the book is of course the photos. And this book is packed with them, well over 200, spanning from the earliest days of these communities to more modern times helping show how these towns have evolved but still retain their sense of community. As can be expected, some of the image quality is better than others. The reproductions can only do so much based upon the source material. Overall though, I think you will be impressed.
Here we meet early settlers, families that often had to struggle to make their lives work. We also meet men like Sam Stoltz, a self taught architect from Chicago who created Tudor style homes in Mount Plymouth. We get to see photos of some of these “Plymouthonians” in the book. (page 64)
We are treated to beauty queens (page 58), Civil War soldiers (page 86), Camp Boggy Creek (page 97), a gentleman by the name of “Possum Slim” and his amazing story (page 51), and what might be my favorite images, two images of the Sorrento Baseball Club dating to around the turn of the twentieth century (page 17).
For those interested in Lake County history this is a must have. If you are interested in the Florida history and the development and evolution of small Florida towns this is a book to consider adding to your library. Well written, with a diverse subject matter included, Mr. Grenier and the East Lake Historical Society have done a fine job in showcasing this unique part of Florida.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.