IN THE BEGINNING...
Mary's beginning dates back to the 1800's, the City did not
incorporate until August 7, 1973. The lake that gave the city its name was
named after Mary Sundell, the wife of Rev. J.F. Sundell, who settled on
the northern shores of the lake and organized the Presbyterian
congregation in 1894. Lake Mary started as a village of two tiny
settlements called Bent's Station and Belle Fontaine. They were located
along the railroad that ran between Sanford and Orlando.
Lake Mary began life as a citrus-based agricultural community. The then
village began to come into its own around 1880 when the South Florida
Railroad came through and connected Sanford with Orlando. The railroad
established a stop in Lake Mary, putting it on the map. The first Lake
Mary Post Office was established in February of 1887.
Early settlers included lumbermen,
turpentine workers, families from Fort Reed (Sanford) who had received
land grants, and Swedish families who were mainly orange growers. Later
came the railroad workers and winter visitors from the north.
In its early
years, Lake Mary housed, in addition to the normal establishments, a dance
casino, a bath house, a hotel, and a factory which produced
starches, farina and tapioca from the cassava plant, a tropical looking
plant with roots that were edible after boiling. Following the killing citrus freezes of 1894 and
1895, the factory saved what was then the citrus community of Bents, near
LAKE MARY'S VISIONARIES
There were many
people involved in the creation of what today is a modern, upscale
community, but Frank Evans probably had the most influence on Lake Mary
achieving a permanent place in the history of Seminole County.
Evans came to Lake Mary in 1882 with his parents and his two brothers. As
a small boy, he was fascinated by the circus and in particular the tight
rope act. He perfected his own version of the act and was part of the
Bailey Circus before it merged with P.T. Barnum. He entertained up and down
the eastern seaboard before his father insisted he return to his studies.
Frank Evans became a brilliant chemist whose company manufactured dyed
goods and textiles. He used his talent and financial resources to build
and promote Lake Mary as a community, constructing the original Lake Mary
Elementary School, many commercial buildings and new homes for the Lake
Mary community and the Seminole County area. He founded the Chamber of
Commerce in 1923 and became a Seminole County Commissioner in 1926. Many
of his descendants still reside in Lake Mary today.
here frequently for special stories on the different eras in Lake Mary's
history and the lives of its citizens as it evolved from a settlement to
the unique city it is today. For current information on Lake Mary events
and exhibits, visit the coming events section of this website.