City History

The city was founded in 1880 by Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, a newspaper and railroad man from a Creole family in New Orleans. He gave it the surname of a Portuguese ancestor. In 1883 a post office was established; by the next year, a hotel, three stores, a sawmill, and eight cottages were built. St. Clair-Abrams's dream of Tavares as the state capital was not realized, but in 1887 it was designated the county seat of Lake County. St. Clair-Abrams later chartered a railroad from Tavares to Orlando. In 1919, Tavares incorporated as a town. 

The Tavares Seaplane Base is a city-owned, public-use seaplane base on Lake Dora in Tavares. The base is popular and gives rise to the city's nickname, "America's Seaplane City". 

Pavilion History

Side View
The idea of the pavilion originated in 1908 with the Tavares Improvement Association. At first the plan was for a retaining wall along the lakefront, a dock, and a bandstand on the dock. A dock committee was appointed but little action was taken. In 1910 after much prodding, the dock committee came up with the idea of a pavilion . It than became the pavilion committee. 

Something over $200 was raised for the project, but when the first plans were submitted, it was discovered that the money had disappeared. At the June meeting in 1912, J.C. Orth submitted plans for a seasonal building. These were accepted but later were rejected. In December, Joe McCormic brought plans for the 40 by 40 foot two-story building with a six foot wide pier from the shore to cost $2,000. A campaign to raise the money started and the city voted to give $500. In April, piling for the building had been bought for $30 and a Mr. Saunders given a contract to drive them. In May it was discovered that eight or ten pilings were missing, probably floated away in a storm. The next month, it was reported that pilings were not set because "Mr. Saunders" engine is broken and he is trying to find another." 

The Pavilion was built in 1912 by legendary Tavares builder L.G. Coven. Eventually construction was completed, and the Association held its first meeting there on November 12, 1914. 

Situated over the waters of Lake Dora, it was Tavares' first real community center and was used by civic organizations including the Tavares Women's Club, Kiwanis Club, American Legion Post #76, and for almost all social events for nearly half a century. The Pavilion was the scene of many school functions and for a time it even served as City Hall. A 50-foot pier connected the Pavilion to the foot of St. Clair Abrams Ave.

A favorite pastime of Tavareans in the early days was sitting on the sun decks overlooking the water and watching the old-time yachts and sailboats cruising past. At night, crowds jammed the Pavilion to watch plays on stage or to dance to the music of the day. It was the city's showplace.

Over the years the Pavilion's use diminished to such an extent that in 1960 the city council decided it should be torn down. It was replaced by a modern community center in Ridge Park.

Front of Pavilion Angle
The idea to rebuild the Tavares Pavilion on the Lake was born from several visioning sessions facilitated by former Mayor Nancy Clutts, with the participation of Tavares citizen and stakeholders. Residents made it clear they wanted us to honor Tavares' history in a very special way; therefore, it was decided to reconstruct the Tavares Pavilion on the Lake in a location close to where the original stood with a similar yet more modern look and with state-of-the-art amenities. Our city council and our city administrator John Drury embraced the idea. 

The Pavilion on the Lake broke ground on September 6, 2012. The first event was a wedding that was held on August 30, 2014.