Oak Park History Middle School Project
501 W. Meadow Street
City Hall was constructed in 1926. City Hall is a commercial building with colonial influences by homes and buildings in Georgia. The building has always been called City Hall. After it was built, the fire station and police department were housed there. Offices, jail cells, the chief and firefighters were originally located here. In the 1870s, before this City Hall was built, town officials were in a building on Main Street. There was a schoolhouse and lodge located in the second story. The address of City Hall is the NW corner of Market and 5th Street. The building was remolded and expanded in 1987.
THE LEESBURG HERITAGE MUSEUM
(Formerly the Leesburg Woman’s Club and then Lassiter-Ware Insurance)
111 S. Sixth Street
The original Woman’s Club was constructed in 1922 at a cost of $16,170. The first meeting in it was held on Oct. 9, 1922. In the late 1920s, Leesburg High School held junior and senior proms there. During World War II, as a result of gas rationing, Leesburg Catholics, who had no home church of their own, held Mass there. Lassiter-Ware Insurance bought the eclectic Spanish mission style building in 1946, but the Woman’s Club still used the upstairs portion for a library. The City of Leesburg purchased the building in 1981 and used it while City Hall was being renovated. It became home of the Leesburg Heritage Society Museum in 1990 and is also home for the Leesburg Partnership.
THE LEESBURG OPERA HOUSE
(Also formerly known as the Mote Block and Stoer Block)
On the south side of Main Street between 4th and 5th streets
The terra-cotta stucco, commercial style building was built in 1889 by Edward H. Mote, Leesburg’s eight-term mayor. Trains carrying opera performers to Miami from Atlanta stopped for the night in Leesburg. Evening performances were hosted here. The present Opera House is a mix of old and new. Some of the original floor was retained, but it is charcoal stained from a fire 20 years ago. Now the second floor is used for artists’ lofts and the old Opera room is used for parties and weddings.
(Formerly known as Leesburg State Bank, First National Bank and then Sun Bank)
515 W. Main Street
The first skyscraper in Leesburg was built in 1926. It was five stories tall and boasted of having Leesburg’s first elevator! It was then the home of Leesburg State Bank. It is rumored that Ma Barker and her gang cased the bank in the 1930s when they lived at Lake Weir. Because of the balcony overlooking the banking floor and the up-to-date security arrangements it was deemed too difficult to rob. The building later became First National Bank and the Sun Bank Building. Currently, it is used by LifeStream Behavioral Center and United Southern Bank.
THE TROPIC THEATRE
(Formerly The Fain Theatre)
The Tropic Theatre was originally called the Fain Theatre when it was first opened in 1936 by with the movie “Collegiate.” On November 24,1960, after being extremely remodeled it reopened as the Tropic Theatre. A fascinating new feature was added. The interim ceiling lights were angled to make it appear as if the ceiling were non-existent. The Tropic was once again remodeled and expanded and reopened as the Tropic Twin Theatre in 1979. The theater’s final change was in 2003 when it became a karaoke bar, the “All-American Sing Along.”
THE MOTE-MORRIS HOUSE
1195 W. Magnolia Street (formerly at 1021 W. Main Street)
The Mote-Morris house was built in 1892. It is one of the few 19th century homes which has survived in essentially its original condition. The house was relocated September 1990 to its present site. The Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation gave a grant for a dig by Oak Park Middle School students at the site after it was moved. When E.H. Mote built the house, it cost him $9,000. In 1908, the house was bought by Bishop Henry Clay Morrison and his wife Mary Elizabeth. It is rumored that Mary Elizabeth, a writer of short stories, actually wrote the Bishop’s sermons for him. During their residence at the Victorian architecture was modified, including the addition of electricity, and the house was painted to its present-day white. In 1918, the Morris family purchased the home where three generations resided for seventy years. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Now the building is used for weddings and other types of receptions.
VICTORIA’S ANTIQUE WAREHOUSE
(formerly C.D. Kirk’s Chrysler Dealership, The Daily Commercial, and Lake Hardware)
113 Seventh Street
This antique emporium that extends from Orange Avenue to Seventh Street was originally a Chrysler dealership when it was built in 1926. C.D. Kirk didn’t stay long. The Sanborn Map of 1929 shows it was home of the Leesburg Commercial, which stayed there until moving to its present location in 1965.
The new building was constructed of brick, concrete and steel and was built so an additional three more stories could be added at a later date. It cost in the vicinity of $50,000, with an “Old Spanish motif its dominating note.” It is charmingly renovated as Victoria’s Antique Warehouse.
THE LEESBURG POST OFFICE
(Formerly the Leesburg Public Library and City Hall Annex)
On Market Street between Sixth and Seventh streets
The old Leesburg Post Office was built in 1935. It was the first building in Leesburg specifically constructed for post office purposes. It is a commercial style building. In 1964, when the post office was moved into a new building, the old one was turned over to the city; it became the public library. Interestingly, the first post office was a box on the Lake Griffin dock. If a person happened to walk by they would pick up any mail and deliver it to the appropriate place.
Lee School was constructed in the spring of 1915 at a cost of $40,000 including land. Built in a traditional school style, it originally had twelve rooms and a separate auditorium. Grades 1-12 were housed here until 1918, when the north building was built in a colonial-revival style. By 1923, they needed more space and 12 classrooms were added to the north building. The facility served as an elementary school until 1974. During the early years it was used as a meeting place and a hurricane shelter. It served for years as Lee Adult Opportunity School and is currently being used by Leesburg High School during the high school expansion.
SEABOARD AIR LINE RAILROAD
300 N. Palmetto Street
Railroad Seaboard began freight service to Leesburg in 1884. The brick train depot with flared eaves and a hipped dormer near the ticket booth also has a painted brick chimney that makes it look more craftsman-like in style. Annie Oakley arrived here aboard the Seaboard trains to hunt in Leesburg and the surrounding areas.
BEYERS FUNERAL HOME
1123 W. Main Street
This Queen Anne style home was built in 1883 by the Higginbotham family. In 1905, J.Y. Clark bought the home and built a new home around the existing one. Extensive stuccowork was added and also used for fencing the property. The stucco on the fence had been so artfully contrived that a couple of faces could be clearly seen. Children from the surrounding neighborhoods were always surrounding the fence trying to find the faces. In 1932 the home was purchased and renovated for the Beyers Funeral Home, which still operates today. It is still a family owned business that has been in the family for more than seventy years.
ST. JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH
204 Lee Street
St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1889. It exhibits a good example of the ornate Gothic Revival style. Notable are the steeply-pitched roofs, sloped foils in the steeple tower, along with characteristic cross bracing in the gabled porch entry. Special attention should be paid to the stained glass windows. On the North side, the windows tell the story of the Old Testament Prophets. The South side beautifully illustrates their prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament. A descriptive guidebook is available in the Parish office