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A Grand Hotel, Pre-Disney

July 14, 2008

By Debbie Manis, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

Jul. 14–”When most people think of tourism in Florida, they think of Walt Disney World and the Orlando theme parks,” writes Jennifer L. Codding in The Ocklawaha Hotel.

“Actually, tourism in Florida dates much further back into the 1800s when northern residents came to the small towns and resorts of Florida to escape the cold winters. One such popular resort was the first hotel in Eustis, The Ocklawaha Hotel,” according to the author.

Codding, a Eustis resident who grew up in Mount Dora, has been a librarian and archivist for more than 12 years. She is head of technical services for Eustis Memorial Library.

The Ocklawaha Hotel, which was published this month by Infinity Publishing, is Codding’s first book.

Historical accounts note that A.S. Pendry first homesteaded the land and built the original Ocklawaha Hotel as his home in 1876. The grand hotel was at the edge of a large orange grove between Center and Summit streets overlooking Lake Gracie.

In 1904, the hotel was sold and renamed The New Ocklawaha Hotel. In 1907, a north wing was added to the Eustis landmark and by 1912, a south wing had been added.

At its peak, the hotel had a tennis court, a children’s playhouse, billiard and pool tables, a bowling alley and a pavilion by Lake Gracie.

The 200-room hotel burned down in November 1922. Today, there are mostly homes on the site.

Codding, an avid researcher, is a graduate of the University of South Florida and Florida State University.

The 88-page book is available at the Eustis Memorial Library Bookstore, 120 N. Center St., or at infinitypublishing.com.

A book signing is planned for a later date at Eustis Memorial Library.

Photo Club meeting

In Focus Photo Club of Lake County will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the fellowship hall at Faith Lutheran Church, 2727 S. Grove St., Eustis.

Professional photographers Don Blake and his daughter Donna Wilbanks will be the guest speakers.

Professional and amateur photographers are welcome. For information, visit infocusphoto clubs.com.

Auditions for Renaissance Faire

The Educational Foundation of Lake County will present the eighth annual Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire from Nov. 7 to 9 and the King’s Feast on Nov. 6 at Hickory Point Recreation Complex, State Road 19, south of Tavares.

Auditions for cast members — including nobles, historical figures, ladies in waiting and waiting gentlemen — will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 26 in the South Lake High School auditorium, 15600 Silver Eagle Road, Groveland.

Auditions for villagers, gypsies (dancers), mistress roses (singers) and privateers are planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 23 at the school. Auditions for the human chess match will be from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. the same day.

The cast will entertain visitors and act out storylines.

Rehearsals are planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays Sept. 6 through Oct. 25 at the school. Nobility roles also will rehearse Aug. 9 and Aug. 16. Additional Sunday morning rehearsals are required for the human chess match in St. Petersburg.

Nov. 1 will be a full cast rehearsal at Hickory Point Park.

The fair re-creates two 16th-century English merchant villages featuring vendors and stages of nonstop entertainment including jousters, falconers, period comedians, Celtic music, pirates, fire eaters and human chess matches.

Proceeds will support programs and services provided to the Lake County school district by the foundation.

For more information, call Carman Cullen at 352-326-1265 or e-mail cullenc@lake.k12.fl.us or Jennifer Julian at jjnshane@yahoo.com.

Patchwork Productions classes

Melon Patch Players’ Patchwork Productions’ fall theater begins Aug. 26 and is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Kindergarten through fifth grade will meet from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sixth through 12th grade will meet from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A stage production of The Velveteen Rabbit, adapted from a classic children’s book about a stuffed rabbit that wants to become real, is scheduled for the end of the semester on Nov. 7 and 8 by the kindergarten- through fifth-grade students.

The sixth- through 12th-grade group will present The Nutcracker on Nov. 14 and 15 and a special Hospice performance is planned for Nov. 16.

The cost is $150 a semester.

Registration is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 5 to 7 at the theater, 311 N. 13th St., Leesburg.

Details: 352-787-3013.

Musical groups wanted

The Leesburg Partnership is seeking choral, musical and dance groups to perform during the annual Leesburg Holiday Concert Series in the Towne Square on Main Street by City Hall from Nov. 28 at the Main Street Christmas Stroll, to Dec. 27 during the weekly Saturday morning market.

Performances should run between 45 to 60 minutes.

A professional stage, lighting, chairs and public-address system will be available.

To schedule a performance, call Alice Coleman at 352-787-3928 or the Leesburg Partnership at 352-365-0053.

‘Lion and Mouse Stories’

Tickets are on sale for the Ocala Civic Theatre’s Young Audience’s production of Lion and Mouse Stories.

Lion and Mouse Stories by Colleen Neuman is four plays tied together by a clever mouse, who tells a series of stories to an arrogant lion.

The Tiger, the Brahman and the Jackal is the story of a clever jackal tricking a tiger into giving up his dinner. The Better Mousetrap is about a man who builds an elaborate mousetrap to catch the mouse who is frightening his wife. The Lion’s New Tail is a variation of The Emperor’s New Clothes. King of the Jung le is the story of a lion who, when elected king, eats one too many chicken feet at his coronation.

Performances are planned for 3 and 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Ocala Civic Theatre in the Appleton Cultural Center, 4337 E. Silver Springs Blvd.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for full-time students.

Details: 352-236-2274 or ocalacivictheatre .com.

Items to be considered should be submitted to Debbie Manis, The Arts In Lake, Orlando Sentinel, 1898 E. Burleigh Blvd., Tavares, FL 32778, fax 352-742-5938 or e-mail dmanis@orlandosentinel.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

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