Installing Alleyway SignsIn 2010 the City of Tavares began working to improve the alleyways in downtown. The first few alleys are just being completed and signs are going up!

The City Council voted to officially name the alleyways for better identification, and, as the paving is completed, each alley will receive its new name. The alleys have been named after famous aviators and well-known names from Tavares history.

The refurbished network of alleys will present a more energy efficient transportation route by reducing trip lengths for garbage pickup and encouraging walking and cycling throughout the more functional, more accessible, more attractive downtown.
Link to Alleyway Map.

Historical Background on the Alleyway Names
Alleyway #1Cromartie – William Reed Cromartie, born in 1870, came to Tavares with his wife Emma Jane in 1904.  He was known to all as “Uncle Reed.” Mr. Cromartie was very active in the Black community since his arrival in Tavares, improving educational standards and conditions for Lake County’s Black youths.  He was a School Trustee for many years.  Harrison Academy’s name was changed to Cromartie Elementary School to honor his service to education. The school no longer stands. By using the Cromartie name for an alleyway, the Wade and Manigault families will be encompassed and honored.
Completed Alley Paver Project
Alleyway #2Henri Fabre – 1882-1984. Fabre was a French aviator and the inventor of Le Canard, the first seaplane in history. In March of 1910, after he patented a system of floatation devices, he completed four consecutive perfect flights taking off from the surface of Etang de Berre, a lagoon near Marseilles. During the First World War he established a company which specialized in the manufacturing of seaplanes. Seaplane pioneers, Glenn Curtiss and Gabriel Voisin used Fabres’ invention to develop their own seaplanes.

Alleyway #3
Gardner – Gardner’s Garage on Main Street was built in 1924.  By the 1930’s the building housed a filling station and repair shop, as well as rented automobiles.  During the Depression, Mr. Gardner bought out a bankrupt lumberyard and hardware supply and incorporated the whole business, providing jobs. Gardner’s building, which still stands today, housed other business through the years including a jewelry store, two grocery stores, a clothing store, fabric shop and the more famous Tavares Hardware.

Alleyway #4
Blanche Sperry – 1894-1986. Arriving in Tavares in 1926, she was Tavares Schools’ lunchroom manager for over 40 years, and was responsible for starting a lunch program in 1939, being a pioneer in school lunch programs in the country. In an effort to budget the limited funds for a lunch program she bought vegetables from the farmers around Tavares. And within the first year, the program was self-supporting. Blanche Sperry cooked for the entire student population of Tavares, including arriving early and staying late to bake cookies for the children which she sold the next day for a penny.

Alleyway #5
Boulware – Alleyway 5 is appropriately named as Doc Boulware’s famous Tavares drugstore was known as the “Home of the 5¢ cup of coffee.”  In 1935, Doc Boulware bought the drug store, located on the south side of Main Street (formally Irma Street), from Doc Daniels.  The fountain service offered drinks and ice cream while Doc filled prescriptions.  For many years it was an institution in Tavares; the place to go for a “coffee break” and conversation.

Alleyway #6
Marie King – 1896-1981. This alleyway runs behind Marie King’s famous Tavares landmark, the Tavares Inn, which she purchased in 1931. Marie came to Tavares in the 1920’s when a Home Demonstration job became available in Lake County. She married Jack King, a telegraph operator with the ACL Railroad, in 1927. Marie was one of the most active women in the Tavares community and was recognized with many citations and certificates of appreciation, including one from President Harry Truman. Doris Ragan wrote a poem in 1981 about Marie in which she writes, “Her many talents were an inspiration, her memory will be cherished in appreciation.” 

Alleyway #7Glenn Curtiss – 1878-1930. Remembered as the inventor of the Hydroaeroplane, he began developing the Curtiss seaplane in 1908 and completing it in 1911.  He is also known as the “Father of Naval Aviation.” Three significant demonstrations involving the US Naval warships, including Eugene Ely's flying his Curtiss airplane off the cruiser, USS Birmingham, pointed the way to future progress in seaplane aviation, anticipating battleships carrying seaplane "spotter" aircraft and ultimately, carrier-based air operations. Curtiss will always be associated with his flying boats and the dawning of American naval aviation prior to the First World War.

Alleyway #8
John Cyril Porte – 1884-1919. Porte was a flying boat pioneer associated with the World War I Seaplane Experimental Station at Felixstowe. He met American aircraft designer Glenn Curtiss at Volk's Seaplane Base at Brighton, and they worked together on a design in the USA for the "America" flying boat. Several hundred seaplanes of Porte's design were built for war-time patrolling the east coast of England, for naval reconnaissance around the Mediterranean Sea, and were sold to the US for coast patrols.

Alleyway #9T. A. Hux – 1842-1939. Thomas A. Hux was one of the many Confederate veterans who settled the area, arriving in 1870.  He moved and founded the town of Astatula in 1872.  He eventually moved to Tavares and became the town’s most beloved senior figure. In 1938 he was the guest of the U.S. government at the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  When he returned home from the reunion he was quoted as saying “Them Yankees treated us real nice.” In 1936, the 95 year old Tavares citizen wished to celebrate his 66th wedding anniversary by challenging 96 year old Mt. Dora resident Adam Hazelwood to a foot race.  Mr. Hazelwood responded by saying, “Why should a man in the prime of his life want to compete with a baby…Hux is too young for me to disillusion him and spoil his whole future.”  The pallbearers at his funeral were some of Tavares most prominent citizens.

Alleyway #10
J. N. Flowers – 1863-1947. Joel Napoleon Flowers was the last town marshal and then became the first Tavares police chief in 1925; holding that position until 1929.  He was responsible for collecting personal taxes from residents in the 1920’s and for setting fines for various infractions, including fining $2 for illegally parked mules and $10 for the possession of moonshine. The Flowers family still resides in the area. 

Alleyway #11
Tally – Judge Emmett M. Tally, son of a Confederate veteran, was born in 1877 and arrived in Lake County in 1906.  He was appointed Lake County judge in 1910, and was re-elected five times.  He was held in the highest esteem and popularity with the citizens of Lake County.  In June of 1911, he married Lucille Cottrell, a very active and popular lady in Tavares and throughout the County. She was a leading business woman, owning and operation the Tally Insurance Agency.  Judge Tally gained widespread attention when he apprehended an escaped convict in 1933, shooting and wounding the escapee. The Tally house on the corner of Alfred and Rockingham was built in 1886, and was used temporarily as the Courthouse.  The House still stands today.

Alleyway #12
Clara Adams – 1884-1971. She was an aviatrix who set a variety of flying records and was a pioneering passenger in the early aviation technology of the “flying boat.” Clara Adams made one of her most famous trips in 1939, when she set a world record for an around-the-world flight solely on scheduled passenger airlines.  She left New York on June 28, 1939 aboard Pan American’s “Dixie Clipper”, a Boeing 314 flying boat. Clara Adams brought passenger flight to the attention of the masses, and helped change the public perception of aviation from a dangerous enterprise for daredevils in leather helmets to something that could be enjoyed by a little old widow from Pennsylvania.

Alleyway #13
Bennye Kinsler – 1911-1999. She was one of the most beloved ladies in Lake County history.  Mrs. Kinsler touched generations during her six decades of teaching school and was a major role model for African-American youths dating back to the Depression.  She was instrumental during the implementation of desegregation in Lake County’s public schools. Upon her retirement, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles and the Florida Legislature passed a Resolution honoring her remarkable career. There is a wing at Tavares Elementary School named and dedicated to her. 

Alleyway #14
Shorts – Frederick Shorts, with his brothers Sidney and Samuel arrived in Tavares in 1916, and found work in Lane Park area in the turpentine business and later in planting and harvesting citrus. Fred, who married Mary Wiggins in the 1920’s, eventually began his own lawn and garden service which he did until his retirement.  He was a very important figure in the African-American community, and an outstanding leader in the Mt. Mariah Missionary Church.  He made sure everyone had food to eat and transportation to the grocery store and church.  The African-American community looked up to Fred Shorts as a man of wisdom, compassion and understanding. Many of the Shorts brothers’ descendants still reside in the Tavares area, including Bernice Shorts Odums, Atheria Shorts Owens, Kevin Harris, Howard and Lear Shorts, Carolyn Shorts Nix, the Charles Birdsong family, as well as Keturah Shorts Brodus, the oldest still living Tavares-born African-American, and more. 

Alleyway #15
Coven – This alleyway is located behind the still-standing home of Leo and Leela Coven.  Leo, 1884-1955, built many buildings and homes in Tavares, many of which are still standing today, including the Harry Duncan house and the Lake Abstract Building. The City of Tavares is now in the process of reconstructing his historic 1912 pavilion on Lake Dora.  His son L.L. “Babe” Coven, 1923-1980, who worked in the family business as a youth, continued the family construction tradition in Tavares.