City Profile

The City of Tavares 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 was incorporated.

Tavares Seaplane Base (FA1) 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".

The City of Tavares has served as the County's Seat for Lake County Florida, since 1888. Downtown Tavares, which lies on the shores of Lake Dora, has that small-town charm and feel, which is lacking in most cities. The picturesque Wooton Park sits only one block from Main Street and offers families everything from picnic pavilions to boat ramps. Tavares is also home to the Dora Canal, known as one of the most beautiful waterways in the world. Tavares has always been a central location. 

Back in the 19th century, Major St. Clair Abrams began implementing a vision for Tavares. He not only oversaw the development of the hub of rail lines converging in Tavares, he saw the future capital of the state waiting to be realized. Had it not been for an inadvertent fire 125 years ago, the major’s vision of Tavares being the state capital may have become reality. The spark from a train ignited the adjacent lumberyard downtown, destroying three dozen buildings in a matter of minutes. That same year, the Florida legislature removed Tavares from consideration as a potential new center of state government. Although the times have changed, one factor remains a constant for Tavares. It is the center of government for Lake County and it is, therefore, Lake County’s Capital City.  A partnership has evolved through the years between Lake County’s Board of County Commissioners and the Tavares City Council.  The two elected bodies work together to make downtown Tavares a supportive home for the civic activities of Lake County.


Modern Day Tavares

The Tavares Seaplane Base (FA1) is a public use seaplane landing area owned by the City of Tavares, Florida. The facility was licensed as a public airport by the State of Florida in 2010. City officials launched the idea for a seaplane base, as part of a plan to reinvigorate business and tourist activity in the downtown area. The Seaplane Base has been a major success and the City of Tavares is now known as “America’s Seaplane City”.


Tavares, Florida, has experienced a renaissance. Inspired by the strategic approach of its citizens, elected officials, employees, and former City Attorney Robert Q. Williams (who served the city for 37-years 1984-2021), Tavares has rebranded itself, appropriately, as America’s Seaplane City. It is an appropriate moniker for a city helping boost the downtown as a Central Florida entertainment spot and serving as the natural stopping point for seaplane pilots en route to the Bahamas and other island nations. However, the rebranding of Tavares to better align with its unique offerings is not the only revolution happening in City Hall. Tavares’ leaders are responding to citizens’ new expectations for personal digital experiences with their local government through their rapid and innovative adoption of smart technology.

Tavares Population 17,777 (2019 BEBR Estimate)

Lake County, Florida's 2018 population was estimated to be more than 342,000, with a growth rate of 3.16% in the past year according to the most recent United States census data. Lake County has ranked among the top 10 fastest-growing counties in Florida. As the Orlando urban core continues to approach build-out, Lake County is expected to experience significant population growth over the coming decades. Forecasts predict Lake County’s population to grow more than 427,000 by 2030 and more than 484,000 by 2040."


Source: BEBR Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida Florida Estimates of Population 2018