May 12, 2021
Mount Plymouth is not incorporated, but is a "census-designated place" in Lake County, Florida with almost 3,000 people. It is northwest of Orlando on State Road 46 a few miles east of Mount Dora.
I recently drove from Mount Dora to nearby Mount Plymouth to see what changes have taken place since I first visited more than fifty years ago.
I remember it as a quaint old golf course community dating back to the real estate boom times of the 1920's. The Mount Plymouth Hotel, built in 1926 at the cost of $350,000.00, was the crown jewel of the golf resort.
At one time it was reported to have the largest dining room of any hotel in Florida.
In the old days the hotel entertained such famous guests as Al Capone, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth and singer Kate Smith. The hotel even had it's own airfield.
Capone was a notorious Chicago gangster who loved to come to Florida during the winter months. Mack and Ruth were baseball greats, and Kate Smith was a famous American singer, radio, and television personality.
There were also a number of small golf course cottages sprinkled about the community. Many were designed by Sam Stoltz, a creative artist and builder from Winter Park.
The original plan was to have four 18 hole golf courses patterned after the St. Andrews course in Scotland. The real estate crash of 1926 killed that plan, and only one course was completed.
It was called Mount Plymouth Golf Club, and was operational until 2007.
A private school, Florida Central Academy, was in the old 150 room hotel beginning in 1959. The school finally closed in 1983.
The old building was in bad condition in final days, but was still standing for years after the school closed.
Finally it was condemned by county health officials. It burned down about 1987.
When you drive through Mount Plymouth now on County Road 435, you can still see the old abandoned golf course fairways and greens.
A few of the original old 1920's boom time golf cottages like the one in the photos can still be seen, although most have been torn down to make way for more modern homes.
Learn more about Sam Stoltz the designer and builder.
June 27, 2021
My Mount Plymouth Connection
By Wayne Raulerson
I have a slight connection to Mt Plymouth. My Uncle Gordon Raulerson married Olive Lint and they inherited or were given approximately 20 acres of land that was contiguous to the Mt. Plymouth property.
There was an orange grove, a large 2 story home and a small lake in front of the house. Uncle Gordon would take me up to help him in the grove. That was after he moved to Lakeland.
He had a daughter, Linda. She was probably less than 10 years old when they moved to Lakeland. The house was vacant when I would go there in the 1950s. I lost my connection with Linda when she got married and moved to London, England.
Uncle Gordon and Aunt Olive have long been gone so I have no resource to gain further knowledge of their place in Mt. Plymouth.
I have some knowledge that Uncle Gordon had a connection to Al Capone.
The Raulerson family was one of the first families to settle what is now Lakeland. And that is where Uncle Gordon grew up and became a General Contractor in Lakeland.
Nov 04, 2020
A Carl Dann development
My great uncle, Carl Dann developed Mount Plymouth. He was a real estate developer & an avid golfer. He is better known for College Park & Dubsdread Country Club in Orlando. He was a friend of Sam Stolz.
Oct 16, 2020
Student at Florida Central Academy
by: Donald Eatmon
I lived and went to school there. Lived with Shah of Iran's nephew, Ali Emir... My parents taught there.
Sep 05, 2020
The comment about the Tarzan actors is totally plausible and probably correct. In the 1930's Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan (some say was the best Tarzan), and Jane was played by Maureen O'Sullivan. At that time they shot multiple scenes at Silver Springs which is not to far from the hotel. It would make sense for the cast and crew to stay there because the Mt. Plymouth hotel was probably the closest hotel to the filming location. That would be really cool if it could be corroborated that Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan stayed there.
Sep 05, 2020
More circumstantial evidence that Chicago mob owned the Mt. Plymouth Hotel
I have been thinking about this and I came up with plausible circumstantial evidence for the Capone connection and the hotel.
1) In the 20'-30's the hotel was only open to the public from Dec. 23 - Easter. This indicates that the hotel itself was really just a place for the guys from Chicago to hang out and maybe discuss plans for the syndicate, as well as down time.
2) There are a myriad of hotel pictures from what look like the 30's, and a lot of them show multiple private aircraft in front of the hotel. Some pictures show a half dozen planes with people who dress like they have money. This would indicate that the people who used the hotel the most at the time, were highly affluent. This is consistent with the leaders of the Chicago syndicate at the time.
EDITOR SAYS: IT'S ALWAYS FUN TO SPECULATE, BUT NOT SURE YOUR EVIDENCE WOULD HOLD UP IN COURT. I HAVE BEEN WATCHING TOO MANY RERUNS OF LAW AND ORDER.
Aug 21, 2020
Al Capone's Chicago Syndicate
That's why we will probably never know. But since apparently the financiers were from Chicago, and Capone was pretty much running the Chicago group at the time, it is plausible because at the time Capone's organization was raking in untold cash, and they needed investments far away from Chicago, and also at that time real estate seemed like a great investment, as there was a major boom going on, sort of like 2005.
EDITOR SAYS: VERY GOOD POINTS. VERY PLAUSIBLE.
Aug 15, 2020
Mt. Plymouth and Another Al Capone Story
I wish we had more information about the development of Mt. Plymouth.
From what I can tell, there were some of Capone's guys that used to frequent the Orlando Golf club. The Club told them they would appreciate it if they wouldn't come the the club anymore. This annoyed them so they decided it might be a good idea to create their own golf club.
Since it was the 1920's and a land boom was happening, Capone needed places to launder his millions, so the Chicago gang financed the Mt. Plymouth hotel, the golf course, and the surrounding Mt. Plymouth.
After Florida Central Academy (the old hotel) closed, and the onslaught of curious teenagers found out about it being deserted, the hotel suffered a lot of vandalism, to the point that it was getting hopeless to save it. I remember an article in the Sentinel where a reporter contacted the owner, and yes she was from Chicago. They asked her how she felt about her property being destroyed, and she had no idea.
I also remember driving by there when the hotel was still there and seeing a large for sale sign, 600K for the hotel building and something like 20 acres. Back then I wanted to write a letter to This Old House and see if they would take on the project of restoring the hotel.
EDITOR SAYS: THERE HAVE BEEN MANY STORIES ABOUT AL CAPONE VISITING MOUNT PLYMOUTH. THE STORY YOU ARE TELLING SOUNDS PLAUSIBLE, BUT WHO KNOWS IT IS TRUE? CAPONE OPERATED SO MUCH IN SECRET THAT SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO TELL FACT FROM FICTION. ANYWAY, I LOVE THE STORY AND THANKS FOR SHARING.
Dec 29, 2019
From Al Capone to Florida Central Academy
I was raised in Mt Plymouth in the 50s n early 60s. Our home was on Adair Rd. If you turned onto Adair off of 437 it was a lite Green 2 story on the right just before the road made a left right zig zag.
It was followed by our packing house and a white 2 story. The lake behind those 2 houses, frequently called Rainey Lake, carries my mothers name in that my grandfather once owned all the land around the lake and he named it for my mother.
I rode the bus to Mt Dora for grades 1-9 and did grades 10-12 at FCA graduating in '63. As others have noted, while it was not a military school it did teach discipline and serious study habits.
I was just through the area in December of 2019 to visit the Sorrento Cemetery and my old stomping grounds. Info on the Al houses next time.
Sep 27, 2019
Mt. Plymouth Forum
I created a forum to discuss the Mt. Plymouth hotel and Florida Central Academy.
Check it out here: https://fca.feuersoft.com
EDITOR ASKS: Why do you want to remain Anonymous? This forum looks like a good idea.
Sep 24, 2019
Those gingerbread houses were very popular in California in the 1920's. You will see them all over the greater Los Angeles area. I'm pretty sure the same architect that created the houses in California built the houses in Mt. Plymouth.
Jun 14, 2019
House pictured above
I pass this house everyday. I cant say enough how fascinated I am with the home and would love to know more about it. Does anyone have any history on it or can tell me about it? I don't even know the address because I am usually going too fast to find the house # or Im looking at other aspects of the house and forget to check out the address. I would love to know what it looks like inside, I imagine its as charming inside as it is out!!
May 16, 2018
It's true that Capone spent most of his time in/around Miami but Capone owned a lot of places mainly as secrets and possible tax shelters. He also had a place in Wisconsin, as I understand that he 'hideout. I guess this is documented but I do not know how true it is.
May 15, 2018
by: Former resident
I lived there and my house was on the former location of the old hotel and air strip. I don't think I have ever lived in a more haunted house. The things I experienced were something right out of the movies. Happy not to be living there anymore!
May 04, 2018
Wild kids school
by: C. A. Black
I have to agree that the school was wild but I was one of those kids that succeeded that would not have had it not been for FCA. You see being the dumbest kid there I went on for 8 years of college to become a DC.Did it teach scholastics? It was there but more importantly, it taught mental drive and having met through e-mail at the FCA alumni site some of the kids, I would say they pretty much made it. Did it have its failures? Oh yes. Like any school but not many.
May 03, 2018
My mother and her family lived in the log cabin out there. There was a tunnel in the cabin because it was Capones home and that's how he got out. If you watch the sopranos Mt Plymouth is referenced as a place so Capone was there.
Mar 25, 2018
Unfortunately my first year of boarding school was at FCA. Fall of 1979 and finished the tenth grade in the spring and then back to KSA. The school was full of drugs and students that did everything but study or learn anything productive. It was also full of foreign students that did not speak English and were very anti American.
There were some nice teachers that tried really hard to instruct and conduct an academic curriculum but there was a great deal of undisciplined and unethical behavior from many students and some teachers. Also back then that part of Lake county was very rough. Waste of one academic year of my life.
Jul 28, 2017
The movie TARZAN was shot close to the Mount Plymouth hotel and most of its stars stayed there. The monkeys and apes were said to be left and I had to laugh when I heard a monkey was recently seen in Orlando and I even wonder sometimes about swamp monster sightings. Anyway, I went to FCA and heard many of these stories.
At FCA I guess they had flying lessons and I know they had scuba diving taught by Mr. Soukup. In all, FCA was a wild and wonderful place. Many thought it was the pits until they graduated and looked back and realized they would have never have had the success they had without FCA. It was a wonderful place and there should be more schools like it.
Jul 23, 2017
Al Capone in Mt Dora Fl is a urban legend
I have taken two different trips on Lake Dora with the a tour boat (narrated) and the cat boats (narrated with walkie-talkies. These trips were several years apart from one another and yet these two different tours stated the same thing....Al Capone owned this house.
Unless someone can produce a deed with his name and signature on it I tend to believe that these are just urban legends that grow with time. The only property that I am aware of owned by this man was in Miami and that would fit his style.
Mount Dora is a sleepy community with lots of charm, but I really don't believe the robust stories about gangsters in the 1920's and 30's.
I live in Mount Dora and am not aware of any urban legends about Al Capone owning here or visiting here. There's some talk that he vacationed in nearby Mount Plymouth, but that's the only one I've heard of.
I agree with you that the myth of Al Capone continues to grow. As I've said, he reportedly owned and slept in more places that have claimed for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. I think the tour boat operators and other tourist hucksters just think it's a good story and keep perpetuating the myth.
Jun 23, 2017
Owner of a Sam Stolz Home
We own a "Plymouthonian" AKA Sam Stolz "Gingerbread House" on the old golf course. There is a Facebook page for it: Gingerbread House "The Cornelius".
The history is quite interesting and the homes are certainly unique architectural artistry We have the notorious secret passages and hide-aways including a basement (rather, cellar), cypress framed with pecky cypress ceilings and doors, plaster abound, rounded and peaked arches and doorways, a courtyard, the famous plaster birds, coquina rock chimney (the infamous intentionally crooked one) with waterfall and pond.
If only the home and huge old trees could talk... Winter Park library online has a section dedicated to the builder and the history.
Thank you all for your continued interest.
Jun 14, 2017
The beautiful golf course was still in operation up to 10 years ago. My grandmother would take me on walks through the back roads in Mount Plymouth and Al Capone had more than one house. One is filled with secret passages and there is an old shack looking house that she said was his house he would take the ladies to.. pretty neat history there.
Jun 02, 2017
Al Capone's House on Lake Dora
by: Jodi Lyn DeVincentis
We just took a Craig Cat Boat tour on Lake Dora on Monday, Memorial Day, and our guide stopped to show us the house and told the story of Al Capone there at that house during prohibition.
The problem was we couldn't hear all the details through the walkie talkies and weren't sure which structure he was referring to. We will have to take the tour again to get the correct answer.
I thought he said it was the house with the gazebo but he could have also said the house below the house with the gazebo down on the lake.
If you take Lake Road around Lake Dora from Tavares into Mt. Dora, it is along the stretch where there are no houses between the road and the lake, only the train tracks, before turning the bend to go into downtown Mt. Dora. I do believe that is 441.
If you are on the lake, it is to the left of the boat docks accessible from the hotel/ inn behind the Main Street of downtown Mt. Dora, and beyond the few houses directly on the lake. (Not from Gilbert Park with the lighthouse)
The house with the gazebo appears to be newly painted an olive green color, you can't miss it.
There is a dilapidated concrete structure down between the tracks and lake that could be the structure our guide was referring to but I'm pretty sure he said it had the gazebo.
So it's either the green painted house above the tracks or the dilapidated structure below the tracks.
Sadly, I can't remember the details of the story either but recall that it was interesting that Al Capone used that house, or at least the basement of that house, for some of his activities.
I took pics but do not have them to share at this time. If someone recalls the details of the story I would love to hear it or confirm exactly which house it actually is.
I've never taken the Craig Cat Boat Tour but it sounds like a lot of fun. I am not aware of any house on or overlooking Lake Dora that was ever owned or inhabited by Al Capone. Maybe there is one, but I don't know which house it is or where. Even in Mt Plymouth, several miles inland from Lake Dora, Al Capone was only rumored to own houses and to stay in the now demolished old hotel there.
Sometimes I think Al Capone, though a gangster, enjoys a mythical reputation somewhat like George Washington. All over the original 13 colonies there used to be signs saying "George Washington Slept Here". I'd like to have a dollar for every place in Florida that says "Al Capone Slept Here".
May 13, 2017
Mt Dora House
It is also believed that he owned a house off Old 441 near Mt. Dora. That he had furniture built inside it so it wouldn't be stolen, it wouldn't fit through doors. He would have business meetings in the boathouse across Old 441 from the house.
Apr 15, 2017
Al Capones home in Mt. Plymouth.
I have looked under every website and still cannot get the address of this house or the Mt. Plymouth hotel. This is so sad it is a historical home and hotel. It really frustrates me that Florida does not take its history seriously. I was born here and lived here my entire childhood. Now I am back and never knew that this history was here just around the corner from where I lived and live now. Unreal, after coming back from Virginia and California where you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting something historical and proudly marked. I realize that Al Capone was a bad guy however its our history and is fascinating. Be proud Florida. Show off our history.
Researching and recording history takes a lot of work. The address of the house and of the hotel could be discovered by someone willing to take the time to research original county deeds and documents, etc. I encourage you to be that person.
Apr 09, 2017
Such a cool house
My friends used to own that house and it is truly beautiful. The plaster has cranes molded into it as the original artisans drew beautiful pictures in the walls. There is a secret passage going from the Master bedroom to the butler's room which goes down to the garage. Hidden spots to hide weapons. Just a really amazing house I'm glad I have gotten to spend time there. My friends owned the home for about 5 years and restored a lot
Mar 14, 2017
by: Coit A Black Jr
The boys academy was not a military school. It later became co-ed. I know, I went there and I still miss it.
Sep 14, 2016
It boils down to Al Capone was a gangster, and probably owned 3 or 4 houses, but none in his name because of the aforementioned.
Maybe, but Al owned his Miami home in his own name and actually bought it before he went to prison. He reportedly planned the St. Valentine's Day Massacre from his Miami mansion.
Apr 29, 2016
by: Just Jenna
The house is in great shape and is really fun to walk by and look at . Its occupied now. I am curious as to what the new owners paid for the place.
Just go to the Lake County Property Appraiser's website and search for the address. You will find the actual sales price.
Mar 06, 2016
Florida Central Academy
I went to school at FCA in the 80s,I'm looking for people who also went there. Please contact me at my email address. Thanks.
Jan 30, 2016
I will start by saying that I live in Sorrento, right next to Mt. Plymouth. Between researching the history of my house and the fact that I am an appliance tech (I have been in MANY houses in the area). I can say that it is apparent that Al Capone did in fact own a house in Mt. Plymouth.
I'm not surprised to hear you say this. Do you have any idea where the house was located and whether it is still standing?
Nov 08, 2015
Did Al Capone actually have a house in Mt. Plymouth Sorrento area or did he just stay at the old hotel?
We don't know the answer to that. Pretty much everything is rumor about where he stayed, but most folks around the area do believe he visited more than once and loved the area.
Aug 24, 2015
We own the log cabin that was built in 1926; one of Sam Stoltz's homes. I fell in love with in 1992 . Been here ever since .
May 31, 2015
I lived in one of the old homes. It was the one on the right just as 435 came onto the first hole of the golf course about a mile from 46
What memories. Chasing golfers out of the yard, golf balls breaking windows.
The house was a lot of maintenance but was neat to live in as a kid. Hidden rooms and hiding places and amazing colored concrete murals around the fire place.
Thanks, Pat. It's great to hear from somebody who actually lived in one of these homes.
Feb 11, 2015
Class of 81
A lot of mixed history first as a hotel then as a all male boarding military academy and finally as a coed boarding school. There are probably those that rather focus on the military aspect of the school rather the Al Capone.
Dec 12, 2012
i grew up there when the "florida houses" were in bright colors and the Klan lived around the corner from us. I lived on a hole..fire station was just down the dirt rd..across our house was all woods..i was young.. learned to ride a bike on the dirt roads.
Nov 14, 2012
Mt Plymouth Golf course
There is a lot of history with this golf course, it has aired on the history channel. If it could only be bought and re-opened to preserve the history of it. The club house could be renovated. With some imagination, creativeness and money I believe it could do well even with golf courses having problems with today's economy. There is a lot of history to build the course around.Oct 20, 2012
Florida Central Academy
by: Guillermo Suarez
Those of us who ha the privilege of attending FCA and also having worked there will have it live in our heart till our dying day. It was the best and most wonderful place full of friends and love.
We will always remember the four words that helped us get through
WISDOM; HONOR, TRUTH and LOYALTY , these words are inscribed in our rings and have been the basis of our life.
Oct 20, 2012
I went to Florida Central Academy for 4 years (1979-83). I was in the last graduating class before the school closed. Lots of great memories.
Apr 01, 2012
Florida Central Academy Alumni
I spent two years at Florida Central Academy. It was the school years 1970-71 and 71-72. I graduated in May of 1972. It was a great school where I made many friends that I'm still in contact with and have a lot of great memories. There has been several Reunions and I have been to two of them where I had the chance to reconnect with my old school friends and remember the good old days.
May 10, 2011
The house in your picture is a Sam Stoltz house. His houses in Mt Plymouth were built in the late 1920's. I have recently discovered 4 of sam stoltz houses in the area.One of the houses is known to be al capones bookkeepers home. I love his houses.
Apr 23, 2011
Cottage on Mt. Plymouth Road
by: Robin Sawyer
Thanks so much for sharing the information about the cottage. I drove by there today and took a picture of the same house. It's a great place and it's sad to think that more of these were torn down instead of preserved.
Apr 05, 2011
Now That's History!
by: Greg May
Mike, your article on the Mt. Plymouth hotel was priceless! Now this type of material is what your website is all about!