The History of Apopka
After the Armed Occupation Act that asserted that the Seminoles must retreat and various military outposts set up camp, there began an increase in settlement of the Apopka area. Many forward minded businessmen saw the region as a prime business opportunity for development, trade and transportation. The first settlers of Apopka took advantage of the settlement that was already established there by the Seminole. This drew more settlers that eventually led to a population large enough for the formation of Masonic Lodge that was built in 1857. This lodge became a primary meeting place for settlers all around the area that were looking to trade and talk business.
During the Civil War the settlers of this area became extremely isolated due to blockades against trade, but once the war ended the Masonic Lodge again became a central meeting point. With the construction of the railroad the Apopka area saw a significant population explosion. The local post office was created in 1869 due to increased demand.
While the area surrounding The Lodge was considered Apopka by 1882, it did see a slight stall in growth in comparison with the rest of the country. This was due largely in part to extreme weather that hit the region in the late 1800s. This extreme, cold weather led to a significant drop in population due to the loss of crops and a fear that such events could occur more often than had previously been thought.
However, the growth began again by the second decade of the 1900s. Many very wealthy entrepreneurs saw business opportunities in the area. They greatly enjoyed escaping to the region to enjoy the beautiful winter weather and felt that others would as well. Of course, as we now know their beliefs were extremely accurate. In very little time there was an explosion in the development of hotels, businesses, land sales and the institution of utilities such as plumbing and electricity.
These land developers then launched massive ad campaigns to attract Americans from all over the country. It wasn’t long before it was known as a prime vacation destination. Part of making this possible was the economic boom of the 1920s that led to the largest middle and upper middle class population the country had ever seen before.
Since the boom days the area has continued to see steady growth. In addition to being known as a prime vacation destination it is now also home to thousands that move to the area seasonally to escape the winter conditions found in the north. These seasonal inhabitants are often referred to as snow birds and bring a great deal of economic activity from November through May each year.
To this day there are five buildings that remain from the city’s early days. One, which is a staple of the growth is the Apopka Seaboard Airline Railway Depot that was built in 1918. Another historic location is the Waite-Davis house which was built in 1886. Other buildings include the Mitchell-Tibbetts House, Ryan & Company Lumber Yard and the Carroll Building.