In 1898, the men of Mount Dora came together to form a Masonic Lodge in the tradition of Prince Hall, a noted African-American of Colonial Boston. The lodge members of Mount Dora purchased the Witherspoon building in 1903 and have met here ever since.
In the Masonic tradition of mutual aid and community service, they have over the years offered the use of the building as a public school in the time of segregation, as a church sanctuary, as a youth library, and as a community center. In 2001, the State of Florida honored it as a Florida Historic Heritage landmark.
When the original school for Mount Dora’s black children burned in 1922, Mamie Lee Gilbert and Lula Butler spearheaded the drive for a new school. Seed money was obtained from the Rosenwald Foundation, founded in 1913 by philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, to support rural black school construction in the South.
Matching funds came from Reverend Duncan Milner, a winter resident of Mount Dora concerned with racial injustice. The school was completed in 1926 and provided an education for black children until 1955 when a new building was built. The building currently houses a Head Start program.