by Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

The grounds of 655 West Broome Street, Clermont, have a rich history beginning with the early settlers of Clermont and the education of their children who resided in the area. From a one-room schoolhouse built in the late 1800s to the current site of the Clermont Woman’s Club, the grounds located under an umbrella of beautiful oak trees maintain a sense of peace and tranquility to this day.

The property is believed to have once belonged to the Hooks family, early settlers of the Clermont area, in the late 1800’s. Official records of that era are minimal, however, memoirs written by Oakley Seaver, a direct descendant of the Hooks family, reveal several pieces of property in the Broome Street area as owned and donated to various causes including the site of the current and original First United Methodist Church buildings. A land title from the Clermont Land Improvement Company dated 1886 confirms the purchase of that land by Robert C. Hooks.   

The site’s history on Broome Street includes a small, one-room schoolhouse that is believed to have replaced the original log cabin schoolhouse, built around 1882, and was located near Jack’s Lake in Clermont, near present-day Grand Highway and State Road 50. Oakley’s mother, Winnie Hooks Seaver was one of only seven students that attended school at the Broome Street location. After receiving an 8th-grade education, Winnie traveled to Tavares by horse and buggy for summer school sessions where she passed an examination to become a teacher at 16.


Winnie returned as a teacher to her former school, which had been enlarged to two rooms in 1913 and now included the addition of 8th-12th grades. One room for the older children and one for the younger children. Students carried drinking water from Lake Winona in tin buckets. The heat was from a wood stove and sanitary facilities were outdoor privies. The school remained in place until 1915 when a two-story, brick school was built on an empty lot on 2nd and Oak Streets in Clermont.

In 1923, the Unity Club, a group of business and professional men, decided there was a need for a Motor Camp for tourists. Local firms and individuals pledged toward the cost of material and on December 23, 1923, the Motor Camp Building was built on the site where the old schoolhouse had stood on Broome Street. The building was designed by George Hartford, a northern transplant architect living in Minneola.

By the first week of January 1924, four families were staying in the new camp facilities. The camp building was complete with a kitchen, laundry, shower bath, and a recreation room. However, in May of that same year, the Clermont Civic Club bought the camp after the camp received a lot of criticism from tourists and townspeople alike.


The Clermont Civic Club was founded in September of 1921 by a group of ladies devoted to the Clermont community’s betterment.  The club was incorporated in 1922 with five member officers presiding over the club. In 1924, the decision was made to double the size of the clubhouse on West Broome Street. Funds and materials for the project were provided by private donors, club members, and businesses.  In 1927, the Clermont Civic Club voted to change its name to the Clermont Woman’s Club. The club joined forces with various organizations throughout the community to assist in a variety of projects including the town’s Library Club. The Library Club sought assistance from the Woman’s Club and the City of Clermont in 1938 when the burden of operating and maintaining the library became too heavy. The Woman’s Club assumed sponsorship of the library in that same year. It was decided that the Library Board would consist of a chairman and five others, all to be members of the Woman’s Club.

Fast forward to today, the club has achieved many accomplishments along the way, including the distinction of its clubhouse being added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on January 7, 1993. The club, which maintains several active members, declares its objective is to aid in the betterment of civic conditions in the community and to give to the needs of the community as friendships are built through fundraising and volunteering activities. The club also maintains a scholarship program that is available to female students who have displayed academic skills, leadership qualities, and participation in both school and community. The scholarships are offered to South Lake High, Lake Minneola High, and East Ridge High students. The club also offers scholarships to women pursuing non-traditional careers or re-entering the workforce by studying at Lake Technical College.

​The Clermont Woman’s Club meets on the first Tuesday of each month (September through May), at 12:30 pm at the historic clubhouse located at 655 West Broome Street, Clermont. Visit for a full listing of activities and membership information.
Previous articleLake Technical College Welcomes New Healthcare Programs Coordinator
Next articleCommunity Foundation of South Lake Launches An Animal Welfare Fund