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The History of the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance

Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance began in July 2020 and established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Alliance was formed shortly after community pastors, leaders, and citizens who attended the historical Lincoln Park School were informed that Clermont Elementary School would be decommissioned in 2023. Lake County is instead building the new Aurelia M. Cole Academy K-8 School as a replacement. The Lincoln Park school is known as Clermont Elementary School today. It was the first school constructed by and for African Americans in Clermont. Our goal is for the building to remain in the community and function as a center to benefit and contribute to the education and success of individuals. Our mission is to build community through creativity, collaboration, and access to life-changing opportunities in South Lake County.

Lincoln Park History

Lincoln Park School was started by a community group interested in their children and their education. James S. Townsend Sr organized the first Negro school in 1902. The schoolhouse was a one-room building between Clermont and Minneola. It began with a class of nine children, then grew to thirteen children by 1906, leading them to relocate to the Townsend home on Chestnut Street. Lincoln Park then began as the Clermont negro school. Citizens came together and donated the labor to build a three-room school for grades 1 through 8. The school was located on fifth street just north of Highway 50 on Lake Dot. By 1960 Lincoln Park had expanded and became a high school. Mr. William McKinney was the first Principal of the High school. Full integration was completed in 1970, and Lincoln Park became Clermont Middle School. Today it is known as Clermont Elementary School. It was the first school designed for African Americans and built by families in our community. It is a pivotal part of South Lake County history, and we believe it is our duty to preserve it.

Our Success

Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance (LPSLA) members and supporters believe South Lake needs services and facilities where everyone can come together and achieve the best version of themselves. We have advocated to build community, close education gaps, provide employment training and leadership skills, collaborate, create, and interact through the arts and recreation activities. The LPSLA impact committee recently lead an initiative to repurpose Clermont Elementary. The team presented various programs and information to Lake County, Lake County School Boarc, Lake Tech, and the City of Clermont. The end resulted in developing a program that provides a learning atmosphere for working students and adding Career Training/Tech/ Vocational programs for young adults and adults alike. It took three years to reach this decision—numerous meetings and presentations to the school board, the city, and lake tech. The LPSLA donated countless hours of their time advocating for approval and funding. LPSLA will continue to focus on enrichment and healthy community interactions through creativity and collaboration for all generations with these organizations.

Future Efforts

The Alliance has a vision for the future of South Lake. The objective of the Alliance is to discuss community needs, establish plans to execute programs and projects around said conditions and collaborate for those plans to come to fruition. The LPSLA is advocating for various revitalization initiatives for the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In addition, we are working towards creating a community center in South Lake and expanding recreational and enrichment activities options. The city has agreed that the community center is something South Lake needs, and we will be sure to voice the needs and wants of the community during the programming. Lastly, we are working together with the Historical Society to curate and document the history of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood.

Ultimately Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance will continue to bring togetherness, collaboration, and a more sustainable future here in South Lake. We can all agree that it is essential to preserve the history of the Lincoln Park so our children and grandchildren can appreciate different experiences and build empathy through knowledge of a different life. LPSLA wants to create opportunity and access here in the south lake area to lead to life-changing opportunities. Join us to find solutions and bring success to South Lake by donating and volunteering today.

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