Zellwood was named for Thomas Ellwood Zell, who arrived in the area in 1876. Zell sent scrapbooks displaying newspaper clippings to entice Northern friends—former Civil War officers—to settle near Lakes Maggiore and Minore. Word spread that Zellwood was a desirable place to winter and do business. Construction of millionaire steel magnate James Laughlin Jr.’s mansion began in 1885. Zellwood attracted people who built estates and new homes. Boardinghouses popped up. The Holly Arms Hotel and Zellwood Inn housed farmers, teachers, and entrepreneurs. In 1911, a train brought more settlers planning to earn their livelihood from Zellwood’s rich earth. Agriculture dominated from the 1940s through the late 1990s. Zellwood was known for sweet corn. By 1999, all but one farm had been purchased for Lake Apopka restoration. Only Long and Scott Farms carries on the tradition of growing Zellwood sweet corn by farming the sandy soil bordering the muck lands of Lake Apopka.
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