Historic mansion and glistening lake set the tone for romantic getaways, weddings
|The Duncan House of Tavares, Fla., is located at 426 Lake Dora Drive. Rates are $199-325 a night. Check-in is between 3 and 6 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m. For more information or reservations, call (407) 760-1518, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.theduncanhouse.com.
Citrus trees lining the crushed stone circular drive is the first indication this Tavares, Fla., bed and breakfast is set during a different era.
Walking to the backdoor of The Duncan House — the front porch glistens with a reflection from Lake Dora — the towering presence of the three-story red brick mansion dominates the well manicured grounds. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the home was built in 1926 by Harry C. Duncan, son of H.H. Duncan, Lake County’s first Clerk of Court.
Bits and pieces of the home’s storied past are a frequently woven tale around town. Before his break in television, renowned Beverly Hillbillies actor, Buddy Epsen, taught dancing lessons in the upstairs suite. Today, the impromptu dance studio is a grand honeymoon suite encompassing the entire third floor of the manor.
Rose and Alex Justo purchased The Duncan House several years ago, while subtly adding to the home’s romantic lore. As the story is told, Alex was visiting nearby Mount Dora when aboard a chartered day cruise the captain noted the grand mansion was on the market. Time passed before the young man returned to Lake County for a classic car show to find the home still on the market. Weary of the metropolitan blur of South Florida, Alex approached his newly engaged fiancé about a change of scenery.
Rose recalls Alex asking her, “Do you want to get married in this house? It really is an incredible piece of property. It’s a whole different lifestyle than Miami.”
While operating as a bed and breakfast about 10 years prior to the purchase, the Justos updated the mansion and reopened it as a luxurious location for romantic getaways, but more importantly weddings.
“It’s a beautiful experience being married here,” Alex says with firsthand knowledge. “The feel of this bed and breakfast is very simple but elegant.”
Ceremonies are typically held in the majestic living room or on the lakeside front lawn. The Duncan House offers comprehensive wedding services, including catering, photography and entertainment. The house creates a unique experience for weddings as couples can lease the entire property and invite 18 to 20 of their loved ones to watch the magical event come to life in the plantation-style setting.
While weddings, corporate gatherings, family reunions and birthday parties are fashionable events at the bed and breakfast, a simple weekend escape is time well spent at The Duncan House. With a dining room that can accommodate 20 guests, gourmet breakfast at the home features homemade treats, such as pastries, quiche, breakfast casserole, bread and fresh fruit.
The home’s Southern charm and personality permeates through each suite. Two suites on the second floor offer multiple rooms with adjoining sunrooms. The private honeymoon suite on the third floor lends guests a sparkling vista of Lake Dora. The separate carriage house also provides secluded accommodations with a full kitchen. Each suite offers its own private bath, cable television and telephone.
“The Duncan House is just so different,” Rose said. “It just has a good feel.”