Lady Lake is where the renowned mega-retirement community, The Villages, made it start. No history of Lady Lake could exist without acknowledging the impact of Michigan native and entrepreneur Harold S. Schwartz. In the late fifties and sixties, Schwartz was in the direct-response advertising business, vis-a-vis the heath foods craze when it occurred to him that he could sell Florida's sun-drenched land the same way. He was selling lots at a profit until a Federal law in 1968 banned mail order sales of real estate. 

Undeterred, Schwartz and his then-partner Al Tarrson debuted and publicized a mobile home park they dubbed Orange Blossom Gardens on US Highway 27-441. They sold mobile homes on tracts left over from the banned mail order sales. However between 1972 and 1983, interest lagged and only 400 homes were built in this premier village. In an attempt to improve business, Schwartz bought out Tarrison's interest and, in 1983, brought his son, Gary Morse, from Michigan to manage the enterprise. Gary Morse closed his restaurant venture in Michigan and moved his family to Florida. 

Morse was an advertising man by career and, with his father, saw immediately the possibilities of increased growth and achievement. Father and son began to seriously publicize Orange Blossom Gardens. Ninety-nine manufactured homes were sold in 1983 alone. Realizing that an appealing lifestyle was as important to potential retiree home buyers as an attractive Florida location. The mid 1980's saw improvement in sales, and Schwartz then began to buy large tracts of land in near by Sumter and Marion counties for future expansion. In 1992 the overall development name was changed to The Villages.

With  well over 100,000 residents in the many themed communities within The Villages, which is still building and growing with countless amenities, targeted to residents age 55 and older. This residential development consists of entertainment town squares, shopping plazas, recreation centers, executive and champion golf courses, polo field, fitness centers, swimming pools and tennis courts. In addition, 2,000 plus special interest clubs and numerous other amenities capture the imagination and serve the interests of residents. The beauty and the vast array of activities available in this gated community at all times of the day and night amaze residents and visitors alike.


        Harold S. Schwartz

Orange Blossom Gardens 1975

Village pasture with buffalo herd owned by Schwartz.

 St. Timothy Roman Catholic Church in The Villages, 2001