The first permanent settler in Avon Park was Oliver Martin Crosby, a Connecticut native who moved to the area in 1884 to study the wildlife of the Everglades. By 1886, enough people had followed that the town of "Lake Forest" was founded. As President of the Florida Development Company, he recruited settlers to the area, many of whom were from England including many from the town of Stratford-upon-Avon in England, who gave the town its name.
In 2006, then-mayor Thomas Macklin proposed City Ordinance 08-06, which that would have blocked the issuance or renewal of city licenses to businesses that hired illegal aliens, fined any property owner who rented and leased property to illegal aliens, and established English as the city's official language, banning the use of other languages during the conduct of official business except where specified under state or federal law. The ordinance was defeated by the city council, on a 3–2 vote.