Eden Gardens, Florida

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This vacation we took in a little history. Near Destin, Florida is the Eden State Gardens. This little gem is a not to be missed if you are in the area. The house built in 1897 is over 5,500 square feet big. Nestled in large old southern oak trees draped in hanging moss you are immediately transported back in time. The two story house built by the Wesley family was on the same property as the family run lumber yard. Specializing in yellow pine the logs were taken by barge by the waterway of Tucker Bayou that borders the property. The original pilings can still be seen poking out of the water.

The house was built to hold a large family with seven bedrooms that the Wesley’s filled with their nine children. The children would eventually grow and move away from the area and the house would go up for sale when Mrs. Wesley passed away.

The second owner of the home would take the workers cottages and sell them for a profit as beach houses in the 1940’s and move them off of the property to other locations. It was such a profitable move that he tore the dining room and kitchen wing off of the main house, divided it into two, moved it off of the property and sold it as beach cottages. The large two story house would then remain empty for 10 years, wounded and quiet.

Lois Maxon would be the next person to own the amazing two story house. This would be her retirement home and she purchased the house for $12,000. For the next several years she would work on the house molding it into the form found now. Modifying the columns by removing the bric-a-brac that decorated the tops and removing the lower story porch railing, she made the home look more antebellum south. Flattening the roof line would bring a viewers attention to the porches that wrapped both stories of the large white house. Landscapers would develop the landscaping into several gardens. A pond, which once held bass and fish stocked to feed the working crew, in front of the house, would eventually be transformed into a 2 feet deep reflecting pool that held colorful Japanese koi.

French provincial furniture would fill the new parlor made from two of the bedrooms on the first floor. Family antiques and European purchases would fill the bedrooms and remaining rooms. The back portion of the porch would be closed in for the new kitchen replacing the missing kitchen and the room adjacent turned into the new dining room. More changes would include central heat and air, electric and indoor plumbing driving the cost of the repairs to a million dollars.

Lois, heiress to fortunes from her furniture making family would donate the house to the state with the direction that it would become a museum in memory of her parents. It is a must see if in the area, walk the grounds, smell the flowers, picnic on the grass and be transported back in time.


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