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Florida State Parks are in various stages of accessibility, and are working to improve access to services and facilities. Should you need assistance to enable your full participation, please contact the individual park office as soon as possible. Sometimes as many as ten days may be needed to schedule a particular accommodation.




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EDEN STATE GARDENS

edenEden State Gardens was once the home of the William Henry Wesley family is now a place of tranquility and contemplation. Yet, nearly 100 years ago, a visit to Eden State Gardens would have vibrated with the whir of mechanical and human energy.



HISTORY
The site was the hub of the Wesley Lumber Company, one of the many businesses involved in timbering the forests of the Florida Gulf coast from the 1890s until after World War I. Company holdings included a saw mill, planer mill and dry kiln. A dock extended into Tucker Bayou to facilitate the loading of lumber onto barges for shipment. The lumber was barged west to Pensacola, then shipped to northern and western states, Europe and parts of South America. The men who worked for the Wesleys lived with their families in about 20 company-owned houses. A company commissary served their needs. Wesley build his own residence near the mill in 1897, and members of the family lived there until 1953.

Fire was not unusual in these sawmill villages where every building was made of wood, and the mill burned three times. After the third fire, it was not rebuilt. All that remains today on the 12 acres in Walton County are the Wesley house and a few scattered building foundations.

Even though the little community declined and its population scattered, the Wesley family stayed. This was their home, a place where their births, deaths and marriages occurred. In 1953, when the last of the Wesley generations died, the house and land were sold. Ten years later, it was on the market again; and Lois Maxon fell in love with it and purchased it.



THE WESLEY HOUSE

The house was probably the largest residential structure in the area. The house's timber framing was cut nearby and floated down the Choctawhatchee river. The design was one that became familiar throughout the Florida panhandle during the 19th century: two stories, each made up of two equal groups of two rooms, divided by a central hallway on both stories. Its style of construction was well-adapted to Gulf coast conditions in the days before air conditioning. The house was built on piers, permitting air circulation while avoiding extreme flood damage when Tucker Bayou or Choctawhatchee Bay rose. Porches circled both stories. Windows on both floors were very large permitting free air circulation during the hot, humid months.

Lois Maxon developed the Wesley house as a showplace for her collection of family heirlooms and antiques. Changes were made to suit her needs. Two original chimneys and partition on the first story were removed to make the large music room. A fireplace and chimney were added on the south porch. Extra rooms were created at the rear of the house by enclosing the porches of both stories. The brick infill around the foundation that makes the house appear to have a solid basement probably dates from her time as well. The grounds were developed by Miss Maxon to show the house to full advantage. In 1968, Miss Maxon donated Eden to the state of Florida in memory of her parents.



THE GARDENS

Moss-draped live oaks, which predate the Wesley Company, dominate the lawns. Camellias and azaleas offer colorful accents to the scene from October through May; enjoy the peak bloom around mid- March.

THE GROUNDS

The grounds, gardens and picnic area are open daily from 8 a.m. until sundown. The house is open for hourly guided tours from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. A nominal fee is charged for tours. A picnic area with adjacent parking is available at the old mill site on Tucker Bayou.


Eden State Gardens is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.

For more information, contact:
Eden State Gardens
P.O. Box 26
Point Washington, Florida 32454
(850) 231-4214


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