Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eden Gardens State Park

Last week while we were at the beach, Steve and I visited Eden Gardens State Park which features a really

Pretty Old House.  We'd seen signs for the park on highway 98 on the way to Tops'l and decided to take a little day trip.

The park gardens are just lovely with huge live oaks draped with Spanish moss and ferns.

One tree they call The Wedding Tree is over 600 years old.  (A core sample was done to date it.)

 Weddings are held on the grounds. I wish they'd had pictures from some of the weddings--what a great setting.
They have about 50 weddings a year here- probably a good revenue source for the park.

The following is from the History section of the Eden Gardens' website.

... the tranquil home of the William Henry Wesley family and the bustling Wesley Lumber Company which included a sawmill, planer mill and dry kiln with a dock for loading barges in Tucker Bayou. Wesley built his home in 1897 and lived there with his family until 1953 when his wife, Katie Strickland Wesley died and it was sold along with 10.5 acres. In 1963, Lois Maxon fell in love with the house and purchased it, converting it into a showplace for her family antiques and heirlooms. She developed the grounds as ornamental gardens and in 1968 donated Eden Gardens to the state.


William H. Wesley went into the sawmill business with Simeon Strickland, the man who later became his father-in-law. They built a sawmill on the edge of Tucker Bayou, on the northern edge of the property in Point Washington, Florida. The sawmill pictured in the photo was one of three that Mr. Wesley operated in that location between the 1890s and 1930s. The Wesley sawmill was used to cut yellow heart pine, forested locally in the Panhandle at the turn of the century. After the logs were cut, they were floated to Pensacola on barge-like structures for shipping to locations nationwide. Final destinations for the lumber included Chicago and New York City. The sawmill shut down in the 1930s as all the pine available for logging in north Florida had been timbered out. Yellow heart pine was a prized wood for building because it was a very hard wood and it has proven its worth to this day. The Wesley House has withstood the problems associated with Florida's climate, moisture and insects, unlike other buildings of that era.

Here's Tucker Bayou.  We sat on a bench overlooking the water.  It was so peaceful. Dolphins were swimming around in the quiet water.  When they came up to breathe we could hear them blow.
I loved it.