Friday, November 9, 2012

Eden Gardens


This stunning home was built in 1897 by William Henry Wesley. It’s located on the Tucker Bayou near Santa Rosa Beach. Mr. Wesley owned sawmills on the bayou where he cut and distributed pine all over the United States. He used the same pine to build this home. Cypress and juniper were also used in its construction. The photos you see now are post renovation in 1963.


Just look at this gorgeous entry to the property…

Who wouldn’t love to have a picnic under these spectacular old oaks? Some are over 600 years old. If they could only talk, imagine what they would have to say.


This is the way the house looked when it was originally built. Please excuse the glare on the glass. I found better photos online, but I wanted to use the one I took. The roofline was different and so were the columns and cupola. It started off with a more Victorian feel to it. Mr. Wesley was survived by his wife who lived here until she died in 1953. The house stayed empty for 10 years and fell into disrepair.

In 1963 Ms. Lois Genevieve Maxon found the house and couldn’t bear to see it in such shape. She purchased the house for $12,500.00 then turned around and spent an additional 1 million dollars to renovate it. People we are talking the 60’s that was an even bigger chunk of change than it is now. Ms. Maxon wanted a fitting place to display her families beautiful antiques.

When I entered the house I have to say I really expected something a little more on the staircase. These homes usually have such grand ones. When you consider the original style of the house I suppose it’s appropriate.


This house contains the second largest collection of original Louis the XVI furniture in the United States. The upholstery is fab-u-lous. I would never have anything like this in my house, but you have to admire the work that must have gone into making it. You know I take that back, I might would try to find a way to work it in…


This gas light was converted to use electricity… Just look at the gorgeous metal work.

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the house and I want to say thanks very much to a friend for that. I believe I was told this was Ms. Maxon’s bedroom. Oddly enough she never married. You would think with all that money eligible bachelors would be beating down her doors, but then again that may be the very reason she never wed.



Ms. Maxon wanted everyone to enjoy her home, even when it was her private residence. She asked members of the local garden club to please give tours of her home 2 days of the week so others could enjoy the beauty it had to offer. She was a newspaper woman by trade, when people came for the tours she would take her typewriter and graciously scurry up the stairs to the landing of the cupola to work. She didn’t want to be in the way of the visitors. I went up there and I was positively dying to go out on the widows walk on the roof. Alas, it was not allowed… What a view that would have been!

The estate has a wonderful garden as well. I’m assuming Ms. Maxon was a big fan of camellias because she planted over 100 different species of them on the grounds. Along with the camellias there are also several beautiful sculptures.


Ms. Maxon only lived in her beloved house for 5 years. On Christmas Eve in 1968 she, in the grandest gesture of generosity I’ve ever heard of made a multi-million dollar donation to the people of Florida. She gave her home and all the antiques in it to the state. She lived another 15 years after that and died in April of 1983. Wow…

Next up, A. G.'s garden and the beach...


  1. Great photos Randy. I love Eden. And it is nice to finally see what the interior looks like. I don't know why we've never taken the tour.

    1. Phillip,
      There is so much more of it to see. I just did't want to bog down the post with photos. Next trip you go, take the time for the tour. I could just see Michael having fits over all the furniture. :0)

  2. At first I thought it was the house your friend is restoring. I though wow done already! It was a very nice tour nonetheless. That staircase to the widow's walk looks awfully tempting indeed. What a beautiful place. Now to find out where Santa Rosa beach is located so perhaps I can visit.

    1. Tina,
      By all means if you get close enought go take a look at the house. To me, just the trees are worth the visit.

  3. What a place. She must have been quite the lady.

    1. Lisa,
      I couldn't imagine such a generous donation. She could never be accused of being selfish, that's for sure.

  4. Thanks for taking us along on your private tour. It was wonderful.

    1. Anytime Les,
      I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and the history of the house.

  5. OMG!!. I nver knew this was near Santa Rosa...My parents live in Niceville for many years and we went to seaside all the time and Destin....I wish I knew!

  6. I visited the house today. It was beautifuly decorated for Christmas. I was wondering why nobody knew what happened to Ms. Maxon after this generous gift to the state of FL...Now I saw this post and that she has lived another 15year.. any more info where she died..or her grave?

    1. I'm afraid I don't anything else about her life after that.


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