The beautifully renovated, two-story Wesley house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch is a focal point of the park. Surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens that inspire visions of hoop skirts and landed gentry, it was 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.
The Wesley House was built by William H. and Katie Wesley on property near their thriving sawmill. The house was completed in 1897 and the cupola was added prior to the 1920s. The family used the cupola as a spotting tower, enabling them to keep an eye on the sawmill situated at the north end of the property along the edge of Tucker Bayou. The Wesley family had nine children, so the house was organized more as a dormitory than fancy showplace. Seven of the eight main rooms served as bedrooms and the kitchen and dining room were located in a separate building off the back of the house. The Wesleys built their home with the same yellow heart pine that they cut at the sawmill; the doors and door frames were fashioned out of cypress and juniper. The house remained in the family until 1953, when Katie Wesley passed away. The house was purchased along with 10 acres of land by a developer who was interested in the business value of the property.
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. The pavilion and certain areas of the grounds are available for rental, and it is a very popular venue for weddings.
The annual Christmas Candlelight Open House will be on Saturday, December 16, 5:00-8:00 p.m. The Wesley house will be open for tours to show off its holiday finery. All the windows will bear boughs of holly and wreaths, and each of the rooms will be beautifully decorated for the season by local businesses and organizations. The outside garden paths will be lined with candlelit luminaries, and you can enjoy some hot cider and cookies while listening to holiday music provided by local musicians. This event is free to the public with donations gratefully accepted.
Eden Gardens State Park:
181 Eden Gardens Road, Point Washington
Open 8:00 AM until Sundown, 365 Days a Year
Wesley House Tours:
Thursday - Monday, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM, including holidays
For more information, call 850-267-8320