Friday, January 21, 2022

A Bit of History and Fun in Florida's Space Coast

Hello and welcome back to the blog. First entry in over a year, and it's not about Disney! Go figure. 

It's about my random visit to the Lawndale Historic Museum and house in Rockledge, Florida in December of 2021. Since it was the holiday season, I was fortunate to see it dressed in Christmas finery. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the experience, seeing how they used natural material and decorations to spruce up the spaces. I've been wanting to do the same in our home here in Orlando, so this served as inspiration in many ways. 

The Hiram Smith (H.S.) Williams Family traveled around the country and settled in Rockledge, Florida in 1874. They built the Queen Ann style home that still stands today on the banks of the Indian River, just south of Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center. I doubt they ever imagined their ancestors would see rockets from those same window views less than 100 years later. 

H.S. started a citrus shipping company, drawing business to this section of the Indian River and expanding the population. He brought the first telephone service to Brevard County. He was also a proponent of education, and built a small school-room on the back of the property. 

He died in the house in 1921 at the ripe age of 89. 

His son, Sydney, attended East Florida Seminary, which later became the University of Florida. Go Gators! He and his sister, Myra, also both attended Rollins College. 

Four generations of The Williams family lived in the house continuously until 1989, when Brevard County purchased it for restoration. 

I happened upon this while out for a drive along one of my favorite stretches of road. Scroll through to see some pictures, and read at the end for a suggested day trip itinerary in case you want to visit yourself!

The front porch faces east, toward the river and the ocean

The formal dining room set for the holiday season. The color scheme is authentic to holiday cards and decorations found from the time period (late 1800s). 

Natural elements and handcrafted decorations adorn the spaces. 

Simple, festive, natural. 

An original puzzle set from the family.

This piano was gifted to the daughter, Myra, after she graduated from college. Her shawl drapes across the top and again more natural seasonal decoration. 

The conversion from gas to electric was still spotty at the time; this fixture could use either in case one didn't work. 

The last remaining relative to live in the house until 1989, had this view from her window. Her original shoes are still in her drawer, below. 

The library 

The school room decorated for Christmas. 

Teacher's desk in the school room. 

Natural elements and original holiday cards from the time period offer a different color pallet than the typical red and green we associate with Christmas in modern day. 

Hand spun paper chains and fish scale artwork

Dried apple garland

Dried fruit hanging in the kitchen window

Ok, so if you'd like to take a drive down a beautiful scenic road, get a bit of history, have lunch and shop in historic downtown Cocoa Village, and spend a day in Florida's Space Coast, read on! 

I'd recommend starting on the south end of the Rockledge Drive, coming up US1 North. You'll have to type it into your map or keep you eye out on the right hand side of US1 for an unassuming road that veers off to the right. Trust me, this is it! Drive a short bit up that road and you'll be taken back in time with old historic houses and tranquil tropical breezes. Drive slow and make your way to Downtown Cocoa Village. There are lots of good spots to grab a bite. We ate at Thai Thai and enjoyed it. The Tulip and Cafe Margaux are other local favorites. You can see more about shopping and dining in Cocoa Village here. 

Gotta love old Florida style. Honor system for fruit picked right off the tree that morning. 

Old houses tucked into even older oak trees. 

I wish you could smell the salty air, feel the fresh sea breeze, and hear the ospreys as they hunt for fish. You'll just have to go experience for yourself! 

Glad to see history being preserved and appreciated. 

Scenic route, incorporated August 7, 1887

Groove mid-century house with Coke bottle glass 😍

The wide porch and low tree branches!

Lawndale hours of operation

Spring rolls and tom kah gai soup at Thai Thai