Experience the Holidays at Eden Gardens
By McKenna Mears | Photos by Lynn Crow Photography
Nestled within the idyllic Eden Gardens State Park in Walton County, Florida, the Wesley House stands as a magnificent testament to history, culture, and cherished traditions. This upcoming year, 2024, holds a special significance as it marks the bicentennial of Walton County, and the Wesley House plays a vital role in commemorating this milestone, symbolizing the rich tapestry of history and tradition that the county holds dear.
Constructed in 1897 in the Victorian style, the Wesley House has undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to the dedication of individuals and the community. In 1963, Ms. Lois Maxon purchased the house, referring to it as her “Eden.” She acquired the property encompassing 10.5 acres for a mere $12,500. Maxon’s deep connection with the house led to a significant renovation, turning it into an antebellum-style masterpiece. The restoration efforts amounted to over a million dollars, resulting in the grandeur visitors can now enjoy.
Despite her short time living in her beloved Eden, Maxon’s generosity knew no bounds. She chose to leave the house and its grounds to the State of Florida, a heartwarming transfer that took place on Christmas Eve in 1968. It’s a testament to her love for the house and her desire to preserve it for future generations.
The Wesley House offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the splendor of a bygone era. Antique furniture from 1790 to the late 1800s graces its rooms, representing the American and European Empire periods. Keepers of the house meticulously preserve its original yellow heart pine siding, floors, and interior mouldings, along with an impressive 95 percent of its original glass pocket windows. Guided tours of the Wesley House are available year-round from Thursday to Monday, providing insights into this historic gem’s rich story and cultural significance.
As winter approaches and the holiday season draws near, this charming house undergoes a magical transformation that immerses visitors in the allure of a Victorian Christmas, this year’s theme. This enchanting journey back in time begins on November 14, 2023, as a dedicated team of volunteers, local garden clubs, and talented decorators gather to transform the house into a winter wonderland. Each room is carefully and thoughtfully adorned with Victorian-era decorations, evoking the charm and elegance of yesteryear. Public tours showcasing the Christmas decorations will begin on Thursday, November 16. Guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite room, making it a delightful competition that adds to the festive atmosphere. The house will remain decorated until January 9, 2024, ensuring an extended opportunity to savor the enchanting ambience.
A highlight of the holiday season at Eden Gardens State Park is the Christmas Candlelight Open House and Luminaries event, set to take place on December 9, 2023, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The park will be adorned with a sea of twinkling candles, trees will be aglow with festive lights, and the Wesley House will welcome visitors to explore its beautifully decorated rooms. The event will also include delectable refreshments, complimentary park entry, and shuttle service, all ensuring an unforgettable evening of holiday enchantment. It’s a joyous celebration that captures the true essence of the holidays, making it a cherished tradition for the Walton County community and beyond.
Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Walton County, mark your calendar for a visit to the Wesley House to experience the magic of the past, the beauty of the present, and the warmth of the season.
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Tickets for Wesley House daily tours can be purchased at the home upon arrival. The Christmas Candlelight Open House and Luminaries event is free of charge on December 9, 2023. Learn more about events and news at FriendsofEdenGardens.com.