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Good For Kids
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The house is the main attraction here and fits in well with its surroundings.
Eden Gardens State Park
Closest available address
Park is 34 miles west of Panama City, off of Highway 30/98.
Park is open 8:00am-sunset. House tours are hourly Thu.-Mon., 10:00am-3:00pm.
Best time to visit
Santa Rosa Beach
Eden Gardens State Park is a 161 acre park 34 miles west of Panama City. The park fronts Tucker Bayou, a smaller saltwater arm of Choctawhatchee Bay, which is a bigger salt water body off the Gulf of Mexico. The park's main attraction is a two-story Classic Revival house, which dates from the 19th century and includes a rare collection of Louis XVI furniture. The grounds include beautiful live oak trees, several small flower gardens, and a reflecting pool with fish. There also is a one mile nature trail that meanders through the woods.
The Wesley House was built in 1897 by William Wesley, who owned a lumber company. His family lived here till 1953 when Wesley’s wife died and the property was sold. The unoccupied house then became severely dilapidated. Lois Maxon bought it 1963, and likely saved the house from collapse. She spent over a million dollars (a considerable sum in the 1960s) to renovate and transform the house into a showcase for her antique furniture. Maxon also created the gardens and improved the grounds. She only lived here a few years before poor health caused her to leave. Maxon then generously donated the property and antiques to the state of Florida.
The house and antique furniture are the main reasons to visit the park, so double-check the tour schedule before making your plans. Aside from workers preparing for a wedding, there were just a handful of park visitors and no one else on the house tour. The tour guide was a pleasant local volunteer. He first discussed the home's history and then talked about Lois Maxon and the furniture collection. The tour may sound dull, but it wasn't. Learning about Maxon's brief but impactful presence here and about the finely crafted antiques was interesting. As for the gardens, few flowers were blooming in November, but at other times of year, roses, camellias and azaleas are bountiful. The grounds were easy to walk around, and huge live oak trees added to a picturesque setting. Visiting here was enjoyable both for the overall charm of the place and the impressive antiques. The park will most appeal to people into historic homes and flower gardens. It will have little interest for kids.
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