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Point Washington began as Wesley Lumber Company's hub, one of many lumber companies that timbered the Gulf Coast forests in Florida from the late 19th century until the end of the first World War. Wesley Lumber Company consisted of a planing mill, a saw mill, and a dry kiln. Lumber was loaded on barges in Tucker Bayou by way of a dock. The wood was shipped to Pensacola, to the west, and from there to states in the north and west, as well as South America and Europe. The company owned 20 homes to house the workers and their families, and a commissary attended to the workers' needs. William Henry Wesley constructed his home close to the mill, and his family resided there from its completion during 1897 until the 1950s.
The threat of fire was constant in timber towns where everything was constructed from wood. The mill burned down three times, and was rebuilt twice. The only remnants of the Wesley Lumber Company's twelve acres today in Walton County are a few old foundations and the Wesley House itself.
Point Washinton declined and the population dispersed, but Wesley's family remained in their family home, which had already seen a great deal of family history – marriages, births, and deaths. The last Wesley died in 1953 and the house was sold with its land. The Wesley house was listed for sale again ten years later, and Lois Maxon bought it.
The Wesley house was one of the largest, if not the largest, homes in the entire area. The timber frame of the house was cut and sent down the Choctawhatchee River. The layout of the house became well-known throughout the Emerald Coast in the 1800s: two groups of two equal rooms on each of two stories, each bisected by a hallway down the middle. The house's construction fit well with Gulf-coast heat before the advent of air conditioners. The house built raised on piers which allowed air to circulate and afforded it protection from flooding when Choctawhatchee Bay or Tucker Bayou overflowed their boundaries. Porches encircled each level. Large windows on each floor permitted air to circulate throughout the house during the heat and humidity of Florida summers.
Lois Maxon re-developed the home to showcase her extensive collection of family antiques and heirlooms. Two chimneys and a partition were taken out on the first floor to create an enormous music room. A new fireplace with chimney was built onto the southern porch. New rooms were built on the back of the house by walling in the porches on each story. The bricked filling circling the house's foundation was probably added by Ms. Maxon as well; this addition makes the house look as though it contains a solid, full basement. Ms. Maxon invested in extensive landscaping about the grounds to show off the house with maximum benefit. Ms. Maxon donated the house and grounds, now named Eden, to the state to honor her deceased parents in 1968.
Moss-covered live oaks, older than Wesley Company, spread their arms over much of the lawns of Eden State Gardens. Azaleas and camellias lend colorful accent to the gardens from fall to late spring; the height of their bloom occurs through March.
Eden Gardens State Park
P. O. Box 26
Point Washington, FL 32454
Eden State Gardens and Mansion
County Road 395
Point Washington, FL