MELBOURNE, Fla. — A historic home in Melbourne, saved from being torn down about ten years ago, is facing an uncertain future once again.
- Green Gables house built in 1896
- Home is now a nonprofit; descendants of original builders still own the home
- Owners may be forced to sell the property to developers
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On the outside, Green Gables looks stuck in time. It's on the inside where its history comes alive.
Volunteer historian Marion Ambrose says William Wells, an industrialist and Nora Wells, whose uncle built Stanford University, built the home when they both settled down in Melbourne generations ago.
"The family has lived in the house for generations and they lived in the house until the 2004 hurricanes," Ambrose said.
A group of history lovers came together and turned the once-empty home into a nonprofit, although the Wells' descendants still own the home. Many of the oak trees on this property were planted by Nora Wells back in the 1800's — if you walk around the property you can still see them more than 100 years later.
Green Gables is used for photo shoots, weddings, history tours and as a way to go back in time — one of the few undeveloped locations in the area with a beautiful waterfront view.
Also, the home had the first indoor bathroom in Melbourne, and it is thought they also had electricity ten years before the rest of the city did.
But all that history will disappear if the group cannot raise $285,000 in order to receive matching funds up to $500,000 to buy the property for a million dollars.
The owners of the home are pledging to donate more than $100,000, and they are applying for a Florida Division of Historical Resources “Special Category” matching grant.
“If we don't have [the funds] by April 1st, we turn the keys back to the family and they really won't have any choice but to sell it to a developer,” Ambrose explained.
Green Gables is having a holiday celebration on Dec. 21 st starting at 3 p.m.
To learn more about the group's effort to preserve Green Gables, visit https://greengables.org.