We recently returned from a trip to the hot and humid state of Florida. It was too muggy for me, lol. Other than that, we had a really nice time, especially in the Daytona area. One day while in Ormond Beach checking out the Ormond Memorial Art and Gardens, we were able to do a tour of The Casements and Rockefeller Gardens.
The Casements was made famous for being the winter residence of American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. It is very nice, but surprisingly smaller than I thought it would be. Originally the mansion was built in 1914 for Rev. Harwood Huntington of New Haven, Connecticut. It was named for the many casement windows incorporated into the design of the building. Apparently this really helped keep the interior cool in spite of Florida’s subtropical climate. Of course it has air now which is a life saver during the hot summer days.
We arrived a little early and walked around looking at some of the rooms and some of the brochures lying around. Apparently they have all kinds of events, including weddings, yoga classes, Zumba classes, cooking classes. However the main event is their annual Christmas party. They also have movies out on the Rockefeller Gardens. We quickly learned that the house and grounds were bought by Rockefeller in 1918. He was seventy-eight years old when he moved into the Casements. Happily she led us into the day room and shared more information about the large hand-cut casement windows that adorn the mansion. They were very beautiful.
She then explained how the place was sold upon Rockefeller’s death in 1937 and that it was then used as the Fairmont-Casements School and Junior College, a rest home for a religious organization and an annex for the old Ormond Hotel which was located across the street. Sadly it was unoccupied for many years until it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Eventually the building was purchased by the City of Ormond Beach in 1974. Today the Casements Guild members serve as docents, guiding visitors through the house. They love sharing its historical past and current uses by the city and the community.
We were able to see the kitchen as it is today as well as some pictures of how it looked when it was Rockefeller’s home, and what it was like when it was when the school owned it. We also saw the studio where they do the yoga and Zumba classes.
There were many rooms with pictures and memorabilia, but one of the more amazing pieces was the floor and fireplace in the main area. The docent said the floor was over 100 years old. Pretty lovely, huh? Couldn’t help but take some pictures.
As I said earlier, it is currently owned by the city of Ormond Beach and is used as a cultural center and park. Located on a barrier island within the city limits, it is now part of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway. Free docent lead tours are conducted Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings. Please check times one their website. It is an amazing place, and I am so glad we were able to visit.
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