Lawndale - The Hiram Smith Williams House

Lawndale - The Hiram Smith Williams House Lawndale is a historic house in Rockledge, Florida, built by Hiram S. Williams, starting ca 1874. It is currently being restored as a house museum.
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Lawndale is a historic home in Rockledge, Florida, built by Hiram Smith Williams. The house is a registered on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing structure to the Rockledge Drive Historic District. The house was built in at least two stanzas - the first beginning in 1874 upon his arrival to the area, and the second stanza completed around 1890, when the house reached it

Lawndale is a historic home in Rockledge, Florida, built by Hiram Smith Williams. The house is a registered on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing structure to the Rockledge Drive Historic District. The house was built in at least two stanzas - the first beginning in 1874 upon his arrival to the area, and the second stanza completed around 1890, when the house reached it

Operating as usual

This coming Saturday! We open our doors 10 AM - 3 PM for tours - if you haven't yet visited one of Rockledge's most stor...
07/02/2021

This coming Saturday! We open our doors 10 AM - 3 PM for tours - if you haven't yet visited one of Rockledge's most storied homes, we invite you to drop by! Tours $10 per adult, no reservations required.

We are excited to be coming up on our next open day, July 3rd, 10 AM to 3 PM. Here's  little sneak peek at what you'll b...
06/23/2021

We are excited to be coming up on our next open day, July 3rd, 10 AM to 3 PM. Here's little sneak peek at what you'll be seeing inside the house. Celebrate the July 4th weekend by experiencing history right here in central Brevard County!

Click through to the pictures for more details about each space shown!

We're coming up on the first Saturday of June - and that means we're open! Come tour one of Rockledge's earliest homes, ...
06/04/2021

We're coming up on the first Saturday of June - and that means we're open! Come tour one of Rockledge's earliest homes, and learn of those who lived there! Open 10 AM to 3 PM, No reservations needed, donation of $10 per adult. All proceeds go toward the continuing restoration efforts going on at Lawndale.

Here we have the detail of the piano, that now sits in the back parlor, interpreted as a ladies' parlor. This was given to Hiram's daughter, Myra, as a gift upon returning from her schooling at Rollins College - she was an accomplished musician and we still have many of her music books which she played from. We love the Eastlake style of this panel!

We're coming up on the first Saturday of June - and that means we're open! Come tour one of Rockledge's earliest homes, and learn of those who lived there! Open 10 AM to 3 PM, No reservations needed, donation of $10 per adult. All proceeds go toward the continuing restoration efforts going on at Lawndale.

Here we have the detail of the piano, that now sits in the back parlor, interpreted as a ladies' parlor. This was given to Hiram's daughter, Myra, as a gift upon returning from her schooling at Rollins College - she was an accomplished musician and we still have many of her music books which she played from. We love the Eastlake style of this panel!

Put on your heels, as tomorrow we will be open once again for tours, from 10AM to 3PM! No reservation required, $10 dona...
04/30/2021

Put on your heels, as tomorrow we will be open once again for tours, from 10AM to 3PM! No reservation required, $10 donation per adult.

These spectator pumps, ca 1935 belonged to Myra Gray Williams, Hiram's daughter who, after her father's passing in 1921, remained at Lawndale and ran his citrus groves and business. This is one of many personal items we have of the Williams family at the house and we are so happy to be able to share these little glimpses into Rockledge's past.

Come see us tomorrow!

Put on your heels, as tomorrow we will be open once again for tours, from 10AM to 3PM! No reservation required, $10 donation per adult.

These spectator pumps, ca 1935 belonged to Myra Gray Williams, Hiram's daughter who, after her father's passing in 1921, remained at Lawndale and ran his citrus groves and business. This is one of many personal items we have of the Williams family at the house and we are so happy to be able to share these little glimpses into Rockledge's past.

Come see us tomorrow!

Since the attic level is not on our public tours - we thought we would share some photos from the spaces not on the publ...
04/14/2021

Since the attic level is not on our public tours - we thought we would share some photos from the spaces not on the public tour to give an idea of what it's like up there.

The attic level consists of two finished bedrooms, a hall around the stairs, unfinished storage space in the rafters above the study and south bedroom, and the partially finished tower room.

The two bedrooms were the space lived in by the Williams' maid, Augusta Black, in 1885. After her departure sometime in the 1890s, to return to Demopolis, Alabama, to raise her own family, we believe these rooms were rented out to boarders. Both rooms are provided with closets, and the bedroom facing the river is equipped with shelves, supported by Eastlake cast-iron brackets with their original gilded finish (We'll show those in another post later on, because we're not able to find one at the moment!) These two rooms retain their original 1880s paint finishes, showing evidence that their tongue-and-groove cladding had been used elsewhere in another structure or in another part of the house that was reclad or no longer extant, as the paint on this cladding has noticeable gaps where it abutted another structural member, and the paint was never retouched.

A roughly sawn hole in the cladding of the hall, most likely cut during the process of constructing the addition to give access to connect the addition Ell' roof to the main body of the house, opens into an unfinished attic space, a path of floorboards, roughly 24" wide, leads to the chimney stack above the dining room fireplace, and south bedroom heating stove, where, turning left, you enter the tower room.

Arguably the tower room is architecturally one of the more remarkable spaces at Lawndale - there is more evidence of reused building materials, as some studs have original exterior paint colors (spoiler alert: the exterior paint scheme is slightly toned down from its 1880s appearance.) The stained glass windows in this space, which during the day will cast pools of vari-colored light on the floor, are original to this section of the house, and were the three of four original windows not discarded in the 1960s when the original windows were replaced with aluminum frames).

Looking up in this space, you are met with the roof joists funneling up into the turret roof, with the base of the turned finial visible as the central block by which all the joists radiate. Not only is this practical for the purposes of holding the roof up, but also quite beautiful to study. Close inspection will reveal that the 1990s raised seam metal roof was installed over the gentle upward scoop of the tower roof as you reach the eaves. As grateful as we are to have a non-leaking roof on the house, we kind of wish they had noticed that detail before going ahead with the current roof, as this visually alters the house - but this is a thing with restoration and houses - we know it was there, and when the time comes to replace the roof, we can put it back.

In Hiram's lifetime, this tower space was one of his quiet places, where he would retreat to look through a brass spyglass, to observe the steamers and boats plying the shallow waters of the Indian River Lagoon. It's also a very good place to experience how balloon-framing flexes under forces of wind as anyone who has been up there during a storm will know (Maybe that's just the author of this post who can speak to that - but it was really neat!).

We hope you enjoyed these photos of the attic spaces at Lawndale, and we will post more little details in the future!

This coming Saturday we are open! 10 AM to 3PM, $10 donation per adult for guided tours. Come and tour one of Rockledge'...
03/30/2021

This coming Saturday we are open! 10 AM to 3PM, $10 donation per adult for guided tours. Come and tour one of Rockledge's most historically significant homes, and learn its history.

(Also, this screen which can be seen in Myra Gray William's room, feels perfect for Easter and Spring with its little birdies)

This coming Saturday we are open! 10 AM to 3PM, $10 donation per adult for guided tours. Come and tour one of Rockledge's most historically significant homes, and learn its history.

(Also, this screen which can be seen in Myra Gray William's room, feels perfect for Easter and Spring with its little birdies)

This coming Saturday! If you haven't visited Lawndale yet, drop by!
03/01/2021

This coming Saturday! If you haven't visited Lawndale yet, drop by!

This coming Saturday! If you haven't visited Lawndale yet, drop by!

Don't forget - you have an opportunity to tour Lawndale this coming Saturday, February 6th, 10 AM to 3 PM, no reservatio...
02/01/2021

Don't forget - you have an opportunity to tour Lawndale this coming Saturday, February 6th, 10 AM to 3 PM, no reservation required! Donation of $10 at the door per adult for guided tours. Learn about Hiram S. Williams, citrus grower, senator, carriage-builder, and horticulturalist, the Williams family, see their house and its ca 1895 period furnishings, and gain a greater appreciation for the history we have right here in Rockledge. We hope to see you Saturday!

Don't forget - you have an opportunity to tour Lawndale this coming Saturday, February 6th, 10 AM to 3 PM, no reservation required! Donation of $10 at the door per adult for guided tours. Learn about Hiram S. Williams, citrus grower, senator, carriage-builder, and horticulturalist, the Williams family, see their house and its ca 1895 period furnishings, and gain a greater appreciation for the history we have right here in Rockledge. We hope to see you Saturday!

Additional information for our Christmas Tours coming December 11th, 12th, and 13th!______"Lawndale will be open for the...
11/23/2020

Additional information for our Christmas Tours coming December 11th, 12th, and 13th!
______

"Lawndale will be open for the Historic Homes tour for one weekend only, December 11, 12, 13. Hours are 10 to 3 on Friday and Saturday and 12 to 3 on Sunday. No reservations are necessary. As an added holiday treat the City of Rockledge will open two additional historic buildings close by, the 1927 old Municipal Building and the 1917 old St Mary's Church, there will be no additional charges for visiting these historic sites they will be open the same days and hours as Lawndale. Maps of the 3 National Register Historic Districts in the area will be available for those who wish to walk or drive through to see additional historic homes. All Covid guidelines apply with masks and social distancing."

Additional information for our Christmas Tours coming December 11th, 12th, and 13th!
______

"Lawndale will be open for the Historic Homes tour for one weekend only, December 11, 12, 13. Hours are 10 to 3 on Friday and Saturday and 12 to 3 on Sunday. No reservations are necessary. As an added holiday treat the City of Rockledge will open two additional historic buildings close by, the 1927 old Municipal Building and the 1917 old St Mary's Church, there will be no additional charges for visiting these historic sites they will be open the same days and hours as Lawndale. Maps of the 3 National Register Historic Districts in the area will be available for those who wish to walk or drive through to see additional historic homes. All Covid guidelines apply with masks and social distancing."

Start your holiday season this year with a trip to Christmas in Rockledge in 1895 with a holiday tour at Lawndale!We are...
11/05/2020

Start your holiday season this year with a trip to Christmas in Rockledge in 1895 with a holiday tour at Lawndale!

We are very happy to announce we are participating in the Museums of Brevard Inaugural Christmas Tour of Homes! December 11th, 12th, and 13th, 2020! The public's safety is our priority, and tours will be limited to groups of 4 at a time. For information call: 321-632-5650

Early glimpses of Lawndale: This photograph was taken before the house reached its final form, possibly between 1885 and...
01/19/2018

Early glimpses of Lawndale: This photograph was taken before the house reached its final form, possibly between 1885 and 1890. It most definitely was taken before the 1895 freeze which decimated citrus crops locally. The citrus trees in front of the house, we imagine, were probably specimen trees Hiram Williams was experimenting with, as he was an avid horticulturist with an interest in crop cultivation in subtropical climates. These trees do not appear in the early photographs of the house in its final form, and we can assume they had been killed in the freeze of 1895. His writings in the Florida Agriculturalist document his efforts at determining what grew easily in Florida's climate, recording his observations at Lawndale.

Hiram and his wife, Cornelia, are seen on the bench in the center of the photograph. Sydney, Hiram's son, we believe, is seen sitting on the steps of the porch. Hiram's daughter Myra, is next to Cornelia on the bench. The other figures in the photo are unidentified. At this point, the porch had not yet wrapped around the corner of the main body of the house to the addition.

The addition, we believe, by this time had not had the corner tower added, but must have contained Hiram's study on the second floor, and a smaller dining room downstairs. The paint scheme, at this point, was darker than later photographs, and based on the reused lumber seen inside unfinished parts of the house, was an "invisible" green with a medium golden-yellow. A third color may have existed, but to my memory has not been observed in the reused lumber in the attic spaces. The fountain with its round basin edged in conch shells is visible, as well as an unidentified object in the yard, which may have been weather observation equipment, as Williams kept detailed weather observations in his journals

Over this weekend, we had a number of original gas light shades and early electric shades brought over to the house for ...
06/08/2017

Over this weekend, we had a number of original gas light shades and early electric shades brought over to the house for assessment. Mr. Williams' grand-daughter, Margaret, has held onto them for re-use in the house's restoration. It's so good to finally see them back in the house, and they will inform us on what style gas fixturing to acquire for the house (we believe the originals were donated or sold for the war effort for WWI.)

Up through the 1910s, most of Rockledge was lit by acetylene gas, which most rural communities used as a source of lighting up until federal- and state-driven pushes were made to electrify rural areas throughout the twentieth century (the poster's dad remembers when there was a push to run electricity out to parts of where his family lived out in rural southeastern Georgia). The convenience of acetylene gas mainly stemmed from the fact that it could be produced on site, and a municipal supply was not required.

There are three distinct gas-shade styles we noted, an aesthetic-period style, with slanted sides, from the 1880s, a transitional ruffled style, moving into the Queen Anne movement, which we think dates roughly to 1890, and a single Queen Anne shade, with neoclassical garlands that seems to firmly date, stylistically to the turn of the twentieth century. These fit roughly with the stanzas of construction of the house, and we'll use the different styles of shades to suit the timeline of the house's construction

Based on the electric-period shades we have, we think electricity came to the house in the 1910s, as some of the milk-glass shades suggest. Other shades appear to be later, running into the 1920s and 1930s, which may have appeared in the house to replace the gas fixtures sold or donated earlier on.

This day in history: 1861 - Hiram S. Williams writes a letter to the New York Coach-maker's Magazine, which would be pub...
04/30/2017

This day in history: 1861 - Hiram S. Williams writes a letter to the New York Coach-maker's Magazine, which would be published in their May 1862 Edition with an engraving of a 29-year old Williams. The engraving was most likely taken from a Carte de Visite portrait taken while Williams was still in Alabama. In twelve years, he would be seeking a new home in Florida, eventually settling on the site where he would build his house:

Lawndale Avocados - these beauties were blown by the hurricane last week from high up in an avacado tree in the south si...
10/15/2016

Lawndale Avocados - these beauties were blown by the hurricane last week from high up in an avacado tree in the south side of the yard and are just beginning to ripen. We can't wait to see how these taste!

Lawndale weathered the storm without any damage to the home - some tree damage, but we are thankful (and admittedly slig...
10/13/2016

Lawndale weathered the storm without any damage to the home - some tree damage, but we are thankful (and admittedly slightly surprised) that not a single window even was broken during the storm. This photo was taken today after an afternoon of yard clean-up. We made a dent, but there's still much more work to be done!

Kitchen at Lawndale.
09/27/2016

Kitchen at Lawndale.

We apologize for our recent absence! The intense heat lately has made work at the house sporadic at best. At least we ge...
07/21/2016

We apologize for our recent absence! The intense heat lately has made work at the house sporadic at best. At least we get good cross-ventilation when the windows are open!

Thinking of sunshine on this rainy day: Sunlight streaming through the stained glass and landing on the attic floor in t...
06/08/2016

Thinking of sunshine on this rainy day: Sunlight streaming through the stained glass and landing on the attic floor in the tower room of Lawndale.

Lawndale, this afternoon.
06/02/2016

Lawndale, this afternoon.

Wide-angle lenses can be fun - this is the dining room at Lawndale, in myriad reflections within a flint glass compote, ...
06/01/2016

Wide-angle lenses can be fun - this is the dining room at Lawndale, in myriad reflections within a flint glass compote, ca 1860, donated for use the house.

A glimpse into the attic rooms at Lawndale. These rooms are particularly interesting, in the sense that they were likely...
05/29/2016

A glimpse into the attic rooms at Lawndale. These rooms are particularly interesting, in the sense that they were likely not finished until after the house reached its final form ca 1890 and they were finished with wood removed from the house when the additions were made, or they were finished with materials reused from modified or demolished structures in the area. All of the paint surfaces in these rooms are original to at least the 1890s. The Williams family did retain a maid until at least the mid-late 1890s, and these rooms were where she lived.

In the far right margin of the photo you see some aluminum window frames against the wall. These were windows that replaced all of the original windows at Lawndale in the mid-twentieth century. All of Lawndale's windows are actually reproduction wooden two-over-two sash frames, based on an original sash that was reused as part of a greenhouse on the property.

Hiram Williams' study, located on the second floor, is one of the most beautiful rooms within Lawndale. All of the finis...
05/27/2016

Hiram Williams' study, located on the second floor, is one of the most beautiful rooms within Lawndale. All of the finishes in this room are original - the Merritt Island pine beadboard walls, and geometric ceiling glow in the afternoon sunlight. It is a very special room.

Address

1219 Rockledge Drive
Rockledge, FL
32955

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Comments

Thank you to Carole P for sharing this beautiful home and the history. I look forward to spending time there and volunteering in the future. What an amazing project with a commanding presence on the Indian River.