Constructed as a cutting-edge showpiece mansion in its era, Melbourne's aged Green Gables estate has slowly structurally deteriorated over the generations — within the looming shadow of a wrecking ball. Volunteers have spent the past dozen years fundraising and trying to strike a deal to buy the six-bedroom, 1896-vintage American Four Square/Queen Anne house — which features a distinctive octagonal porch — to refurbish as a public asset. Finally, their historic-home quest has proven successful. A $482,500 Florida Division of Historical Resources matching grant to help buy Green Gables has been approved in the state budget, said Nicole Hu, historic preservation grants specialist. Marion Ambrose, president of the preservation-minded nonprofit Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village Inc., described her reaction as “stunned.” “I believed we would get it. I was sure we could get it. After all this time, to actually have it happen was pretty mind-numbing. But I'm very excited," Ambrose said. “Because we have so many plans that we've had to hold off on, because we didn't own the property,” she said. Green Gables remains owned by descendants of the wealthy Melbourne pioneer William T. Wells, a prominent metallurgical engineer who died in 1930. Purchase price is $965,000. Ambrose said her nonprofit fundraised and secured in-kind donations to cover the other half of that sum, and the group secured the Division of Historical Resources grant on its second application attempt. Next, a state grant officer will help the nonprofit navigate the transaction. In its May 2021 application for the $482,500 state matching grant, Green Gables officials outlined the pressing need to purchase and save the structure. "Melbourne needs Green Gables and its grounds because virtually every other significant element of the early built environment has been obliterated in the development associated with the Space Age," the application said. "If the property is not acquired soon, Melbourne will lose all ties to the culture of its early development. The Green Gables house and grounds are in immediate danger of being sold for development," the application said. "The property is located on prime commercial real estate fronting on both U. S. 1 and the Indian River. It is still owned by descendants of the original owners who are retired and anxious to sell. While they have been very patient so far, the recent deaths of two of the owners puts great pressure on the remaining family to realize the capital locked in the property," the application said. "They will not have any trouble finding a commercial buyer who will pay more than the price they have offered to our Green Gables nonprofit for its preservation," the application said. The Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village website at greengables.org still prominently displayed an ongoing second-by-second countdown Monday, ticking down the last 24 days to buy the property before a July 1 purchase deadline. Built on the Indian River Lagoon bluff at what is now 1501 S. Harbor City Blvd., the 1.15-acre riverfront property is one of fewer than 25 surviving structures in Melbourne that date to the 1800s. It is rumored that the home was originally wired for electricity at construction — years before electrical service was available in Melbourne, according to a report prepared by Littlejohn Engineering Associates, the city's historic preservation consultant. The house may have been initially powered by a generator and an artesian well. Melbourne did not get electricity until 1913, local historian Weona Cleveland wrote in a 2000 FLORIDA TODAY column detailing the home. Green Gables also had indoor plumbing and, reportedly, the first bathtub in Melbourne, she noted. Wells generated a fortune from his 1888 patent for producing “rustless metal.” He maintained a beachside pineapple plantation; built an auditorium and library in Melbourne; and helped establish the high school, the Littlejohn report said. He donated 30 acres to create Wells Park, which is named in his honor. A timeline of events in the Green Gables preservation saga: 2004: Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne pummel the property, and it has remained uninhabited since. 2010: The nonprofit Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village debuts. 2014: Melbourne officials issue a demolition permit so the owners could raze the house — surprising many in the community. 2016: Green Gables is added to the National Register of Historic Places. 2018: The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation includes Green Gables in its list of "Florida’s 11 to Save" — the most threatened historic properties in the state. Ambrose said her nonprofit can now proceed with its 10-year building restoration plan. She said another fundraising campaign will begin with a $1 million target sum. The initial goal: Stabilize the home’s foundation, which has sunk a few inches near the octagonal porch. She said volunteers will also partner with the Marine Resources Council to plant mangroves and install oyster beds along the lagoon shoreline. The grounds of the historic Melbourne estate already host an array of public fundraisers, ranging from house tours and Fourth of July fireworks viewing to art festivals and Halloween-season ghost walks. Ambrose envisions increasing this community programming. “We have a 10-year restoration plan. And we've got amazing people working on it. So we're ready to move the minute they say go," Ambrose said.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey Speaks at Green Gables Historic Marker Dedication, on US National Register of Historic Places!
Green Gables received a reprieve from facing the wrecking ball when $500,000 was raised to apply for a matching grant from the state of Florida to save the historic Melbourne residence. The next chapter will be written by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, which will review the grant.
Humanitarian John Daly is a Renaissance Volunteer, Assists Brevard in Several Ways
On Saturday, June 6, 2020 the public gathered at Green Gables to celebrate the non-profit meeting their fundraising goal. This enabled the group to apply for the State grant on June 1st that will lead to the purchase of the property.
On Tuesday, wonderful representatives from the Brevard Heritage Council presented Green Gables a check for $1,000! Thank you Brevard Heritage Council and Spectrum News 13!
Read this article to find out why Marion Ambrose, President of Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village, fights to preserve this Historic treasure.
BREVARD COUNTY — The clock is ticking for one historic home as members of the Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village Inc. work to raise $285,000 by April 15 to save a vital part of Melbourne’s history.
Looking for something to do in Melbourne, Florida? The Documentary about Green Gables, "Forgotten Enchantress", will be shown at Intracoastal Brewery on Feb. 20th at 6:00pm. Also stop by and visit Green Gables open Saturdays 10 - 2.
When Channel 6 News in Orlando learned that the historic house, known as Green Gables, was in danger of being demolished,
Carolina Cardona, a Reporter, came to Green Gables to film a plea for help. Please watch the video that was aired on December 23, 2019.
To help bring more awareness to this historic home and to raise funds, nonprofit organization bUneke has gathered a professional film crew from Orlando to create a very professional documentary.
Filming took place over four days in early December, and will be released in early January.
bUneke, a non profit organization, supports other non profit organizations by featuring them in many ways. They strongly believe in the vision of Green Gables. You can read their article beginning on page 10 in their bUneke Magazine.
Christina LaFortune, from Florida Today, published a featured article on Jan. 7, 2020. The article tells the story of Green Gables through pictures and video.
MELBOURNE, Fl. - by Krystel Knowles - December 15, 2019 - A historic home in Melbourne, saved from being torn down about ten years ago, is facing an uncertain future once again.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals, provide funds for the constant upkeep, restoration and preservation of Green Gables for future generations.
Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village, Inc., is a tax-exempt organization (Tax ID#27-4206685) duly qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Solicitation of Contributions Act Registration. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the division of consumer services by calling toll-free within the State. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the State. 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352. www.FloridaConsumerHelp.com
Copyright © 2022 Green Gables - All Rights Reserve
By accepting, data from this visit will be added to other user data to analyze website traffic and optimize your website experience. Thank you for visiting!