Monday, July 12, 2010

Pearl House

Drove over to Eustis for lunch today, to my cousin’s house, about an hour west of the beach. Cindy and her husband Jack (and family) have lived there for something like thirty-two years, in a beautiful house on a lake, one built in 1955. There is a long list of wonderful qualities that makes it an exceptional home, and one of those is the neighboring house, which Jack and Cindy bought in 2006 and use as a guesthouse for visiting family and friends. Originally it was the home of a woman named Pearl Wiglesworth, a dear friend who passed away in 2006. Because of the love they had for her, they have always referred to the house as Pearl House. After the death of Mrs Wiglesworth, Jack bought the house and the adjoining orange grove as an anniversary present for Cindy. (We left there today with three overflowing bags of just picked oranges.)

Pearl House was built in 1970, and still now has a solid structure. Testimony to the care it has been given over the years, the house shows little wear today, forty years later. In renovating the house, the largest expense Jack and Cindy faced was in re-painting the exterior and interior. Next, they put in new floors and replaced the counters in the large and spacious kitchen, choosing matte black counter tops to enhance the varnished maple cabinets. As do many rooms in the house, the kitchen dining nook looks out onto the lake and moss draped oak trees in back. The bathrooms (two upstairs and one downstairs) have the original tile, which they left untouched for its particular beauty.

You must not imagine a community of closely grouped houses around a lake. The property is sprawling and spacious, and more than anything else, crowded with huge old oak trees dripping moss. Both the main house and guesthouse are on a rise that slopes down to the water’s edge. The setting of Pearl House is no doubt a major factor in its great appeal, but it is impossible to underestimate the personal touch and love that Jack and Cindy have stamped upon the house. And to be honest, a few years back I relied upon Cindy’s eye for color and design in planning my own home’s interior here at the beach.

Their friend and neighbor, Pearl, before her retirement was a highly trained nurse, having studied at the Medical College of Georgia, with post graduate work at NYU and Peabody at Vanderbilt University. In talking to Jack about the house this afternoon, he told an interesting story. After the death of Pearl’s husband, and some years before her own death in 2006, Pearl’s sister came to live in Pearl House. At the time she was long retired, but for years her job had been in government, though it wasn't just any old government job. Of all things, she had the distinction of serving for years as private secretary to J Edgar Hoover, first Director of the FBI from 1935 until his death in 1972. Jack told me she remained until her death tight-lipped about her infamous boss. Imagine the stories she could have told.

As for the attached photos, the top one shows a front view of Pearl House; the second is a view looking up at the back of the house from the lake’s southeast shore. The bottom photograph is a view of the lake seen from the elevated screened-in porch at the back.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America