By Michelle Cannon Epting
Our homes act as havens from the world, sources of memories, and extensions of ourselves. Whether characterized by unusual architecture or a classic style, a connection to nature or a correlation to history, a home can speak to its owners’ style and taste. Often, there is a certain room or space within a house that holds special meaning to those that call it home.
Riverfront Retreat – Bob and Susie Johnson
The Eau Gallie area of Melbourne was named for the French term for “rocky water,” a reference to the coquina rock found along the shore of the Indian River. The river was key to the survival of the early community, as it provided fishing, commerce and communication. Captain Aaron Bennett established a boat yard and basin during 1885-1889 that later became known as the Eau Gallie Yacht Basin. Because the basin was deemed the best safe deep-water harbor along Florida’s East Coast, Eau Gallie (and eventually Melbourne) earned the nickname of The Harbor City.
Sitting on the Indian River in the heart of Eau Gallie is the home of Bob and Susie Johnson. The home is a well-known landmark of the area, and the Neo-classical two-story brick structure, with white columns and half-moon accented hurricane shutters, was recently one of a handful of homes featured on the Historical Home Tour during Eau Gallie’s Founders Day Celebration. It has also been the subject of many local artists’ work in various media. In fact, Bob and Susie own and display a watercolor and oil painting of the home within the home.
Built as a winter home by Bob’s great-grandparents, Fannie and William Horn, in 1932, the home later became the full-time home of his grandparents, Fannie and Bill Langstroth. Bob and Susie purchased the home from his grandparents in 1993, thus keeping the home as a part of the family and their history, as much as it is a part of the community and its history.
The porch, with its amazing view and striking columns, reminds Susie of Bob’s grandparents, who used to sit with them on the porch before they passed away.
“We loved them so much. They were just neat people to know and very spunky. They were very special,” recalls Susie Johnson.
The Johnsons have spent many other memorable moments on the front porch. People-watching is a favorite pastime, especially during the Fourth of July boating celebrations on the river. Susie also describes relaxing in the Adirondack chairs during summer nights. Some memories include experiencing the magic of watching the night-blooming cacti in the yard by the porch, as the flowers blossom in June.
The Johnsons’ front porch encompasses historical importance, natural loveliness and personal significance.
Tearoom of Treasured Moments – Rochelle Goolsby
According to legend, the practice of taking an afternoon tea originated amongst the upper echelons of British society during the nineteenth century. Perhaps one of the most beloved literary references to afternoon tea is found in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Alice meets the Hatter and the March Hare, who are doomed to a constant tea party after angering the Queen of Hearts.
Rochelle Goolsby, a professional life coach in Brevard County, created her own tearoom in her home. Rochelle’s love of teapots and teacups, as well as her passion for travel, are united in this room, as it is decorated with dishes from all over the world. However, the room is not used for the traditional afternoon tea. Instead Rochelle and her family use the tearoom as a reading room, a relaxing space, and a place for family conferences and gatherings.
The mother of two sons and three daughters, Rochelle explains that the room was a safe and quiet place for the children to bring any major issues while they were younger. Here they could receive the undivided attention of their parents. The girls hosted youthful teas for their friends. Today, a third generation enjoys the room, as Rochelle’s granddaughter plays with her dolls and reads in the tearoom when she visits. One of her sons and his family open presents in the room on Christmas Eve, which is also his birthday. At least once a month, there is a family gathering or celebration in the tearoom.
Asked what the room represents to the family, Rochelle summarizes the tearoom’s meaning:
“It’s comforting and peaceful. It is a place of sanctuary in our household.”
Rochelle keeps all of her favorite pictures and things in her tearoom. For example, a Mary Poppins doll from a trip to New York and gifts from family and friends. The majority of Rochelle’s teacups and teapots were given to her, including antique treasures from her grandmother. All of these pieces hold special meaning. One of them references Lewis Carroll’s classic. Last year, during a surprise “Unbirthday” Tea Party thrown for her, Rochelle received an Alice in Wonderland teapot, which is now on display.
Oceanfront Oasis – Marc and Mary Josselson
In 1994 architect Joseph A. Panarello began his career by designing and building what he entitled the Crescent Beach House. The home is designed to inspire and comfort its inhabitants, while connecting them to nature. A work of art, the unconventional design creates more than a structure; it creates a spiritual and esoteric experience.
In 1997 Marc and Mary Josselson purchased the beachfront home and fulfilled a dream of living on the ocean. Marc grew up in Southern California enjoying the beach and, at the age of 30, began catamaraning. Owning the home means that, just steps away from his back door, his own catamaran rests on the beach and, anytime the weather affords, he can go for a sail.
The house is built of concrete, stainless steel, granite, and glass. Its central layout is open, with the main area including a unified living/family/dining room. Curved walls and unusual angles unify the home, creating a sense of flow. The kitchen features a curved wall of glass block and rounded cabinetry. The master bedroom showcases a custom round bed built to accommodate the uncommon angles.
While the interior spaces of the home are breathtaking, it is the outdoor space that brings the most pleasure to the Josselsons. The back patio, which looks out upon the Atlantic, showcases several man-made and natural elements. The home was designed with glass along the backside to make the outdoors part of the indoors and vice versa.
Once outdoors, the massive 20 foot wall of sea grapes afford the backyard privacy. “It’s amazing to see their growth as time has passed,” Marc states, “from four feet to more than twenty feet.” Amongst the sea grapes, Mary created a special space for reading and relaxation. There is a hammock with string lights up for the evenings, as well as two repurposed telephone pole stumps used as natural tabletops.
The Josselsons have enjoyed many special moments in their backyard haven. Like the house, it is simple, beautiful, unique, and natural. These spaces offer visual appeal, respite, fond memories, and peace to the homeowners. Ultimately, each represents the essence of what home truly is.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” This amazing home and its breathtaking natural environment have never failed the Josselsons.