By Val Schoger, Photography by Harold Bramton and Val Schoger
A two-story Queen Anne Style home built in 1909 overlooks the dunes and white sands of Inlet Beach in Northwest Florida. Local historians will raise an eyebrow reading this sentence. Clearly, Northwest Florida’s settlers and early residents built their houses far away from the beaches. The home in Inlet Beach with its decorative corbels, wrap-around porches, tall chimney, and old-world charm, in fact, is a transplant – its beach location the result of an 82-mile haul via trucks and trailers.
Atlanta residents Anna Hamer and husband Dr. Daniel Jaul call their 108-year old house their home away from home. Purchased in 2003, they picked up where the previous owners left off and restored the home to new glory, learning its history along the way. “We did a lot of research and found that Adam McNealy Lewis (b. 1880) built the house in 1909 for his wife Rosalind Hayes on Greenwood Street in Marianna, Florida. It changed hands several times after Rosalind died in 1949. It was moved to Inlet Beach in 1999. The move made the newspaper, as it had to be transported right through Panama City. It came on three large trucks. The upstairs, downstairs, and porch were moved separately, then reattached.”
More than a decade later, the amount of work reveals itself in the details. There is not one wall and not one piece of furniture that does not have its own story and history.
“When we interviewed our contractor, we just told him this will be different than a new build,” Dan and Anna remember. “We explained that the work might change depending on what we find. The carpenter was a master craftsman and knew his work. I even learned how many pieces it takes to make a window.” Anna points to the “egg and dart” molding around the windows and notes that some of the new window trim was custom fabricated to look just like the original.
The long list of restorations and improvements includes the complete replacement of the siding, the removal of inside walls, the widening of the porch, and the addition of the upstairs porch. Anna clarifies that, “When it is a veranda it means that the porch is on more than one side of the house. If it’s just a front porch, you can’t call it a veranda.”
Items such as the cast iron fireplace covers, the dentil crown molding, the shiny oak flooring, and countless other details that make the house unique, are original and restored.
During the moving of the house, the five chimneys had to be collapsed and only one of the large fireplaces in the living room was rebuilt to a working fireplace. The remaining bricks served as building material for the entrance’s front steps that lead onto the original veranda. Fragrant white blossoming Jasmine grows along the railing and invites to take a deep breath.
The bright red front door opens to the foyer and reveals wide stairs that lead to the second story. French doors open to the front parlor, dining room, kitchen, and adjacent living room. Subtle colors in each living space set the mood. The walls downstairs are painted in shades of green, inspired by the trees and nature. Upstairs, the blue tones remind of the sky and the beautiful water views. Anna, an encaustic artist, has put her mark on the house. “As a painter, I worked on the colors. It took me about two weeks to finally pick them out. The light here is beautiful and, on different times of the day, the light plays with the colors. The colors have to work together. They have their own personality in each room.”
Modern artwork combines seamlessly with old-world furniture pieces that were carefully selected. “I found these antique Louis XIV balloon back chairs and Anna designed the room around these chairs,” Dan remarks. “Everything else picked it up. We shopped different antique stores all over the southeast for a year,” Anna recalls.
There is only one furniture piece that Anna presumes is original. “I really think the Kurtzmann piano was original to the house,” she speculates. “The piano was built between 1910 and 1914. It’s a player piano. The higher the backboard on a piano, the grander the sound. This one is almost as tall as I am.”
It took a vision and many years to restore the house, but the results are beautiful. “When we toured the house for the first time, we loved the hardwood floors. That’s what we noticed first. We also loved the beautiful French doors, and all the mantles,” says Anna. Dan explains that they own a Victorian home in Atlanta, “It must appeal to us,” he adds with a large smile.
When their busy schedules do not allow them to spend time at “Anna’s Veranda,” Anna and Dan make the house available to visitors and renters. Not a surprise, brides-to-be find the house very attractive. With its proximity and easy access to the beach, the sparkling pool, four bedrooms, and large downstairs living areas, it is an ideal venue for weddings.
Learn more about the history of Anna’s Veranda by visiting www.AnnasVeranda.com
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