Deep in the heart of Florida sits a Neo-Classical mansion known as the Money Pit. The enormous home was built by a Georgia native, who made his fortune owning naval stores and lumber. His business empire controlled much of the turpentine harvest at the turn of the 20th century when citrus, turpentine, and lumber were Central Florida’s primary industries.
The house was completed in 1911 at a cost of $25,000. It took three years to build and is considered one of the most ornate mansions in the area. At 11,000 square feet, the enormous mansion had plenty of room for the owner’s wife and their seven kids.
In 1924, the naval store owner and his family traded homes with the vice president of a local bank. The house sold in the 1940s and was converted into a funeral parlor. It remained a funeral home for almost 20 years before being converted into a meeting hall. Soon after it was sold and renovated into apartments. In 1990, the property fell into foreclosure. The property was listed for sale for $129,000. Without a buyer, the bank asked the city for a demolition permit.
In 1992, the house was saved from impending demolition after a couple offered the bank $90,000. The house suffered from extensive termite damage and would require $225,000 or more in renovations. The new owners estimated the restoration to take five years and created a nonprofit organization to help restore the house. The goal was to return the house to its original charm and allow opening it to the public as a museum or wedding venue. Unfortunately, the new owner fell ill and asked the city to take over the restoration effort. The city felt the project was better suited for an established nonprofit organization. A few years later, in 1995, a nonprofit was established. A board was able to apply for and awarded several state grants which allowed repairs to continue.
Over time the board diminished, and in 2005 a new board was created. This board was awarded several state grants, but because of the recession in 2008, no funds were allocated by the state that year, or for the following three years. Now, almost twenty-five years since the restoration began, the house remained unfinished. The nonprofit organization is actively seeking funds but has not been successful so far.
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