Green Gables moves closer to avoiding wrecking ball


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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.

Green Gables is one old lady with a lot of good friends. Sitting on 1.49 acres of prime real estate by the Indian River in Melbourne, the 1896 Queen Anne style residence was squarely facing the wrecking ball before a group of fans came to her rescue. 

They raised the $500,000 needed to help her on the next step toward a new life as an educational and special events venue.

“We have succeeded in applying for the grant that, if  granted, will enable us to save the most important and historically significant property in Melbourne,” said Marion Ambrose, the president of the nonprofit Green Gables at Riverview Village.

The next chapter in Green Gables’ story will be written by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, which will review the grant that requests matching the existing funds. Should the group get its blessing to the request, it will then be subject to approval by the governor and the Florida Legislature.

“If Green Gables application is funded fully, we will be able to close on purchasing the property,” said Sue Fallon, the vice president of the 20 volunteers who came to Green Gables’ rescue. 

Originally known as the Wells House, Green Gables was built just eight years after the City of Melbourne was incorporated. Nora and William Wells would have appreciated the efforts to save their beloved home. They, too, were generous to the community and influential in the creation of, among other projects, Melbourne’s first school, Melbourne Auditorium, the  public library, Wells Park and many roadways in the fledgling city.

Current descendants of the Wells have done their part to help save the house, giving a $260,000 in-kind donation that will come off the $965,000 asking price for the property.

Even if all the stars align for Green Gables, volunteers will still have plenty of fundraising to do.

“All through this process, we will need to fundraise for property taxes, insurance, termite bond and the future stabilization and restoration of Green Gables, and then begin submitting for additional grants and donations from foundations,”  Fallon explained.

The old lady is well worth the effort. Even in her currently faded state, Green Gables serves as teacher of times past to school and scout groups, as well as to adults. 

“There is so much area history in this home that it needs to be preserved for present and future generations to see how it all started and what is possible when citizens get involved,”  Fallon said.

To help Green Gables, go to greengables.org. The house, at 1501 S. Harbor City Blvd., is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday.