Spring Promenade showcases the Duck Pond neighborhood

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 11:49 p.m.
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University of Florida Law Professor Barbara Bennett Woodhouse poses in the kitchen of her home in the Duck Pond's Tigert House. The dining room of the Woodhouse's home- top picture, bottom right- showcases the legacy of historic Gainesville. The bottom right picture shows the exterior of the Woodhouse.

DOUG FINGER & AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun


Spring Promenade

  • What: Spring Promenade Duck Pond Home Tour, a self-guided walking tour through four homes in the Northeast Historic District.
  • When: Reception 6-7 p.m. March 9 at the Thomas Center, followed by candlelight tour of homes 7-9 p.m.; Thomas Center tour, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 10; tour of homes, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Where: Tour begins at the Thomas Center. Transportation to tour homes is free.
  • Tickets: $10 per person available at the Thomas Center

For more than 35 years, Jane Myers has called the Duck Pond neighborhood home and has witnessed the area develop its character.
But there was a time when the neighbor- hood was in danger of losing its main focal point.
"The City of Gainesville wanted to put a bridge over the duck pond and redo the Boulevard with walking trails," said Myers.
It took a contingent of concerned residents to document the area's heritage and in 1975 Historic Gainesville Inc. hosted the first tour of homes in the Duck Pond neighborhood. Their efforts culminated in the Northeast Gainesville Residential District being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Today, the Spring Promenade is a self-guided walking tour that features a menagerie of architectural styles. Through the tour, visitors get a chance to discover part of Gainesville's history, and how the Duck Pond neighborhood regained much of its original charm after falling into disrepair.
"My main goal is to reflect the diversity of structures in the area by showcasing an eclectic group in age, style and character," said Spring Promenade chairperson Jan Scott.
The gardens and galleries of the Thomas Center will serve as a backdrop for a reception on March 9 followed by a candlelight tour of the homes. Afternoon tours are also available on March 10 and all proceeds benefit Thomas Center garden improvements.
Among the homes on the tour is the Tigert House, named for John J. Tigert, third president of the University of Florida. The house is located in the northwest section of the Duck Pond and overlooks the meandering Sweetwater Branch Creek. Current owners Barbara and Charles Woodhouse have filled the home with antiques and artifacts from the world over.
Completed in 1929 by M.M. Parish Sr. as a home for his family, the house was built in the Colonia Revival style as a smaller version of Mt. Vernon. The 17-room home's exterior features a covered brick piazza and four massive columns. A rear carriage house has been converted to an office and the gardens include original boxwood hedges. A 70-foot live oak towers from the backyard.
The Woodhouses refinished the original floors and painted the home using the original Mt. Vernon colors of Prussian blue, old parchment yellow and Mt. Vernon green for the window shutters.
Having restored homes in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Woodhouses' were determined to remain true to the original design of the home.
"That's the thing about old houses," said Barbara Woodhouse. "You've got to take care of those details."
Among its features are the home's front staircase, the design of which was copied from one in Mt. Vernon; speaking tubes that connect from the master bedroom to the kitchen; original glass chandeliers and pine- and oak-plank flooring throughout the house.
The Woodhouses installed a claw-footed, cast-iron stove reminiscent of the 1920s and added many kitchen items they rescued from antique shops. Opposite the stove is a genuine 1928 Hoosier cabinet in its original green-apple color. Barbara Woodhouse, who is associate dean and the David H. Levin Chair in Family Law at the University of Florida's Leving College of Law, said she has taken great pains to recreate the cabinet as she remembers if from her grandmother's kitchen.
Also on the tour is the Stock House built in 1940 for Otto and Mayme Stock. This Georgian-style home features a semi-circular front portico with four columns. When the garage was converted into a study, a portion of glass floor was installed allowing a view of the basement wine cellar. The backyard wall is made of salvaged original Gainesville paving bricks and owner Gar Hoflund has decorated the home with period furnishings and artwork.
The Kennedy House, built in 1903, is a Bungalow-style home and the oldest house on the tour. Named for original owner Cornelia Kennedy, the house features multiple gables, and several multi-paned stained-glass windows. Owners Brandy Kershner and Christina Carlton said they are excited to share their home with tour goers.
The Anderson Cottage was built in 1940 for Myrtle and Montgomery Anderson in the Monterey Colonial style. The family lived in the home for nearly 60 years before it was purchased by current owners Susan and Thomas Stewart who have painstakingly restored the first floor to recreate the home's original charm.
Scott, who also lives in the Duck Pond neighborhood, said homeowners there are proud to have had their homes selected for the Spring Promenade. They particularly like the chance to share their experiences and tips about renovations, she said.
"As a resident of a historic home in the Duck Pond since 1975, I have personally lived the experience of preservation and restoration and it has been inspiring," said Scott.
For Jane Myers, living in the Duck Pond neighborhood has always been more of a state of mind.
"There's just something here that says home," said Myers. "Our little piece of heaven."

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