by JULIE B. MAGLIO
Over the past year and a half the Queen Ann style house located at 302 South Brooksville Avenue has undergone an extensive restoration. The finish line is finally in sight and the light in home's tower shines brightly once again.It’s historically called the Frazee House circa 1909-1915 after the home’s early owners. Members of the Frazee family owned the home between 1913 and 2000. It appears on the National Register of Historic Places, listed under the South Brooksville Historic District as one of the historically significant homes.
The application for the South Brooksville Historic District prominently features the house saying, "The Frazee House, circa 1915, located at 302 South Brooksville Avenue, exhibits Queen Anne Style elements. The two-and-one-half story, weather boardsided residence has a gable front, steeply pitched, metal shingles roof, with decorative barge board along the roofline.
Two, stuccoed interior brick chimneys are located on the northwest and southsides of the residence. A three story tower, inset from the facade on the north side, has a pressed tin, four gabled roof with decorative bargeboard. A small porch area located in the front of the tower, has a shed roof and original wood planking, as well as decorative wooden porch supports. A larger screened-in porch on the southside of front facade has three, wooden, columns and a wooden, screened door. Fenestration along the first story includes five, original, one-over-one, double-hung sash windows. A decorative window box projecting one foot out from middle the facade encloses three of the one-over-one, double-hung sash windows. An original wooden door leads into the tower area. Second story fenestration includes four, original, one-over-one, double-hung sash windows and an original one-over-one, double hung sash window in tower area. The residence rests on a raised brick foundation."
Kala Johnston has had property in the area for about 17 years. She used to show dogs which led her to the AKC dog show held in Brooksville annually. She and her husband Gerald Johnson, a veterinarian, opened the Silverthorn Animal Hospital in 2011. They sold the clinic last year, but Gerald still works at the clinic.
“I had always wanted to open a bed and breakfast. I used to work, years and years ago, as a front desk manager at a luxury suites hotel. We’ve traveled quite a bit and have stayed in many bed and breakfasts- we just love the concept. I’ve always wanted to do it.”
Although, Kala admits, she’s not a morning person, so her brother Kenneth McCullick will be handling breakfast, among other duties.
After Kala and Gerald sold the clinic, they thought about flipping houses, but their realtor showed them this house.
“This is not a flip house,” said Kala.
Kala saw the home first and fell in love with it- although she knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
“I walked in and fell in love.” Then she thought, “This is not a good idea.”
“I brought my husband back later and I was really hoping he would say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”
“And he loved it too,” Kala recalled.
She explained that the flipping idea was out of the question upon deciding that they’d purchase and restore the home.
“We came in and it was a disaster. It was termite damaged,” Kala began. She described the room off the kitchen which was once the dining room, “The side roof had not been replaced when they replaced the main roof, it was a complete gut job.”
The entire floor had to be replaced, along with the ceiling and the deck.
“There was termite damage everywhere. The poor house was about ready to crumble.”
Kala and Gerald purchased the home from their neighbor across the street, Ann Weipz. Weipz had completed some foundation work and most of the home’s gutting, so when the couple purchased the home there weren’t many interior walls.
“It was bare beams, you could see the metal roof. You could see all the way to the upstairs portion of the house,” Kala described.
The walls were torn down upstairs as well. “It was a mess,” she added.
Repairs started from the ground-up with foundation work, then framework, all new plumbing and electric.
Kala said that the home would have been gone had the home’s earlier owners, the Mackenzies, not replaced the main roof in the early 2000s.
Kala and Gerald hired P.J. Roofing to replace the side roof. Paul John Wernicke, owner of P.J. Roofing, coincidentally worked on the roof for the Mackenzies in the early 2000s when he was just out of high school working for his father. Paul John was happy to be able to finish the job so many years later.
“There have been a lot of neat people working on the place,” said Kala appreciatively.
Kala said they hadn’t found any lost treasures during the course of the restoration, but there is a ‘happy spirit’ that remains in the house.
“She is really pleased… at the risk of sounding crazy,” she continued, “One of the construction workers smelled brownies baking and several people have smelled lemons.”
“I think she’s happy with what we’re doing here.”
But she recalled a point when the happy spirit expressed some discontent.
They needed to build a support beam for a pillar in the house and they built the beam to match the post on the stairway. To complete the job they needed a faux painter to match the finish. She explained that the gentleman was rude and grumpy, asking them why they wanted to do such a thing. Needless to say, she didn’t hire the painter.
Then Kala and her friend went upstairs to continue their work. Kala further recounted, “The next thing you know, the kitchen door slams shut. We look at each other and say ‘We’re here by ourselves, aren’t we?’”
“I don’t think she was very happy with that man,” concluded Kala.
She and her friend loudly assured the spirit, “He’s not coming back!”
“I feel like if you read the history of the house, it might be Alys Frazee Campbell. She lived here for many years and her daughter was born in the front room,” Kala surmised.
According to an early deed, the parents of Alys Frazee Campbell, Roland and Katie Frazee, bought the house in 1913 for $2,500 from M.A. Carpenter. M.A. had purchased the house from Mattie Raiford in 1909.
Mr. Frazee managed the Russell Street Train station for the Atlantic Coast Line. The distinctive tower built into the house is thought to have enabled Ronald Frazee to keep track of the trains. The house is located a little more than 1,200 feet from the train station, which did allow Mr. Frazee to go home for lunch. The oak trees have since grown large obstructing the view.
While visiting the home a couple weeks ago, finishing touches were underway with furniture scheduled to move in the next weekend. Kala and Gerald call their Bed and Breakfast, The Mirador Lodging House. “The word mirador literally means a turret or tower attached to a building providing an extensive view,” explained Kala.
The decor of the home has been meticulously planned by Kala. There are three guest rooms. The White Swan Room Master Suite is on the first floor, while situated on the second floor is the Peacock Room and the Black Swan Bridal Suite.
Kala has procured several hand carved mantles and elegant chandeliers for the guest rooms as well as other areas of the home. The largest chandelier hangs impressively in the tower.
A chandelier in the Black Swan Room bridal suite has drooping flowers a hummingbird may mistake for the real thing if it happens to dart in through an open window. It complements the shower tiles in the bridal suite’s bathroom, etched with a humming bird scene.
There is stained glass work throughout the home by Susan Healy, Touch of Glass by Susan, out of Floral City. The door to the porch in the White Swan room has a custom stained glass panel depicting the house and its tower. Healy’s skill is evident in the details of the piece as she even captures the red decorative boarding along the roofline of the home.
Kala says the double doors to the kitchen were once in the Jennings Building. Each door has an interesting cracked glass panel and the finish is visibly old and cracked.
In store for guests of The Mirador is elegance as well as comfort.
“Our concept is of course a nice breakfast. We’d like to make it a very individual kind of stay. Whatever the reason for their visit to Brooksville, we can accomodate what their needs are,” remarked Kala. She says they won’t be strict on when breakfast is served.
They expect to attract visitors who are in town for weddings, anniversaries, romantic getaways as well as attorneys who have business at the courthouse. It’s a short walk up Brooksville Avenue to Broad Street which places you across the street from the courthouse. With all the events planned downtown, the bed and breakfast is also a perfect spot for locals on a ‘staycation.’
“We are just so thrilled that the community will be able to enjoy this house again after it had been closed up and in disrepair for so many years, ” said Kala.
302 South Brooksville Ave.; Brooksville, FL 34601
Contact The Mirador : (352) 442-4046