Burroughs Home and Gardens
Now a house museum and event venue called Burroughs Home and Gardens, the Murphy-Burroughs House is one of the oldest homes in the city and among the few remaining from the early 20th century. It was built in 1901 by wealthy cattleman John T. Murphy, who first arrived in Fort Myers in the winter of 1899 from Montana. The third owners were Nelson and Adeline Burroughs, who bought the home in 1918. Murphy, and especially the Burroughs, were prominent figures in Fort Myers in the early 20th century. The 2.5 story-house is also historically significant as an excellent example of Georgian Revival architecture. The exterior features a veranda that wraps around on three sides, a large "dancing" porch on the east side, bay and stained glass windows, a widow's walk on the roof, and decorative woodwork. The inside of the house features 11-foot high ceilings, decorative woodwork, a grand winding staircase, and fireplaces. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Visitors can take guided tours of the house. An organization called the Uncommon Friends Foundation manages the house as well as the Burroughs family records
Backstory and Context
As stated above, John T. Murphy first came to Fort Myers in the winter of 1899. He was there to look for potential business opportunities and liked the area so much that he decide to stay for the rest of the winter. Construction of the house began in 1900 and was finished the next year. Murphy was not the first wealthy person to build homes in Fort Myers. In the 1880s and 1890s other wealthy individuals from out of state built large homes here, most notably the scientist and inventor Thomas Edison (he also built a laboratory). However, Fort Myers was still a rather rugged place during those years. But after Murphy built his home, others did as well. This helped transition the city from a frontier town to a more established community. Murphy's house was the first of what would become known as "millionaires row."
Murphy was also involved in local civic and business affairs. He was a major shareholder of a bank and, along with his friend and neighbor, built a seawall that protected the downtown area (they had already built a wall that protected their homes and realized how beneficial another one could be for the city).
Murphy died in 1914 and the house was bought by a businessman from New Jersey. In 1918, he sold it to the Nelson and Adeline Burroughs and it would remain in the family until 1978 when the city acquired it. The Burroughs, who were from Chicago, lived here during the winter with their two sons, Roy and Raynor, and two daughters, Mona and Jettie. Nelson earned his fortune in stock raising, land investment, and banking. In Fort Myers, he earned a reputation for being a good businessman. He and Adeline also became known for hosting grand parties for their wealthy friends, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh. Sadly, their sons died at a young age but their daughters remained active in Fort Myers throughout their lives. Mona died in 1978 and willed the house to the city.
"About Us." Burroughs Home and Gardens. Accessed May 12, 2020. https://burroughshome.com/about.
Henry, William R. "Murphy-Burroughs House." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/8ec54790-cf47-4508-a08f-2c03fcc6455b.
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Murphy-Burroughs_House
Burroughs Home and Gardens