Also known as the Moulton-Wells House, this site is located at the Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna Beach. The Eldora State House is the last remaining home from the Eldora community that was established in 1876. But, after the 1890s most people left the community because of the Great Freezes.
The Eldora State House is also known as The Moulton-Wells House which is now a part of The Canaveral National Seashore since 1975 (Canaveral National Seashore). The house is just off of Mosquito Lagoon in New Smyrna Beach. The Eldora house was a regular house at the time, in the town of Eldora. The Eldora town was named after Ellen and Dora Pitzer who were the daughters of George Pitzer who was a landholder of the area. The population at the time was around 200 and it’s said that many of the early settlers after the Native Americans, were treasure hunters because they thought there was gold left behind from the Native Americans. The settlers also ranged from carpenters, fishermen, beekeepers, and along with farmers (Canaveral National Seashore). Eldora eventually was used as a winter getaway in the 1900’s until about the 1930’s. Before it became a winter resort, it was mainly used as farming land for citrus, but business became slow when new railroads became available by the mainland and the relocation of the Intracoastal Waterway happened so, people eventually left the town. During this time when the railroads were being built in Florida, it did not help farmers since they had to compete with merchants from different areas which also declined the population even more because farmers needed new places to sell their products.
Another big factor for farmers leaving the town of Eldora was there was something called “The Great Freeze” in 1894-1895. It's said that the temperatures ranged from 18-27 degrees during those years (Florida Memory). The citrus turned black and the crops couldn’t handle the cold weather, so they froze the limbs started snapping off and the fruit was no longer good since it was black and falling on the ground. It was said that Florida citrus farmers produced around five million boxes of citrus per year and they didn’t get back to this for almost 20 years (Florida Memory). Six weeks after the first freeze, another cold front came through the state, and the trees that survived the first freeze unfortunately froze solid in this second freeze. Some say it sounded like gunshots hearing the whole trees split from trunk to root (Florida History). After these freezes many farmers couldn’t pay their mortgages so many abandoned their homes and the land the citrus was grew on became non-valuable. Before the freezes, Florida was producing around five million boxes of fruit per year, but after it dropped to around 100,000 boxes (Florida History).
The Eldora House is significant to many people because it’s a part of a town that is no longer there, it’s a part of history that is basically gone. Only a few houses are still left today that aren’t open to the public. The house was used for so many different reasons back in the day and the house is now a museum that you can go to and learn about all the different things that used to happen at the house or Mosquito Lagoon like; Coast-Guard life-saving stations, the life of house servants there, how steam boats used to go through the Lagoon and stop in the town, the fishing industry, and the major restoration the house went through starting in 1989 before it became the museum it is today. The museum also has some artifacts like bottles they’ve found around the area and it has old pictures of the original house before it was restored as well.
Before Eldora was a major town, it was home to Native Americans and people who were just living off of the land there. The Native Americans left behind mounds which some are still there like by the Eldora State House, but many are now under water. Most of the mounds were destroyed unfortunately and were eventually used for making roads and building houses and such. New Smyrna Beach was eventually established in 1768 by Dr. Andrew Turnbull, the colony at the time had 1,225 immigrants. They were growing commercial crops on the coastal plantations like rice, corn, cotton, and many other things.
Canaveral. National Seashore Florida. . Accessed September 27, 2018. https://visitnsbfl.com/explore/arts-and-culture/eldora-house-at-canaveral-national-seashore.
Restoration of Eldora House. Local Legacies. . Accessed September 27, 2018. http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/legacies/loc.afc.afc-legacies.200002855/default.html.
History of New Smyrna Beach. . Accessed September 27, 2018. https://www.cityofnsb.com/198/History.
Great Freeze (1894-1895). Florida Memory. December 18, 2012. Accessed September 27, 2018. https://www.floridamemory.com/blog/tag/great-freeze-1894-95/.
Peroldo, Robin. The Great Freezes and the collapse of the Florida citrus industry. Florida History. May 27, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://medium.com/florida-history/the-great-freezes-1894-95-and-the-collapse-of-the-florida-orange-industry-7442e5d75337.