BREVARD COUNTY — Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village has been building a name for itself over the year as the nonprofit has been raising funds to save itself from demolition.
Originally built in 1896 by William and Nora Wells, Green Gables is a gem among many of Brevard County’s historic sites. Volunteers are working to save it so it may serve as a Living History Museum and cultural center.
The nonprofit has until April 2020 to raise $285,000 in order to receive matching funds up to $500,000 to make the $1M purchase of the home. The nonprofit already has a pledge from the home’s owners – descendants of William and Nora Wells – of approximately $235,000.
To help bring more awareness to the historic home and to raise funds, nonprofit organization bUneke has gathered a professional film crew from Orlando to create a 15-minute documentary.
Filming took place over two days in early December, and officials hope to release the film in early 2020 with a premiere at Green Gables.
“We had not heard of Green Gables until we went on a radio show, and we needed to know more,” said Mary Brotherton, founder of bUneke. “Jennifer [bUneke’s creative director] came from Orlando just to tour the house, and she said, Mary, you need to come with me.”
“[Jennifer] showed up and just fell in love right on the lawn out there,” said Sue Fallon, public relations manager for Green Gables. “She had this feeling that it was meant to be and there was something here with the house that needed to be saved.”
From the majestic Indian River Lagoon to the centuries-old trees on the property of Green Gables, many people traveling along South Harbor City Boulevard don’t even realize this home is here, Mrs. Fallon said.
Just in one day of filming, Mrs. Brotherton said, the film crew was able to capture dolphins and flocks of birds as part of the video.
“When we found out what’s going to happen, because bUneke’s mission is to make tomorrow a better day, we wanted to see what we could do,” Mrs. Brotherton said. “We can’t imagine having this place bulldozed and the trees uprooted to what? To make room for another gas station? Or another parking lot or high rise or who knows what? That’s the destiny of this property if something doesn’t happen.”
William Wells was a wealthy man from New York who had created Wells Rustless Iron Company. His wife, Nora, was born to a wealthy family in New York, with a father who was a senator and an uncle who was governor of California.
The Wells started Melbourne’s first library and donated the land for the building. They also believed in education, and built a high school, also donating land and personally funding the teachers’ salaries.
Additionally, the Wells donated land to build the first Melbourne Theatre, donated land for Wells Park, and donated the property for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church to relocate to in 1897.
It’s also thanks to Mr. Wells for helping to build the roads in Melbourne and for bringing the Florida East Coast Railway to Melbourne, according to Green Gables' website.
Visiting students from elementary schools have had the opportunity to learn how to make soap and ice cream, as well as play old games.
Green Gables is currently open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. While a tour given by a costumed docent is free, a donation of $20 is suggested to help cover costs of property taxes, renovation projects and more.
For more information, visit www.greengables.org.