Freeport resident restoring historic home

May 27, 2017

A historic home in Freeport will soon be brought back to life after many years of neglect.

Local resident, and new owner of the home, Kevin Bloom has big plans for the Queen Anne style home built in the late 1800s. Bloom drove by the deteriorating home located on North Street many times over the years, never giving it a second look. That is, until one day he spotted it up for auction online. He called his realtor and was able to take a quick look at the house just before it went to bidding, and made an offer after viewing what appeared to be a structurally sound building.

“A pig in the poke,” Bloom said.

Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Ina Mae Garrett recalls living in the historic Freeport home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Bloom bought the home without any encouragement from friends. It had 29 broken windows and needed a new roof immediately to prevent any further deterioration. With those tasks done, Bloom is replacing floorboards on the porches and will be gradually working on restoring the building to as close to its original condition as possible.

The home was built by Finley McCaskill, a local merchant and father of R.E.L. McCaskill. R.E.L. later occupied the house when he established a lumber mill operation. He purchased the house from L.S. Flourney in 1901 according to Florida Preservation Services ‘Choctawhatchee Bay Survey,’ publication. According to a Bayou Times 1975 newspaper article, the home was built by Alex McCaskill.

The home was fitted out as a hotel that opened in 1915. Marion and Pearlie Brown purchased the house in 1924. Marion was a tugboat captain between Freeport, Point Washington, Fort Walton, and Pensacola. Both Marion and Pearlie worked together hauling rosin from the turpentine mills via the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Ina Mae Garrett shares photo of historic home in its glory days. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

One of Marion and Pearlie’s daughters, Ina Mae (Brown) Garrett recalls living in the old home. Now 94, and still living in Freeport, Ina moved into the house with her parents and siblings when she was four-years-old.

“My father had a sailboat and a launch boat. One day he came home from Pensacola with used furniture for the home. Mother wasn’t happy about that,” Ina recalled.

Ina said her mother was determined to get new furniture as soon as they had the money.

The stately home is located on 2.1 acres across from Murphy Oil near the Four Mile Creek boat ramp. It boasts an out building as well, previously used as a schoolhouse and doctor’s office in the once busy commerce area.

Upstairs balcony view. Many years ago, this view would of been a busy mercantile waterfront. Lori Ceier/ Walton Outdoors

When Bloom acquired ownership of the home all the furniture and most fixtures were long gone. He did manage to find the original claw foot tub and has been able to purchase. Much of the interior’s architectural complements are still intact.

Some folks say there is a ghost that resides at the home, Sally Mathis, an elderly woman who watches over the residence and its occupants. No one knows who she is, but perhaps Sally has been keeping a watchful eye on this grand home all along.

Owner Kevin Bloom stands on his front porch May 2017. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Update: This story was originally published in July 2014. Since then, owner Kevin Bloom has been busy working on restoration of the home. As of the end of May 2017, Bloom has finished rebuilding three porches, banisters, tongue and groove floorboards on the porches, put on a new roof, repaired 29 broken window panes, rewired, installed HVAC upstairs, painted much of the interior walls, removed popcorn ceilings, and finished three of the five upstairs bedrooms.

“It’s live able and comfortable. Friends who said I was nuts, think the house is pretty cool now,” Said Bloom.

Dining room with original sideboard owned by Marion and Perlie Brown is now back in the home. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Bloom was also gifted with a piece of original furniture from Pearlie Brown’s grandson, Mike Brown. A dining room sideboard with a history of its own.

“It was brought back by Marion Brown from Pensacola when he made the trip by boat and brought furniture back.  I don’t remember a time it wasn’t in the house. When Granny died it was willed to my Aunt Gladys, who gave it to me. They got the furniture in the early 1900’s and it was already old then,” said Brown.