by Mary Dickinson
May 27, 2004
The Halifax River, an intracoastal waterway, flows through the town of Ormond Beach, FL. In the early 1900s, Henry Flagler, developer, built the three hundred-room Ormond Hotel along that river. It was fashionable, at that time, for the wealthy to go to Florida and spend their winter months in megasize resorts near the ocean.
Flagler's former business partner in Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller, was one of those early snow birds. He was attracted to the area because he liked watching sport car racing along the beach, not too far from the hotel. That wide beach, with its hard surface, was used as a racecourse before the now famous one was built in nearby Daytona.
Many fine homes were being built in that area, at that time, to accommodate the affluent. Rockefeller bought a modest home (for a man of his wealth) across the street from the hotel, and spent his next twenty years living in it, enjoying his retirement. He called his home The Casements because of the casement windows throughout. His former home is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It isn't just a tourist attraction, though, it's used by the City of Ormond Beach for community affairs as well.
Some changes have been made to the house since Rockefeller resided there. A comparison can be made by examining the photographs in the auditorium, formerly his dining room. The sun parlors up and downstairs have been accurately restored to the way they were in his day and the living room looks much like it did then, as well. Tall cabinets in the kitchen, built all the way to the ceiling, are correct for the early 1900s.
In the center of the octagonal living room is an octagonal balcony that opens up to the second and third floors. Photographs show Rockefeller's elaborate Christmas parties held every year in that living room. The community still holds a celebration there at Christmas time to continue the tradition. White wicker furniture with brocade cushions, in the first floor sun parlor, are the same type of furnishings he would have used in that area. His roofed wicker beach chair is on exhibit in that room.
In the second floor sun parlor his roll top desk is still in place in front of the window where he could look out at the magnificent park leading down to the river. Appropriately, Victorian furniture, and Oriental rugs fill the rest of the room.
From journal Spring Break at Ormand Beach