20 Responses

  1. Alison Carver

    I love learning about our area’s history. I am a first generation Floridian in my family. My father is from Bay City, Michigan, and my mother is from Long Island, New York. Both of them moved down to Florida in either their late teens/early twenties, and although they both have stories and pictures of how much this area has changed just over the last 40 years, I am always amazed to hear about the true birth of this area from much further back. I lucked out and have married into a family enriched with local culture and heritage, with my husband being a sixth generation Floridian, coming from one of the original founding families of Grant, FL. His grandmother is an amazing record keeper, and can tell a story better than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with her, as there’s always something to learn.

    What I really enjoyed about this article, is the fact that it pointed out how dependent we were in this area on the river, not only for a source of food, but also for means of transportation. Prior to the extensive canal systems put in, any attempt at building and maintaining roadways was a daunting task with the extensive flooding and low lying swap areas native to this land. The river truly was our life. This is why many historic houses build right on the river stand with the front of the houses facing the river. That wasn’t only a better view, but it was also the front yard, since all the comings and goings were via the river.

    Finally, I couldn’t end this response without commenting on the absolute beauty in the Pecky Cypress. Just amazing. What a true treasure this wood is, acting almost like a time capsule, preserving its self underwater, capturing the history rich within the rings of the log over time. In my often elaborate, and overly romantic mind, I imagine the random knots and imperfections of the boards, if able to be read like brail, would produce such a beautiful story or song of the times, much like that of a player piano. I’m sure during the Cyprus harvest in the 1800, this was probably considered a dud, or a waste due to its imperfections, opposed to now, it’s such an elusive and prized find one could only hope to stumble across.

  2. Amber Maiwald

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. I didn’t know that organizations like NACA were so important to the war effort during WWII. It must have been rewarding for these individuals who worked at these types of organizations to contribute to their country in a different way other than engaging in combat.
    I didn’t know that in the late 1950s Melbourne and the surrounding area were so underdeveloped. Coming from a small town, I understand the excitement when a new store comes into town. It’s hard to imagine Melbourne in this context. I think that it’s unique that people travelled by boats to get from the north to the south side of Melbourne. Not many people get to experience this type of travel.
    I chose to read this article because of the mention of a boathouse. I have always been interested in older structures that reside close to the water. I find it amazing that such structures are still standing because of weather issues, especially in the state of Florida. These structures must have been built very strongly. I think I might have rowed past this area before. I always enjoyed rowing in this area because of the old structures like this one and because of the architecture of the surrounding houses.
    The part of the article about the Pecky Cypress is also very interesting. One wouldn’t think that this type of wood would be used to build structures because of its Swiss cheese design. One would think that this would make the structure less stable because of the holes in the wood. The part about the saw mill was also interesting because I grew up in a town on Lake Superior that once had many saw mills.

  3. Jessica Hook

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. It is so interesting to know that Melbourne has so much history considering that the town is just over 50 years old. I had no idea that the main source of transportation that people had was by water. It’s also interesting that even though NASA was established in the area, there were roads that weren’t paved yet and there were not that many stores available in the area. It is amazing to hear about the city years ago and picturing the way that it was compared to what it has become.

    The “Pecky Cyprus” wood is very interesting how it comes from a tree that actually has fungus in it. Typically, you would think that a tree having a fungus would ruin it rather than make that lumber that comes from it more valuable.

    I hope that the boat house is able to be restored the best to its ability and stays there for as long as possible as the original structure. Melbourne is not a very old town so there is not a large abundance of history around. Having landmarks that represent the way that things were done years ago is very important to have. People who are natives to certain areas of the world are very proud of the history that they have to offer. The fact that Melbourne is such a young town and actually has history to offer is defiantly something to be proud of.

  4. Melanie McAboy

    I enjoy reading your articles because I learn a lot from each one. I’m glad I was able to learn such a heartwarming local story. It is fascinating to think that in the fifties there wasn’t much developed land. When I look around the area now I seldom think about the way it was only 60 years ago. The pictures you use in the article is very enlightening as well. The picture of the grocery store from the 20’s is fascinating.
    Now that I think about the two bridges connecting beach-side to the mainland it makes total sense that people would travel by way of boat. This is new information for me so now when I’m driving I will keep scoping for historic houses that may clue me into our areas past.
    The look of the bald cypress trees is truly unique. I am amazed by how old they are. It seems to be common knowledge in our country that the Redwood Forest outside of Redding, California are made up of ancient trees. When I think of ancient trees in our country I think California, now I can pay respect to the Cypress trees in our area as well. After reading this article I realize how special this boat house is. I hope that the money can be raised to repair it. I think it’s important to remember these places as they have so much history behind them.

  5. Daniel MacLeod

    I feel like this story really epitomizes the reasoning behind historic preservation. If someone were to walk up to me and ask me to fund a project for restoring a boathouse I would tell them to keep moving, what is so significant about an old boat house? In this case though, the boathouse had such a big impact on the community that it served and it needs to be maintained so generations to come can realize that life was not so easy to just take a car to the town over or simply walk. There was a whole process just to go see the family across the river, which will bring appreciation for the past. One of the pictures in the blog, the picture of the house from the side where you can see the river and the dock with the house, it looks like the house is just one nail coming out to half the house and deck just collapsing into the river. I really hope this project gets going fast because it does not look like this place can withhold itself much longer in the condition that it is in. A little insight that I found interesting was the wood and how it is normally found in the bottom of riverbeds and it just made me think of one of those history shows “Swamp Loggers” or something like that, and now I can see why those guys pull wood our of water, it always just looked pointless to me. Obviously not anymore.

  6. Drew Lacy

    This particular blog post really opened my eyes to some of the historic structures in our area. Without thinking about or knowing the history of many of these locations, it’s easy to say, “That’s just an old rickety boathouse. Why does it matter?” It’s stunning how much history is contained within each of the Cyprus “pecky wood” planks, and it makes me wonder what other structures I’ve personally seen and disregarded without actually knowing the deeper history behind them.

    I’ve grown up in the Palm Bay/Melbourne area my entire life, and I had no idea that the Eau Gallie and Melbourne areas were once traversed back and forth by residents in boats. My parents’ first house in Palm Bay, where I was born and went through elementary school, was in a relatively undeveloped area. Our roads were just beginning to be paved, and I remember the bumpy ride to school and back on the unpaved, untamed roads. It felt rural to me, then, and so it’s incredible to imagine how wild Brevard was back then.

    I think this story in particular is especially relevant to the students at Florida Institute of Technology. I would bet that many of our engineering students were never aware that NASA had a predecessor in NACA. (As a communication major, I certainly wasn’t!) So many students would look at that boathouse and never dream of the connection it had to what would later become the prided space program. It’s a bit of history worth telling, and it makes me wonder about other ways to get these stories out.

  7. ahmed almaz

    What I really enjoyed about this article, is the fact that it pointed out how dependent we were in this area on the river, not only for a source of food, but also for means of transportation. Prior to the extensive canal systems put in, any attempt at building and maintaining roadways was a daunting task with the extensive flooding and low lying swap areas native to this land. The river truly was our life. This is why many historic houses build right on the river stand with the front of the houses facing the river. That wasn’t only a better view, but it was also the front yard, since all the comings and goings were via the river. I am always amazed to hear about the true birth of this area from much further back.
    Finally, I couldn’t end this response without commenting on the absolute beauty in the Pecky Cypress. Just amazing. What a true treasure this wood is, acting almost like a time capsule, preserving its self underwater, capturing the history rich within the rings of the log over time. In my often elaborate, and overly romantic mind, I imagine the random knots and imperfections of the boards, if able to be read like brail, would produce such a beautiful story or song of the times, much like that of a player piano. I’m sure during the Cyprus harvest in the 1800, this was probably considered a dud, or a waste due to its imperfections, opposed to now, it’s such an elusive and prized find one could only hope to stumble across.

  8. Jessica Derrick

    I would have never been able to guess such a history went into a boathouse like this if I was just to pass by. It sounds like it would have been a big culture shock to move to Melbourne back in those days before all of the modern touches had reached the area. The job of adjusting would have been a difficult task, especially while raising a family. I believe that Mrs. Bartlett’s view of supporting her husband is one that is very consistent with the family structure of the time, and although it is still apparent in today’s society I believe that family structures have changed over the years; that is one of the key parts to the story that I believe needs to be passed on to future generations, because family roles have changed and it is important to remember where we have come from.
    I find it incredible to think of a time where boats were needed the same way cars are today. I find it incredible how much things have changed in the past 60 years, and can only imagine what the future will bring, potentially 60 years from now old houses will have garages that they are trying to preserve because they are no longer part of everyday lives.
    It is hard to imagine how difficult it would be to create such a boat house back because as much technology was around. Places like this are important because the skills of being able to hand craft buildings such as these are being lost to the use of technology.
    Although it does not look like much, this one building can tell so many stories about the past and the way life use to be.

  9. Joseph Hemler

    This post is really neat. I have watched a special on how the logs would sink and were left at the bottom of the water since. The fact that the water preserves the logs and actually increases their value was surprising to me since the logs seem ruined. The fact that the water preserves the trees and changes the color due to the minerals in the water is awesome, I would believe that the logs would deteriorate underneath the waters surface for such a long time.

    Since the water makes the logs termite resistant I can see how there would be a high demand of that wood. I have have very bad experiences with termites in Florida and they will eat through anything! The boat house is an awesome reminder of how the United States was built and good reminder of how much more abundant materials were back then. This boat house seems to be in good condition knowing that it was built so long ago by early lumber workers in the United States of America.
    The “pecky Cyprus” is awesome to know about, the fact that you can not know if the tree is considered a pecky Cyprus or not until you cut it down is pretty cool. Not many of these types of trees exist since it takes so long for them to grow like that and humans these days harvest trees as fast as we can grow them. This boat dock is really neat and I can absolutely see why a community would want it preserved.

  10. Loriann DeMello

    I think this is so cool. The story of the boathouse is one thing, but the story of where we live now, Melbourne, is even cooler in my opinion. It’s always interesting to learn about where you live, and considering that I’ve lived here for four years now I consider is sort of home. I can’t believe that not too long ago this place had so little. Considering NASA is here and the downtown historic district, I expected the Melbourne area to be a lot older.
    In regards to the boathouse, I wish I could see it. I haven’t been in many of them. The only one I have been in around here is the one for the Florida Tech crew team. I don’t think that building is historic, but it is pretty old and falling apart. I think it is awesome that the Bartlett family found out their boathouse is made from such a unique wood. I hope that because of this information, they preserve the building rather than simply reconstructing it. The wood has a neat look to it, and has a lot of history regarding the Melbourne area. Learning about these things really makes you question all the decrepit places you pass by every day. I’m sure many of them hold an importance to someone, if not many, and deserve to be preserved to keep the fond memories of the past alive.

  11. Tiffiny Ruehman

    What I enjoyed most about this blog was the stories behind this boathouse. It is not just a boathouse, it is memories and an early effort of using sustainable materials. It may not look beautiful to some people, but it has rustic charm and natural beauty.
    It was very interesting to learn what “Pecky Cypress” was and that people knew how to use it. How did they know that this particular wood would withstand water damage and repell insects? This boathouse probably wouldn’t be here today without that knowledge. I could see by looking at the pictures why the wood has this particular name. It reminds me of swiss cheese or a natural sponge due to the holes in it. It is definately not typical wood which makes it more charming.
    I also enjoyed learning about the Bartlett family. Seeing Melbourne and Eau Gallie in its current condition, it was interesting to learn that people used boats more than cars back then to get around. I could see why boathouses would be so important to the culture as recent as 60 years ago. That sounds like a long time ago to some people, but in fact, it really isn’t. I could just imagine how strange Florida looked to Mrs. Bartlett, but how exciting it was to witness the birth of NASA.
    I have a new appreciation for structures that seem insignificant to the normal building and other such landmarks. This blog has definitely opened my eyes and makes me want to do more in the field of preservation.

  12. Shanna Lake

    I genuinly enjoyed this article. It it amazing to think about how much history we have in Florida. Just by driving by, if i see an old run down place, i just keep going. I never stopped to think about how much history can be behind one building. We do not think about the life it has gone through. It sure gives a different outlook now when you see an old building. it really makes you think, and makes you want to know the story behind it. I agree with the author, i think it would be really neat to find an historic building and be able to take photos of it. Not only that, but actually talking to the people who originally had it many years ago. It gives such a great insight of the matter. years from now, they can look at the photos they have taken and see the true history unlike others who drive by and see nothing but an old run down building. I am from a small town, so it is crazy to think of parts of Florida being once under developed.
    On another note, the Pecky Cypress is absolutely beautiful and unique! For as I am very big into unique styles and textures!

  13. shanna Lake

    I genuinly enjoyed this article

  14. Corinna

    I found that this post was quite refreshing because upon appearance many people may see this just as another “old” building but it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind this boathouse and all of the history that it entails. I found Mrs. Barlett and her husbands’ story of how they came to Florida intriguing. It must have taken courage for Mrs. Bartlett to move to a completely different state away from her family in a time when means of communication were by telephone, letters, etc. and not nearly as advanced as they are today and it’s amazing that her husband was considered essential to the war effort and worked for NASA when NASA was a new organization.

    I also love the story behind the boathouse. I have only lived in Florida with my husband for about two years now and am still discovering “new” (new to us) places to go visit and see. It’s hard for me to imagine Melbourne and (then) Eau Gallies’ sole source of transportation to each other being by boat. The wood used for the whole boathouse- Pecky Cyrus is so unique and beautiful, what a rarity. After looking at the images posted I wanted to see a clean cut piece just to compare old with new and it’s very beautiful in its raw state. This boathouse, much like many homes around Brevard amaze me at how much they’ve withstood over time with all of the wear and tear, humidity, etc. I really hope that this family will be able to repair the boathouse for many more generations to see.

  15. Kara Vonada

    This post was really eye opening, I love that you provided a perspective of a local resident. Having just moved to this area I know very little about the history. It’s so neat that the Melbourne/ Eau Gallie area used to be extremely reliant on the water. I’ve always wanted to live in a place where I can travel by boat. It’s crazy to see how much everything has changed. This area has become very busy, and modernized. It’s nice to see that people are putting in such an effort to keep buildings like this boat house in it’s original condition. The Bartlett’s story was really interesting to me, it reminds me of my grandparents. NASA is such a huge organization and it was really eye opening to see that Mr. Bartlett had a large influence on it’s growth. They seem like the type of people you would want to listen to for hours; telling stories about how things were in the old days. It really makes you appreciate how our society has developed. The fact that this boat house is made from a rare cypress gives it such unique character. The cypress looks so beautiful and in really great shape considering it has dealt with the elements. As a child, I always had an interest in old buildings and worn down places. I would wonder what it used to be like, and why it appears the way it does today. I love everything old, rustic, and a little beat up. I like to think it’s because of the character and charm, it just reminds me of working in my dad’s shop when I was little. There was always a project he was working on, the idea that you can take something that may be busted up and appear like trash and make it so beautiful has always inspired me. My dad is an aerospace mechanic, but he loved working on old cars as well. I think I get my love for antique and rustic objects from him. This article was really intriguing and brought great memories back for me.

  16. Antwan Mingo

    I am a native to this area, and have never heard of the Pecky Cyprus! It makes me wonder how many times I may have seen something made of this unique wood and never realized what I was looking at. The story behind this particular Cyprus boathouse is very interesting as well. My In my area of Central Florida there are mostly Australian pine trees and orange groves. Wicker furniture seems to be popular here, pine of course, as well as things made from beachwood. I am a native to this area, and have never heard of the Pecky Cyprus! It makes me wonder how many times I may have seen something made of this unique wood and never realized what I was looking at.
    The story behind this particular Pecky Cyprus boathouse is very captivating as well. My wife and I are first-generation Floridians (both sets of our parents are immigrants), and it is just so interesting to hear first-hand accounts of Central Florida’s growth. Much of our area’s history centers around the space industry, and Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett’s story is intriguing. His involvement with NASA just adds another fascinating level to the story of this unique boathouse.
    This boathouse seems to be in fair condition for its age, and I’m sure that many others have rotted away before their unique history was known. I hope this family is able to preserve this distinctive part of their own history.
    wife and I are first-generation Floridians (both sets of our parents are immigrants), and it is just so interesting

  17. Sandra Fox

    Walter and Shirley Bartlett purchased their property in 1956 when they moved to the area so that Walter could get involved with the” big missiles”. Located on the river and by the Eau Gallie yacht club the Bartlett’s home included a boathouse. This boathouse was built in 1930 and was made from Pecky Cyprus lumber. At first glance you may think that the building is weakened with weather worn, fragile lumber, nothing could be further from the truth. Pecky Cyprus is not only quite strong but naturally insect repellent, perfect lumber for the Florida heat and insect infested areas. The reason that Pecky lumber is so prized and expensive is because you cannot tell if the tree is affected until you cut into the wood. Even though the wood is strong and perfect for Florida, the way the Pecky or pock marks are made inside the wood is by a wood eating fungus. As stated before the wood is rare and now days can only be discovered from harvesting fallen logs at the bottom or rivers and swamps. To the untrained eye Pecky wood appears to be weather beaten, frail lumber. The beautiful patterns and shear strength of this wood make it ideal for boathouse and other structures close to the water. I plan on driving by the Eau Gallie neighborhood and taking a much closer look at all the boat houses, I’m sure several of them are built with Pecky lumber. It is fitting that the strength and tenacity of the Bartlett’s adventures into the world of big missiles is comparable to the strength of the wonderful and elusive lumber used on their boathouse, Pecky Cyprus wood.
    Word count: 278

  18. Tanya Flynn

    Peckly cyprus is one of the most beautiful types of wood that I have seen, in my opinion the patterns are absolutely amazing and bring to life the history of the tree that it came from. All the different shades of grey, tan and brown and the designs that they create makes one almost able to feel the textures of the wood without actually having to be there to touch it, some patterns look smooth and feathery like it would be soft to the touch, while others just look like if you touched it you would for sure get a huge splinter. My favorite design is the one that has the extreme color variations from white to light grey to dark grey with tans and browns miraged in between them in long linear lines. Only mother nature can produce such beauty that trying to reproduce it is very challenging for man and discovering the unique patterns that sunken waterlogged logs produced, purely I’m sure by accident, along with the added bonus of a natural pest defense is one of those things that really makes one appreciate the power and magnificence of what this wonderful planet that we call home is capable of doing and how we should respect and protect it for our future generations to enjoy and thrive on. And just as we think that we know so much about technology, nature and life, mother nature throws us a curve ball that really makes us think that there is so much more for us as a society to learn and to make it a better place for living with cleaner water and cleaner air and less depletion of our natural resources. With the preserving of these boat houses, it helps reduce waste, uses our renewable resources while teaching our future generation to do the same.

  19. Dylan Serra

    This article was like a classic love story but instead of being about a couple…it is about lumber (in an interesting perspective, out of the box sort of way). I really enjoyed this article…mostly because it is not about the usual preserved homes or buildings. Boat houses are very common in Florida, for obvious reasons, but because they are so common, it seems that they usually go overlooked and not talked about: so I enjoyed the fact that there was an article on just how important they were and still are to many people today. I wish that we still used boats as a major vice of transportation, just because of the simple beauty involved with water traveling and the ease and enjoyment that comes with it. Plus, it is not as crazy or dangerous to travel by boat, where there are about 10-15 accidents a day in North Brevard county. Think of the cost of insurance and what it could be! :) Anyway, this article was a quick fun read. The interesting parts about the fungus and how it internally destroys the wood but also allows the wood to pretty much become a repellant to almost anything and super strong due to the waterlogged pores and the minerals that age the wood is pretty fascinating. It really makes you wonder about the natural process of things and how some things that can ultimately destroy a living things growth and development can at the same time create a very strong and durable as well as extremely beautiful form of building materials. Mother nature always has a plan for things and we as humans sometimes overlook that. We need to just step back more and see how things play out instead of intervening and putting our own control into things. Who knows what could happen?!
    Also, It is always so wonderful hearing stories from the original source that is eager to tell them. It makes you feel like a kid again when an elder has a story you have never heard of before and enlightens you with the awes and wows of a “long ago,” tale. Another part of our history that is a dying tradition because of the internet and fantasy fables and epics. Hopefully, soon that will be a revival just like historic preservation. :)

  20. Chelsea Patrick

    The stories and the history behind this post make the story so much more interesting. It amazes me how much history and amazing tidbits people overlook when looking at some of the structures so beautifully scattered across our county (and state for that matter).
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Bartlett family story and how they migrated to Florida. What a wonderful life they lead. I especially enjoyed the details about the spade program and how that influenced their move here from Virginia.
    As long as I have lived in Brevard (coming up on 10 years) I have been amazed with being surrounded by water. Growing up in Winter Park, FL, I didn’t see a body of water every day. Lakes were prominent and scattered around the area but nothing compared to the obvious sight that the rivers hold here in Brevard county. Along with the beauty of the rivers come the beauty of the architecture that sits alongside them. Boathouses being of the plenty. I currently live off of the river road in Rockledge and am always driving along the road to get to and from one place or another. It always amazes me how many boathouses are mangled and holding on for dear life from a hurricane or just lack of upkeep. It’s a shame because some of them are creatively crafted and could be a gem if just given the proper tender loving care.
    The type of wood that the Bartlett’s used on their boathouse (Pecky Cyprus) is something I’ve never seen before and should be salvaged just for being so rare.
    I believe that by knowing where we came from, and how we got to where we are, can inhibit us to become a better future humankind. We must preserve our past or else we will lose it.

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