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Community works to preserve 113-year-old house on Bannerman Road

Neighbors fight to keep historic house
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 18:31:08-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — New developments are coming to Northeast Tallahassee. But the sight of change isn't welcome for many.

That's because sitting right in the middle of the new changes is a 113-year-old house. That home now inspiring people like Arielle Cleary to do something to save it.

"For me it represents history. I always stop, and I look and I'm like this house is so gorgeous and I wonder why no one is living there," said Cleary.

She's not alone in the inquiry. Monday morning, an innocent Facebook post inquiring about the history of the house at 1665 Bannerman Road turned into a quest to save it.

The Scott-Cawthon House was built 113 years ago for the Boston-Florida Tobacco company founder Levi William Scott. Scott's great-grandson Ralph Scott III told ABC 27 the land was once known as the most complete and highly developed farm in Florida. The family even imported French dairy cows known for their high butterfat content to produced milk and ice cream in their creamery, Leon County Milk Co.

In the 1950s, the home was sold to prominent Leon County Judge Victor Cawthon. Ownership never switched hands until recently, when the Golden Oak Land Group LLC bought the home.

"You just don't see history that's preserved like that anymore without having to completely do an HGTV renovation on it. So the fact that it's still there and it's still in amazing shape, it's worth preserving," said Cleary. "If I have to sit there with a sign that says, this House is not going anywhere, I will do it with my two little ones, and we will stand up for something important."

The proposed development would include residential and commercial property, including the possibility of a Publix. Because the Scott-Cawthon home was never registered as a historic structure in the county, there's nothing mandating the new owners to keep it intact. Constructions workers have already cleared the land immediately beside the home. For now, it remains intact.

"We have the Publix less than three minutes up the road. We have that huge facility that they just put Bannerman Crossings in. I don't think we need to continue shoving things into every little nook and cranny," said Cleary.

Now Cleary has a petition asking others to join her in helping save the home. Within an hour, 100 people had already pledged support.

It's support that the Scott family appreciates. The family still owns one piece of land nearby; the family cemetery. It's where Ralph Scott III's immediate family is buried, including his grandfather Levi. That plot of land isn't subject to demolition. It's just one idea the family is bouncing around includes getting the home moved from where it sits just east of Bull Headley to closer to the cemetery just behind Summer Brooke.

There is a public meeting on February 3. Concerned neighbors and descendants of the family who built the house plan to speak in an attempt to save it.