Just an hour from Orlando lies a magical place from another time where the wonderful Wallace (Neff) left his mark.
In search of wonderful Wallace, a few friends and I recently made the drive to a place called Mountain Lake. This development of 3,500 acres, located in Lake Wales, Florida, was created in 1915. Six hundred acres were allocated for homes (5-6 acres each), laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. The beautiful architecture sits gracefully atop rolling hills amidst a golf course and orange groves. The community of 110 mansions began as a winter retreat for some of America’s wealthiest families; those who sought privacy and quiet over a glitzy social scene. It is still extremely quiet and private. A guarded gate prevents entry to the public.
Irving T. Bush chose Wallace Neff to design his Florida home after visiting his daughter in California. Bush was impressed with the Spanish style and in particular the houses of Neff. The California architect designed in a simpler less ornate style than that of the Palm Beach architects. In fact,
The whole job was very much a California product, as the architect even imported a California interior decorator and a California painting contractor and his crew to Florida at considerable expense, to obtain finishes which craftsmen in that state were incapable of duplicating.
The house cast its spell over us. We reminisced all week about the marvelous details seen inside. Good architecture makes all the difference in a home. The scale of this 5,000 sq foot home just feels good. The foyer invites one in with its gracious details. Numerous openings provide glimpses into other rooms. The living room is quite large but doesn’t feel impersonal.
A detailed pebble pattern bordered by brick creates a picturesque driveway. Tall podocarpus protects the house from curious onlookers.
I love a tiled plaque.
The house recently received a fresh coat of paint to prepare for a family wedding.
Thoughtful details are found inside and out.
Tile and detailed beams.
Charming shutters frame the small kitchen windows.
Subtle tiles decorate the low risers of the brick steps.
An old tiled bench offers quiet contemplation of the lake and grounds.
A glimpse of the large property with its citrus trees.
The shutter detail will likely be plagiarized by me.
Wonderful details on the living room beams.
Lessons to be learned from old houses.
Screen doors slide back into the walls.
This small door led to the original kitchen. It was designed to be diminutive as only the staff would use this entrance. In fact, when the house was built, only breakfast would have been eaten at home. Lunch and a black-tie dinner were at the clubhouse.
In the office is a small door in the wall.
Which conceals a fire hose. Three exist in the house; one on each floor.
The rose garden adds a touch of formality in a side garden.
The wonderful foyer exemplifies 360 degree attention to detail.
The opposite wall of the foyer.
The dining room is viewed when entering the home. To the left is a small vestibule leading to a guest room and living room.
Off of the kitchen is a small terrace overlooking the lake.
A beautiful old door conceals a closet in the guest bedroom.
Another view of the guest room.
The living room is expansive yet comfortable.
Wonderful period sconces.
The owner favors this cozy room.
It is perfect for lounging and observing the lake.
Handmade tile throughout the home.
Thank you wonderful Wallace Neff for making Florida more beautiful.
Casa V Interiors can help you make your home more beautiful.