The centerpiece of Eden Gardens is the historic Wesley House, a restored antebellum plantation home built by timber baron William Henry Wesley in 1897. Surrounding the home are lush cultivated gardens.
Location: Point Washington
Fees: $4 per vehicle. $4 per person for mansion tour.
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily. Guided tours of the mansion are Thu-Mon 10-3.
Leashed pets welcome
“It’s a perfect day for snakes,” says Ranger Rich, and the two ladies look uncomfortable. “In here?” one asks, hesitantly.
He grins. “No, under the house. They like it when it warms up!”
And so our tour starts at the Wesley Mansion, a plantation home from 1898 all dressed up in a French Provincial wrapper on the grounds of what is now Eden Gardens State Park, east of Santa Rosa.
When New York heiress Lois Maxon bought the abandoned house in the 1960s, she brought in what’s now the second-largest collection of Louis XVI furnishings in America, including a hand-carved 1840 rosewood loveseat and a late-1800s Chippendale bedside table.
Outside, formal gardens establish the grandeur of the estate, with monkey puzzle trees standing tall along a hedgerow near the restrooms.
The Rose Garden has winding brick pathways and statuary, while the azalea garden flourishes beneath gnarled old live oaks.
A reflection pond draw attentions to plantings in the midst of the grand lawn, while the Hidden Garden, tucked away along the nature trail, offers an interesting bronze statue amid the camellias.
The home is along a sweep of bayou and bay at Point Washington, which can be explored by kayak or on foot along the nature trail.
Explore the park
- Tucker Bayou Trail - At Eden Gardens State Park, the Tucker Bayou Trail starts and ends at the Tucker Bayou picnic area and leads you through dense forests above the bayou