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History, Happenings and Halloween Tea are all Found at Rossetter House Museum and Gardens

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Learning about settler history and architecture of the Eau Gallie and Melbourne communities is part of what Rossetter House Museum and Gardens is all about. The Museum is named after the last family that lived in the home. The Florida Historical Society now manages the museum and the Rossetter Foundation, which was created by Carrie Rossetter.

"The history of the Rossetter House is unique because the construction of the home spans over 60 years and is contributed from three different families," notes Museum Assistant Meghan A. Karnes. John Carroll Houston III built the oldest part of the house, now the kitchen -- in 1859. Houston gave the land to his daughter and husband, Ada Louise Houston and William R. Roesch, who expanded the first floor and built a second-story addition in the 1880s.

Later, the house was purchased by James Wadsworth Rossetter, who in 1908 purchased a home brought from down the river, reassembled it adjacent to the existing one and connected them with a cooling breezeway.

Education and Florida vernacular architecture blend in the home and attached gardens. Both the Rossetter homestead and the original Roesch residence across the street, purchased by the Rossetter sisters in the 1940s, are part of the Museum, along with the Houston Cemetery with its curious footstones. The informative 45-minute tour of the buildings and grounds describes the area's history and its interesting facts. You can find local artwork for purchase along with a treasure trove of books on Florida and local history at the Museum gift shop.

Karnes tells us, "The Historic Rossetter House Museum provides a beautiful outdoor setting for events. Our gardens are substantial and mature, giving events the background and intimate setting desired for special occasions." The Lawn and Garden event space has a private shaded patio, two lawns surrounded by palm trees and gardens and separate bride's room for weddings.

On the smaller side, there is the private patio surrounded by colorful gardens for 30 or fewer guests. Inside no more than 20 people can enjoy a bright, air-conditioned space for smaller gatherings or meetings. As a nonprofit organization, Karnes notes that the Museum has "very affordable prices for the wallet-conscious customer."

Aside from private events, the Museum also hosts many community happenings throughout the year, including the hopping' Easter Egg Hunt on March 26 with prior registration required. Then there is Civil War Day on April 16 and a number of themed teas, such as Mother's Day Tea on May 7 or Witches Tea near Halloween.

The museum's most popular event is the Murder Mystery Tours, which are, says Karnes, "run by volunteer community actors that walk you through an historical setting and a curious thriller." Given the age of the properties and the nearby cemetery, you may want to hold onto your hats before each thriller's ending.

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