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North Brevard History - Titusville, Florida

The Dummitt Mansion

By Michael Knight

The Dummitt Mansion is not to be confused with the Dummitt Castle. The Dummitt Castle was built on land adjacent to the old Dummitt Grove area of North Merritt Island on land purchased by the Duke and Duchess of Castelluccio after Douglas Dummitt died in 1873. It was the three story mansion with octagonal shaped rooms on the ends of the first and second floors of the building.

The Dummitt Mansion was a rather crude one-room house built by Douglas Dummitt himself. On February 2, 1873, a description of the "mansion" was written by Amos Jay Cummings, a writer for northern newspapers, using his code name "Ziska". Jerald T. Milanich compiled many of these articles and put them in a book entitled "The Florida Adventures of Amos Jay Cummings 1873-1893."

The excerpt about Dummitt's mansion reads as follows:
"I reached Dummitt's groves about noon. They contain 3,000 orange trees, and are surrounded by a thick scrub. No fences separated them from the scrub, and it is a common thing for deer, and even bears, to be seen in the groves. Possums and coons are plentiful, and even wild cats and panthers make their appearance at intervals. The groves are about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. The trees are about twenty-five feet apart. The ground beneath them is kept entirely free from any vegetation. It is of a rich sandy formation. The whole grove was cool and shady. Hardly a fleck of sunlight fell upon us while we were in it. The land was naturally curved like a parenthesis, thus keeping it entirely free from swampy moisture. The first tree that attracted my attention as I entered the grove was a lemon tree. The lemons were thin-skinned and of an extraordinary size. In some places I found lemons and oranges growing upon the same tree, and in one case lemons, oranges, and limes upon the same branch, Some of the orange trees were in blossom, others were loaded with dark fruit in various stages of development, but the most of them groaned under the weight of large, ripe yellow oranges. The climate and the soil are such that Capt. Dummitt says that he has raised oranges every month in the year. The Captain's black razor-backed hogs appeared to have a good time of it, for they roamed about the grove fattening upon the ripe oranges as they fell from the trees.

As I approached the Captain's house, the trees grew thicker and the shade became more dense. The most lovely spot in the grove was occupied by the Captain's hog pen. This pen was made of palmetto logs, and was ten or twelve feet in height. It was shaded by the most thrifty growth of orange trees. The leaves were so fresh and hardy that they looked as though they were made of green wax. I asked why the Captain made his pig pen so high, and was informed that he was much troubled because it was not high enough. His long-snouted razor-backs would go up the logs and over the pen as easy as a coon or a possum could go up a persimmon tree.

The Captain's house was a few yards south of the pig pen. One of his daughters stood in the door. The mansion was built of unplaned boards. They had neither been painted nor whitewashed, and had become black from the action of the weather. The house contained but one room. The Captain's bed, well protected by mosquito bars" (netting), "stood in the southwest corner. Another bed was in the other corner. Opposite the door was the fireplace, surmounted by a rough mantelpiece. Two or three wooden chairs were scattered about the corner nearest the door. Everything was as clean as a pin, thanks to the Captain's daughter. The walls were neither lathed nor plastered, and streaks of daylight could be seen beneath the side boards. There were no windows in the house. Light was admitted through a square hole, which was covered with rough wooden shutters. I seated myself upon a wooden bench at the door. Nothing was to be seen in any direction but orange and lemon trees, limes and guavas.

Dr. Campbell, a smart looking colored man with gray hair, who has started a grove on Mosquito Lagoon, handed our party a dozen oranges and told us to help ourselves. After resting and taking a drink from a well which had been sunk into the soft rock underlying the soil, we went through the upper part of the grove. The trees were the same. Oranges, lemons, limes, guavas, tamarinds, bananas, and other tropical fruits all grew in great abundance. A half dozen graves were stretched beneath an orange tree. Wooden headstones told the names of the persons buried, but no fence surrounded the mounds.

On the east side of the grove the hammock had not been fully cleared; though another grove, equal in extent to the one we visited, lay upon the other side of the hammock."

The picture below is of the Coquina fireplace that was in "The Dummitt Mansion."

The remains of the Dummitt Mansiion firelace
Dummitt Mansion Fireplace

So, now you know the difference between the Dummitt Mansion and the Dummitt Castle.

The Dummitt family never lived in Dummitt Castle, but they did live in Dummitt Mansion.




North Brevard History


12/26/2017