CASSELBERRY, Fla. – It’s been a staple in the heart of Casselberry for decades and now city leaders are ensuring the future of the Brightwater Estate.
The historic home belonged to the founder of Casselberry, Hibbard Casselberry. Earlier this year leaders bought the property to save it from potential development and turn it into a place for everyone.
Dr. Deborah Bauer, a Florida historian and the founder and president of the Society for Historic Casselberry, said the property has historical significance.
“The house, which was built in 1952, it’s one of the few remaining residential structures that was designed by James Gamble Rogers II,” Bauer said.
The property’s future was uncertain after Casselberry’s son died in 2019.
City Manager Randy Newlon said potential development could have turned the 12 acres of land along the shore of South Lake Triplet into single-family homes.
“We sought to preserve the property,” Newlon said.
The city bought the property earlier this year for $1.25 million. Newlon said plans include restoring the historic mansion and turning it into a venue for weddings and other gatherings. Plans also include making the property a passive park with walking paths and a botanical garden.
The city hired a consulting firm with provided leaders an update on the conceptual design plans last week. The community has had opportunities to weigh in, including making changes to parking at the venue.
“We think it has potential to be a beautiful place. I think it will be a very successful event venue. I think it would attract a lot of people to the city that doesn’t know it yet,” Newlon said.
Bauer said she sees the property not only as a place for the community to enjoy in the future but also as a way to remember the past.
“It’s going to be something that’s also going to have a historical preservation aspect to it,” Bauer said. “This will be a place where people can take advantage of the gardens, they can take advantage of educational opportunities and they really have a place where they can go and be at peace.”
There is no timeline on when the historic house will be restored and the property turned into a passive park. City leaders said future meetings will be scheduled, including working on the design plans. Newlon adds the city is still working on the funding.