This home was built in 1888 by John Neill Searcy. The Searcy homestead was very large on the west side of the town of Longwood, it stretched from the shores of West Lake to the north and southward to encompass all of Lake Searcy. The home stayed in the Searcy family for over a century.
Searcy was originally from Tennessee and spent four years in the Confederate army during the Civil War. The Searcy family arrived in Longwood via steamer “Starlight” to Mellonville (Sanford) on March 23, 1873. At the age of 31, John walked on foot from the wharf with intentions of traveling to Maitland to find a homestead. About half way on his journey, he came across the Longwood area and decided to homestead here instead. The Searcy family were among the first settlers in the area, arriving even before Longwood founder Edward Warren Henck.
Searcy’s initial home was northeast of today’s central Longwood, in the area of the modern Skylark Subdivision. He supported himself by selling cypress which grew on his homestead, and planted groves. He also served with the South Florida Railroad surveying party in 1879, and assisted as a carpenter. He married in 1885 and built this two-story mansion in 1888. Directories from 1886-87 and 1891 list him as the owner of 10 and 8 acres of groves, respectively. In 1889, he became the postmaster for Longwood.
Alain and Sarah Girard bought the home in 1987. They restored it and maintained beautiful gardens. The Girard family operated it as a beautiful Victorian wedding venue and photo shoot location from the 1990s until Sarah died in 2014. Sarah loved the home from an early page, growing up next door and playing as a child by the lake under its magnolia, camphor, mulberry, and palm trees.