She has been a phoenix in the making for almost two decades. The century-old, Sydonie Mansion, has had its share of starts and stops in the arduous process of restoration.
Today, the impressive historic estate nestled on Mount Dora's southern edge is well on her way to a rebirth. New owners Amy & Clark Frogley are passionate about preserving the landmark's architecture and history. The couple purchased the thirteen bedroom, ten bathroom Mediterranean Revival mansion in 2014 and plans to complete its restoration and share it with the public later this year. The ultimate goal is to have weddings on the sprawling, oak-filled grounds, as well as guided tours of the mansion to help fund its continual restoration and maintenance.
Originally built in 1885, Sydonie was designed with an extraordinary balance of glamour and warmth. Although much of the ironwork and lighting are museum-worthy, Amy's favorite indoor spaces are the understated butler's pantry and staircase.
"These are some abnormally cozy spaces in the mansion," said Amy.
This staircase, still sports the original wood worn down from years by those that labored there.
"The Butler's Pantry cupboards smell like home to me and I love thinking of the massive amounts of work that took place in this area to get ready for an event back in the day," continued Amy.
The twelve-acre grounds are arguably some of the most stunning real estate in Central Florida. The Spanish Court at the center of the mansion, bears a strong resemblance to one of Alhambra's courtyards, which was the castle that inspired Sydonie's design. The courtyard boasts a long koi pond, flower gardens and a romantic whispering wall.
Then there is the boathouse. Descending through the lush tropical garden to the steps of the boathouse, visitors feel like they are either in Bali, Hawaii or Florida. Once inside, the rustic Mediterannean building almost transports its occupants to Italy's Lake Cuomo.
Among their many plans for the impressiveestate, the Frogleys hope to turn its large laundry building into the mansion's visitors center.
Sydonie's original antiques survived in the mansion until about 1995 when they were sold in an auction. "Barbra Streisand purchased the urns from the front porch and the andirons from the living room fireplace, " said Amy adding that she believes the bulk of the furnishings were sold to local residents.
Approximately three years ago, a local antique dealer was reportedly called to appraise the antiques and sold some of Sydonie's contents from the front porch. During that sale some of the mansion's window shutters, screens and summer fireplace screens were inadvertently sold. The Frogley's hope to find those original, custom-fitted shutters, to help protect the historic landmark from Florida's strong storms.
" We would gladly pay what was put out for them to whoever has purchased them. It would be so amazing to get them 'home' someday," said Amy.
The couple was forced to re-prioritize and adjust schedules after discovering the expense of various county fees and the recent unexpected expense of moving the septic tank found on the neighbor's property.
The Frogley's hope to open Sydonie's doors this fall to share its history and renewed beauty with the public. A charity event benefiting Camp Boggy Creek is planned as a 60-day unveiling event. After that event daily tours of the mansion will be available Monday through Saturday.
Sydonie is in the process of being placed on the National Register of Historic Places and will likely receive the designation as the oldestmansion in Florida later this year.