By Erika Webb
To coincide with the last weekend of Florida's Archaeology Month and DeLand's 49th art festival, the oldest standing historic house in the city was open for tours March 29-30.
Saturday was a wash and the art festival ended up being shut down because of tornado warnings, but Sunday brought brighter offerings for exploring the old homestead, across from Earl Brown Park's tennis courts.
Stockton-Lindquist House at 244 E. Beresford Ave. was built in 1870 when DeLand was still called Persimmon Hollow.
The two families for which it is named endured many of the tragedies of that century -- untimely deaths, financial hardship and general uncertainty.
Alexander Huggins Stockton joined the Confederate Army after the deaths of his wife and two of his four children.
He eventually married his wife's sister and moved to DeLand, where he became its first sheriff, according to the SLH website.
Seven of the eight children born to "Capt. Alexander" and his second wife were born between 1867 and 1886 in the single-story home that is now the first floor of three in the house on Beresford Avenue.
Mr. Stockton owned a real estate office in DeLand and was co-owner of a dry goods store downtown before the family left the area sometime around 1885.
Originally on 159 acres, the property was parceled out and, in 1890, 10 acres and the house were sold to Andrew and Mary J. Lindquist, according to the website.
"Two years after the move, the groves were lost in the devastating freezes of the mid-1890s. All seems lost from that time on. Mr. Lindquist survived by being a "jack of all trades." He was an excellent carpenter, as is evidenced in the great workmanship of this fine old historic home," the website notes.
"There are a lot of Lindquist buildings in DeLand," said the home's current owner Terryann Thomas.
Over the years, five of the couple's nine children died and although the house was sold for taxes in 1902 in the amount of $6.88, the Lindquists continued to live on the property.
"Mr. Lindquist died on Jan. 1, 1910. Mrs. Lindquist died in 1929, leaving the house to her three surviving daughters, Winifred, Martha and Louise. The youngest (Louise) lived in the house with her husband Sam Clifton from 1930 until Sam died in 1949. After that the three Lindquist sisters lived there together until Louise died in 1969.It was always the Lindquist home until 1969 when it was sold for $25,000," according to the website.
Today Stockton-Lindquist House is a work in progress.
Ms. Thomas didn't set out to buy the property that had been on the market for 10 years.
"It was kind of accidental," she said. "I wasn't looking for a house because I owned a house already. I was curious and wanted to see it rather than buy it."
But in 1995 she became the historic site's latest owner.
"The windows were broken out. The plaster and drywall on the ceilings were falling," Ms. Thomas said.
On July 4, 2008, the Stockton-Lindquist House became the home of the Stockton-Lindquist House Foundation for Historic Preservation Inc.
"The foundation is organized exclusively for religious, charitable, education and scientific purposes, including for such purposes as the restoration and preservation in perpetuity of historic buildings and properties," Ms. Thomas posted on the website.
She wants it to "increase the sum of historic knowledge for the benefit of all mankind."
The historic designation was a happy coincidence, she said.
"When they were going to widen Amelia Avenue and make a turn lane, the county had to pay to find out if (the site) was historic," Ms. Thomas explained. "It was the same application (as is used) to be on the historic register, so it all happened by accident and all at once."
"They couldn't encroach, so they didn't get to put a turn lane in," she added.
Restoration has been slow but steady.
"We don't take grant money," Ms. Thomas said. "There (are) too many tentacles. That's why it's taken so long. We just do it as we can do it."
Using recycled and repurposed items from wherever she can get them and getting help from volunteers and people working to fulfill community service commitments due to misdemeanor crimes have helped the owner accomplish a lot.
"That's how I got the house painted," she said.
A St. Patrick's Day festival yielded donations.
"We did pretty well," Ms. Thomas said. "That's how we were able to buy lattice."
SLH is open for tours four times a year. At this point ongoing renovations preclude tour regularity.
"Halloween is the best time, because the house is a little bit Addams Family looking," she said. "It looks haunted."
"People say they feel a presence," Ms. Thomas said. "You can get creeped out. I don't go downstairs once I've gone up during the night."
She lives on the third floor.
Next, Ms. Thomas said, she'd like to create an archaeological site, possibly toward the end of summer.
"We have found a cistern behind the house," she said. "It's probably the original and we want to dig that. We'd be open on weekends so the public could come and participate because who gets to do that?"
"It would be neat for parents to bring their kids," she added.
Ms. Thomas is a writer who has produced several poems and pre-teen stories. Five copyrighted works appear on the SLH website and will be compiled to create a book.
"My poetry can be a little on the dark side," she said.
A fan favorite is The Shadow of Natalee.
"It's about child abuse, hidden in a message," Ms. Thomas said.
The physical and spiritual archeological journey has led Ms. Thomas to uncover things, but also people who have turned out to be treasures.
The organization's executive secretary Luis Madrigal was born in a primitive village in Colima, Mexico, in 1983, according to Ms. Thomas.
"Shamans practiced spiritual healing as one of the medicine arts. Villagers spoke in the ancient tongue of the Aztec people," her website states.
Mr. Madrigal, who moved to the U.S. in 1989, is a paralegal who helped with getting the non-profit designation. Aside from gathering information on all the religions of the world for the book Shadow of Natalee with Ms. Thomas, Mr. Madrigal has been a devoted volunteer, going so far as to write to the representatives of 60 celebrities in an effort to obtain autographed pictures to sell at fundraisers.
In the process of working on the house she didn't mean to buy, Ms. Thomas also has obtained an online pastor ordination and earned an interior design certificate from the University of Florida.
"It all works out accidentally," she said. "That's why it's so much fun."
To see more, visit Stockton Lindquist House on Facebook.