Sunday, April 04, 2004
'Matriarch's' manse ready for new duty
By MARK S. LUCKIE
DAYTONA BEACH — As Anna Rogers-Draper toured the restored home of her great-aunt Dr. Josie Rogers on Saturday, a locket with pictures of her family dangled from her left wrist. Now well into her older years, Rogers-Draper remembered walking through the home as a child.
“I remember when there was a cabinet here,” said the Chesapeake Bay, Va., resident, pointing to a blank space on the wall. “It’s been altered some, but you can still tell where certain things are.”
Rogers-Draper was one of a group of Dr. Josie Rogers’ relatives who traveled here to celebrate the renovation of the historic home and its rededication as a city building. Dr. Rogers, whom the family calls their matriarch, was the city’s first female mayor and first female doctor.
Nearly all of the $526,000 cost to buy, move, stabilize and renovate the home was paid for with state grants. The home fell into disrepair when the progress of renovation stalled. But now the home is restored to its former glory downtown along the Halifax River.
Josie Rogers-Cuffe, a Richmond, Va., native and teacher for 32 years, recalled fond memories of her great-aunt, who died in 1975 at age 99.
“I remember Aunt Josie sitting in the parlor while us kids would play,” said Rogers-Cuffe. “We would hear stories about our grandfather and great-grandfather who surveyed the land.”
Rogers-Draper said she knew when her great-aunt was near because she persistently cleared her throat.
“It was a well known-characteristic of hers,” she said. “It endeared her to us.”
The rededication of the historic home transformed into an impromptu family reunion when several relatives discovered that others were coming to Daytona Beach for the ceremony. The family gathered in the front room to reminisce on old times and other relatives.
Louise Scarborough of Orlando, a great-niece of Dr. Rogers, rattled off a list of cousins and relatives, trying to recount who was related to whom.
“It’s like who are you?” joked Scarborough. “We can’t count them up for sure.”
Several of the relatives of Dr. Rogers who were instrumental in the restoration of the house, including Mary Rogers McFall and Julia Childs, both grand-nieces of Dr. Rogers, died recently.
“My mother did a tremendous amount of work to get this place on the National Historic Register,” said Nella Ward of Ormond Beach, grand-niece of Dr. Rogers and daughter of McFall. “It’s changed around here considerably.”
The home of Dr. Rogers was built in 1878 by her father D.D. Rogers, one of the founders of the city, and Rogers saw patients there beginning in 1907.
The house was moved off the riverfront in 1919 when D.D. Rogers donated the house and the land to the city. The house remained boarded for a long time before being restored and returned to its original location on Beach Street.
On hand at the dedication ceremony was Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, the second female mayor in the city’s 127-year history.
“I remember very vividly the house of Dr. Rogers,” said Scarlett-Golden, a native Daytonan. “The home where she lived and worked is a symbol of the community. For me to have come as the second mayor to dedicate the house is awesome for me.”
What was once the dining room of the historic home is now crowded with souvenirs from the city’s welcome center. The upstairs bedrooms have been turned into offices for a downtown policing unit and the parlor is now office space.
Dr. Rogers’ office and waiting room are slated to be restored to original form with the use of photographs and memories of family members and former patients.
Said Rogers-Draper, “I’m just so happy to see it come to completion, and see it brought out and so magnificently recognized by the city.”