Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
December 29, 2020
Just before Christmas, the historic Lesesne House, probably the oldest surviving residential structure in Fernandina Beach, was finally sold after having been on and off the real estate market for the last two years. Located in the Fernandina Beach Historic District across Centre Street from the historic Nassau County Courthouse, the house was built before the Civil War by Dr. John Lesesne, who perished during that conflict. Trustees for Lesesne’s young daughter in 1868 sold the property to Judge John Friend, who moved to Fernandina from Ohio to settle war claims on behalf of the federal government.
The house has passed from one generation of the Friend family to the next until its recent sale took it out of the family.
The 2-story, double-galleried house was built on site from hand-hewn lumber. Its mortise and tenon construction made it an extremely strong structure, as evidenced by its surviving the Hurricane of 1898, the modern equivalent of a Category 5 storm.
Efforts by the local historic preservation community to purchase the property for use as a public building were not successful.
Nassau Trust LLC owns several other local propertieis, including: the Florida House Inn, the Green Turtle Tavern, The Bell House (former Beech Street Grille) and Down Under Restaurant. It has been reported that following improvements and repairs to the structure, the property will likely be used for private events.
For more information on the history of the Lesesne House and its role in Fernandina Beach history, click here.