|Willis House in Greenwood, Florida|
Please click here to see the full list as it is unveiled.
Surrounded by beautiful live oaks, this much beloved home faces Fort Road in Greenwood. While many mistake it for an antebellum home, the house was completed by Dr. and Mrs. R.A. Willis in 1917 and will be 100 years old in three years.
|Mrs. R.A. "Ma Lizzy Willis and her home|
State Archives of Florida/Memory Collection
The house was surrounded by numerous other structures, including a smokehouse, chicken coop, barns, servants' quarters and more. One unique feature was its ice house, where blocks of ice were stored. Although Dr. John Gorrie had invented artificial refrigeration more than 70 years before the Willis House was built, it took time for it to become commonplace in Florida. The earliest "refrigerators" were iceboxes in which perishables were preserved using cool air from actual blocks of ice. The ice house provided a cool place where the blocks could be stored to provide a steady source of ice for the house's icebox.
|The Willis House in Greenwood|
In 1923, while serving as health inspector for Florida's prisons, he spoke up about the treatment of sick and injured inmates:
Dr. R.A. Willis of Greenwood, Fla., who is elected by the board of commissioners of state institutions to visit convict camps and inspect them as to sanitary arrangement and the physical condition of the men has told me repeatedly that he had visited camps and ordered men to be sent here [i.e. Raiford] for hospital treatment and on his next visit, about thirty days later, would find these same men still at the road camp. - J.S. Blitch, Superintendent of State Prison Farm at Raiford, May 3, 1923.
The willingness of men like Dr. Willis to speak up gradually led to improvement in conditions for those held in state institutions across Florida.
The Willis House today is framed by majestic oaks and giant azaleas. As of this writing, it is for sale.