George Balzer Walter, Sr. was born in France in 1832, and by 1850, George had immigrated to the United States. In 1857, he married a young woman named Elizabeth, and they moved to Tennessee, where they had a son they named Forest Lee Walter. After a short time in Tennessee, Geoge, Elizabeth, and Forest left to make a new home in North Florida in a small but vibrant rural community in Suwannee County. They bought a plot of land along the railroad tracks where the Pensacola-Georgia trains ran and in 1895, built this house.

A Showpiece is Built
When George had this home built, he spared no expense on his homeplace along the railroad that would become a showpiece of the town. The 3,100 square foot ‘Carpenter Classic’ style home has a four-square plan with a central entry hall and was likely built by a local craftsman. The home has Victorian Revival ornamentation and its showiest feature is the Chippendale Balustrades along the porches on both levels of the front facade. The upstairs has four large bedrooms, each with wall vents for wood-burning stoves. According to one local legend, the staircases and balustrades were built by German carpenters who traveled around working on home-building sites and signed their names on the bottom of the stairs. In the early years, the home didn’t have indoor plumbing so the family and guests used an outhouse in the back. Also common during this era, cooking was done in a detached cottage behind the house to prevent fires from spreading.

The Next Generation of the Walter Family
After Elizabeth passed away in 1907 and George in 1921, their son Forest lived in the home with his wife, Lora Ophelia, where they raised a son, George Walter. In 1928, George married a woman named Della and they ran three stores in town that were groceries stores and filling stations. They also had a grape vineyard in the backyard and George would make wine that he sold to passersby on Highway 90, which used to run behind the home. In the 1960s, the home was updated with indoor plumbing and its first bathroom.

George and Della stayed in the home with his mother Lora until she died in 1978. At this point, Della and George moved out of the home because Della believed that her mother-in-law haunted the home. Della died in 1978 and when George passed away in 1991, they left no children so the home and his worldly belongings were left to his niece and nephew, Ruth and Eddie Jo.

Vandals & Thieves at the Walter House
The home sat empty for many years which unfortunately attracted vandals who caused damage to interior fixtures. But the most significant loss came on a fateful day that is remembered by many locals. According to the story, one day when someone pulled up to the unoccupied Walter House with a Uhaul and loaded antiques and furnishings into the truck, and pulled away. The thieves were never caught.

A New Chapter Begins
In 1992, Ruth and Eddie Jo sold the home, and in 2006, it changed hands again. At one point, a couple from California purchased the home with plans to restore it, but that stalled when one of them fell ill. The home was listed on the market in 2012 and then again in 2017 but was finally purchased in 2020! According to an instagram account, work is underway to bring this old home back to life and I look forward to returning one day to see what she looks like with the care she deserves.