To the casual visitor, the Old Willis Dairy is a walk back in time to a bygone era of quaint, simple living. But to Frank and Peper Willis, the Dairy is simply “home.” Frank Willis’ grandparents settled on the property in the 1930s, and his grandmother Emma Kate lived there for decades until age 102. The dairy was a premier business in the North Florida region, and it remained in operation as cornerstone of the area’s agricultural economy until the 1970s. Today, the historic dairy barn features renovations and additions that indicate an extraordinary commitment to family history, sustainable building, and historic preservation.
The Willises saved and reused all they could from “Nana’s house” and the old barn. During the renovation, original building materials were salvaged and utilized in the renovation as much as possible to retain the historic character of the property. Even the landscape features heirlooms and native species. Further enhancing the “green-ness” of the property’s restoration, the old house was upgraded with modern sustainable technologies. The Old Willis Dairy, a masterpiece of North Florida’s heritage, is truly a labor of love.
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