Dunlawton's new metal roof is meant to protect stonework and machinery. But it also makes an important point. Though not an exact replica of the wooden roof that protected it, this shelter reminds us that a large, enclosed factory once stood here.
Dunlawton's combustible structures burned in the 1830's when Seminoles sacked the Anderson plantation. That meant the next owner had to cover and important space. "The frame of the sugar house is nearly ready for raising," John Marshall wrote in an 1849 progress report to his son. "We are now framing the roof, and I will try to have the engine room shingled in a few weeks."
Marshall's finished building measured nearly 180 feet in length, with interior columns helping to support the non-trussed roof. This big structure stood for decades, finally collapsing about 1900. What remained (after salvagers had done their work) was a curious site with machinery and stone ruins sitting out in the open.
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More than thirty years after its sugar-making days, Dunlawton's sturdy building probably was used in cattle ranching and farming. While old photographs often show north views of the structure, park visitors now approach the ruins from the south.
Photo courtesy of the Port Orange Historical Trust/Harold and Priscilla Cardwell.
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Decades of Florida weather finally brought down Dunlawton's shingled roof. In time, people forgot about the site's frame building.
Early twentieth-century photo by S. Shear, courtesy of the Halifax Historical Museum, Daytona Beach.
Special thanks to preservation architect Herschel E. Shepard, Jr. - a student of Dunlawton who long advocated sheltering its resources.