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Charms of Leffingwell is set within the Mathews House in the heart of historic Ellenton, Florida. The Victorian house was built in 1905 by Brilla and Arthur Mathews. The Avenue that the house is located on (Leffingwell Avenue) was named after Hiram Leffingwell who donated the land to the Union Church along with a bell. Since its beginning over 125 years ago, the Union Church joined the Methodist Conference and became the Ellenton United Methodist Church which still sits across the street from Charms. The Mathews were faithful members of the Union Church and were gentleman farmers. Brilla and Arthur raised three daughters and one son in the charming Victorian home. Family members lived in the home until 1970.
By the early 1990’s the home was deteriorating, the property was condemned, and the site was being considered for use as a practice and training site for the local fire department. In 1992 the house was saved by a purchaser who intended to restore it to its original condition, however the restoration proved too daunting of a task to complete. In 2002 the home was sold again to Harry and Bobbie McGraw whose dedication and love of the house gave it a new beginning. Harry and Bobbie spent 4 years completely restoring the house and obtaining the proper zoning permits to open a tea room and antique shop. The McGraws opened and operated Charms of Leffingwell for over a decade before selling it to Judy and Mike Smith in 2015.
In 2007 a member of the Mathews family, Arthur and Brilla’s daughter Mary Martha Kaminski, returned to see the product of the McGraw’s hard work restoring the house. Her emotional visit was documented by the Herald Tribune. Before her visit to the house, Mary could not bare seeing the condition of her childhood home which suffered from rotting walls and an overgrown landscape. To her surprise the home she visited, on her 83rd birthday, was much like what she remembered from her childhood. Three generations of Mathews family members joined Mary for her visit and shared memories of the original home’s owner, Mary’s mother Brilla. Brilla was described as a hardworking, loving mother who would sing hymns while she worked around the house. She would bake pies and cool them on the window ledge in the afternoons. These warm memories described by Mary can still be felt by those who enter the enchanting Mathews house.