By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ALEXANDRIA — While Madison County residents are flocking to the beach for summer vacations, certain Florida locals have determined that Alexandria is the perfect spot for a green getaway.
Surrounded by cornfields and open land, the family of Frank Zebedis prefers to relax in Small Town U.S.A.
“We would always get together for a week in the summer – I used to take them all to Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head,” said Frank, who oversaw the construction of facilities for several corporations before retirement. “But after the first vacation at the farm, they all said it was the greatest vacation they ever had. This is the fourth year we’ve done this.”
A family vacation home is not what he envisioned when he purchased the property. A successful house flipper, Frank bought the little house and five-and-a-half acres in foreclosure and desperate condition in December of 2009.
On his 11th distressed property, he planned to repair, rebuild and resell. He brought his daughter, Sue Long, resident of Palm Beach Gardens, to see his find, complete with thistles four feet high, stripped away siding, a stolen furnace and even missing woodwork. Her reaction was not what he had expected.
“She said, ‘Dad, this reminds me so much of going to visit grandma’s house,’” he recalled.
“She spent her summers on her grandmother’s farm and every year we had to drag her back to the city. I got home that day and told Marilyn (his wife) that I thought we may keep it.”
“Everything at home is so developed,” said Alexis Albright, Sue’s daughter, photographer and children’s director of a church in Tampa. “We don’t really have a yard, so our boys get to be real boys here. They get to catch frogs, skip stones, and eat apples off the trees. We get to go back to the good old days and enjoy God’s creation.”
Fish pond coming
Since the endeavor was Sue’s idea, she has pitched in with the preparations. Both in landscaping and decorating, she has left her mark.
“Sue really has a knack for designing,” said Frank. “She’s furnished the house.”
“Everything’s from Goodwill,” said Sue with a laugh. “Nothing is new. We turned sheets into curtains – it’s fun to make something out of nothing. We don’t want the house to be perfect.
We want people to be able to live and not worry about messing things up.”
Sue spends the bulk of her summer at the farm and the rest of the family visits the three-bedroom house when they can spare time. Her sister, Staci Vallance, lives in Fishers with her husband and three children. Her brother, Scott Zebedis, recently moved back to Anderson from Denver.
In addition to blood relatives, Sue has coaxed some of her friends from Florida to vacation in Alexandria. They enjoyed their time so much that they are returning.
“They just loved it,” said Sue. “It’s so relaxing. And everyone is so nice up here – it’s very different at home.”
Frank’s next step for the farm is the installation of a pond for fishing. Soon the boys will be able to catch their own dinner. A nearby garden was started by Frank for the kids to tend and till fresh veggies.
“This is the best investment I ever made because of the family involvement,” said Frank, who doesn’t miss his beach vacations. “I love having them all come here.”
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.