The best Christmas ornaments carry a little history. Zonta Club of Melbourne’s ornaments tell the history of the Space Coast, one building at a time.

The popular collection, which has added a new ornament each year since 1999, encompass an eclectic assortment of Brevard landmarks, including Annie the Dragon, Ashley’s Restaurant in Rockledge, the historic Green Gables, the Cocoa Village Playhouse, Del’s Freez ice cream shop, Melbourne’s 1900 Building, the Kennedy Space Center’s Rocket Garden, and more, all immortalized in miniature by Hestia Creations of Marblehead, MA.

Each ornament showcases a unique piece of Space Coast history. This year’s ornament, Melbourne’s Little Red Schoolhouse, highlights a shed-like bright red structure built by John Goode in 1883 at his property near the river. It is the area’s oldest surviving schoolhouse.

Surprisingly mobile, it was moved from its original location to the grounds of Melbourne Elementary and High School on New Haven Avenue sometime in the 1940s, only to be relocated again in the 1970s, this time to its current site at the entrance of Florida Tech’s Botanical Garden. The tiny school was segregated, with white children attending in the morning and black youngsters in the afternoon.

The decorations are a hard-working bunch. In addition to their holiday appeal and local history lesson value, the little ornaments also serve as fundraiser to help support the Zonta Clubs of Melbourne’s scholarships and other local community programs that improve the lives of women. As if that was not enough, they also serve to raise awareness of Zonta’s fight against human trafficking.

“It gives us the capacity to spread the word about Zonta,” says club member Sandy Michelson.

Michelson, who came up with the ornament idea way back in the day, is still tasked to unearth suitable subjects in a selection process best described as relaxed. “I went around Brevard County one windy day in January to take photos of historical options for club members to consider,” she said. “They selected the Schoolhouse! Being bright was a factor, I believe.”

The 3 1⁄2’ ornaments retail for $25, or $30 with their own stand. Each piece is handcrafted and hand-painted. The entire collection is available at Meehan’s Office Products in downtown Melbourne, and through the Zonta website at www.zontaspacecoast.org. They make perfect stuffing stuffers for both present and previous residents or for friends and relatives who have visited the area. Zonta will ship the ornaments. To see a selection of available ornaments, online at www.zontaspacecoast.org.

Maria Sonnenberg
professor at Florida Institute of Technology | msonnenb32904@yahoo.com

Maria is a prolific writer and most excellent proofer for various Space Coast publications and an adjunct professor at Florida Institute of Technology’s Nathan M. Bisk College of Business. When not writing, teaching or traveling, she can be found waging a one-woman war against her lawn and futilely attempting to maintain order among the chaos of a pack of extremely clueless wirehair dachshunds and an angst-driven basset hound.