“My neighbors keep telling me about the Beeman Bubblegum House in my neighborhood. It looks like an old dollhouse in Audubon Park. What’s the story behind this house? Thanks for
all you do!” – Jenny
Edwin Beeman, the “Chewing Gum King” was born in LaGrange, Ohio to Julius and Margaret Beeman. He studied medicine and joined his father in the pharmacy business after college and specialized his practice in digestive orders. After applying the use of pepsin, an extract from pig stomachs, to relieve indigestion in his patients, he moved to Cleveland in 1883 to manufacture it on a large scale.
It wasn’t until 1890 when an employee of Beeman’s suggested that he add pepsin to chewing gum, which led to his founding “Beeman’s Pepsin Gum” in 1891. It’s said that pepsin sales were immediately eclipsed by the gum, and in 1898 they sold $1,449 of pepsin to $408,685 of gum.
Beeman sold the company to American Chicle Co. in 1899 when it became mass produced and hit the larger American market. Beemans Gum became even more popular during the first World War, as it was before the roll-out of pressurized cabins and it helped to lessen pressure in the inner ear during take-off. Pilots like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughs were said to never fly without a pack on their person.
Mass production finally stopped in the late 70s due to poor sales, which could have been attributed to their ad campaigns (see below). But don’t worry, it’s still being made in limited editions spurts by Cadbury Adams but it doesn’t have any pepsin in it anymore.
Edwin’s son, Edwin, inherited the family gum fortune and lived on a family-owned estate on the southeastern shore of Lake Sue in what is now known as Beeman Park. The three-story main house, located at 2308 Lake Sue Drive [GMap], was built in 1890 in the shingle style, which borrows heavily from Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Richardsonian Romanesque styles of the day.
Edwin Jr. (not his official name) purchased the San Juan Hotel in 1893 and was the president of Orlando Bank and Trust Co.
It’s rumored that there was a period of time when the Beeman home operated as a bordello and casino for Winter Park and Orlando elite. But something must have happened, as the six bed and five bath home served as the Ann Lisbeth Seese boarding school from the 1930s through 1971 as a private boarding school.
The Orange County Regional History Center provided Bungalower with an archived interview with a former resident of the boarding school who believed it was haunted by the spirit of “a young woman in a party dress.” He said children would hear footsteps on the back stairs and run screaming to Miss Seese’s bed.
Editor’s Note: The “Beeman Bubblegum” home is not to be confused with this other sweet spot in Orlando, the Sweet Escape luxury vacation rental (Website). Also, Edwin Jr. (again, not his official name) is buried in the beautiful, historic Greenwood Cemetery.
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