The spacious rooms and jig-sawed porches of this two-story Folk Victorian architecture example recall a time when large families made their homes near Historic Pensacola’s Seville Square. Although built for John and Kate Lear, they never lived in the home. Captain Benito Rocheblave owned and lived in the house for many years during the turn-of-the-century. During November and December, the home is decorated for Christmas and special Victorian Holiday Traditions Tours are given of the home, which typically serves as the final stop on the guided tour.
The Lear-Rocheblave House, built circa 1889 at 214 East Zaragoza Street, is a central element to the development and interpretation of Historic Pensacola Village for the visiting public. The house has transitioned through the years in order to meet interpretive needs and progress. Since 1988, a series of grant projects have prepared the structure for its continual evolution as a museum house. At the beginning, Historic Pensacola Preservation Board Director, John Daniels, and board trustees envisioned the Lear-Rocheblave House as a “Grandma’s Attic” type experience for museum visitors, evoking the nostalgic feelings of time past. However, the overall interpretive purpose focuses on the creation of a complete historic time line for visitors. The Lear-Rocheblave House has been a completing factor in this goal through the years.
In 1996, the Lear-Rochblave House was successfully launched as a 1920s boarding house, providing a contrast to the Victorian representation of the 1871 Clara Barkley Dorr House. The Dorr House acts as a foil for the 1805 Spanish Colonial Lavalle House. The year 1927 was chosen to guide the house plan, bringing Historic Pensacola Village’s interpretation to completion, from early Spanish Pensacola to the modern 20th century. The room arrangements and many individual objects included in the house were symbolic of the 1920s and the characteristic of Pensacola during this time. In 2005, the Lear-Rocheblave House moved into a new phase as a historic home, becoming a reflection of Pensacola life during the turn-of-the-20th century, as the University utilized the Dorr House and the Manual Barrios Cottage interpreted 1920s Pensacola.
The house design and interpretation will reflect life as the Benito Rocheblave family would have experienced it in late Victorian America. Visitors to the home will gain a better understanding of life in Pensacola during this time period of fascinating contradictions, human innovation, and change. Life was a struggle and adjustment, socially, culturally, and physically toward a new way of life ushered in by the call for rapid progress, reform, and technology. These struggles were the birth pains of our modern world, the closure of one era and the beginnings of another.
The architectural construction can be classified as a two-story wood frame, clapboard, and vernacular home with ornamental Queen Anne design elements.