Photography by Justin DeMutiis
Lake Alfred’s Adams Estate aims to become a destination wedding spot — for Floridians and beyond.
By the time the Strang family decided to turn their grandparents’ house into a wedding venue, it had been sitting empty for years and in some amount of disrepair. Their grandmother had designed the home in 1942, and, after she passed, they were at a loss for what to do with it. One thing they knew: The property, including the surrounding acreage that had served the family’s citrus business, Gapway Grove Corporation, shouldn’t be sold for parts.
“We had a developer contact us wanting to buy the land and the house and wanting to tear the house down,” says Eve Strang Bass. “It was going to be a golf course or 4,000 tiny little ugly houses. We wouldn’t even think about that.”
Then, inspiration struck: Bass helped her daughter plan a wedding on the property, and the idea for Adams Estate as a wedding venue was born.
“When we decided to make it the wedding venue — just letting our imaginations run wild — we realized that there really isn’t a destination wedding spot locally,” Bass says.
The four siblings — Bud Strang of Winter Haven development firm Six/Ten, architect Max Strang, Gapway Grove President John Strang, and Eve — dreamt big, building cottages up the neighboring hill for guest accommodations (and occasional Airbnb rentals), renovating the boathouse to serve as a second venue on the property, and breaking ground for a commercial pool overlooking Lake Alfred, a spa, a conference space with extra lodging, and, eventually, a structure they’re calling Reynolds Hall, which will allow for indoor weddings of up to 150 people.
It seems they’ve thought of everything, though Bass admits her daughter’s wedding served as a kind of cheat sheet.
“I got to experience [the property] first-hand, thinking, ‘We need this’ and ‘We need that,’” she says. Once they decided to turn Adams Estate into a venue, one thing they definitely needed was a space for the bride and her bridesmaids to get ready for the big day. Accordingly, the whole second floor of the main home was converted into various suites for the bridal party to eat, hang out, and get their hair and makeup done. There’s even what they call a “quiet room,” with a bed for anyone to lie down if they’re feeling overwhelmed by the events of the day.
Outside, the team has created a small garden area for ceremonies, and a terrace where two large hickory trees once stood. (Bass can remember her grandfather paying her a penny for every nut she could pick up from the yard.) With its views of the lake, this area serves as a picturesque reception spot, but the whole property is fully customizable, with rooms in the house for buffets, cocktail hours, and even dinner tables for smaller weddings.
Bass, who recently sold her longtime Winter Haven business, The Shop, to be Adams Estate’s general manager full-time, says one of the best parts of the project has been getting to work with her brothers. And she thinks her grandmother would be proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish together.
“My grandmother was very family-oriented, but she was also a very good business woman,” Bass says. “I think she would be very happy to know how much joy there is out here. Because who doesn’t have a good time at a wedding?”