The letter came just as he was settling into his new home, and it’s helped fuel his curiosity about his house on Shine Avenue.
“When I bought the house – a week later a letter came in the mail,” Alex Corzo said. “When I came to open the letter and I saw who it was, it was the daughter of Buddy [Ebsen]’s sister.”
While many downtown homes have decades of history, the house Corzo bought on 21 N. Shine Ave. is unique. Beverly Hillbillies star Buddy Ebsen’s family lived there for years. Ebsen’s sister, Norma Albert moved into the home with Franklin Albert in 1943. Ebsen has been pictured at the house several times.
The woman who mailed Corzo was Hannah Jacobsen, the Alberts’ daughter. She didn’t know a new resident had moved in – that was chance. Jacobsen had visited the house before, being invited in by those who owned the home prior to Corzo.
Jacobsen grew up at 21 N. Shine Ave. and currently lives in California. The Alberts were the last relatives of Ebsen’s remaining in Orlando when they moved to California in 1986 according to an Orlando Sentinel article.
Corzo is 36, so Beverly Hillbillies was before his time. He can’t belt out the whole theme song on a whim like some can. He’s watched it, though. Keeping correspondence with a relative of Ebsen’s and learning about the history of the home through the buying process sparked his interest.
“That definitely helped fuel it because of what I learned when the house was listed and from the previous owners when I closed on the sale,” he said. “Then I get that letter. It was just one thing after the next which was kind of amazing because I really got into it.”
The Ebsen family has a strong connection to downtown Orlando. Franklin Albert had a park named after him (now closed) on Rosalind Avenue and Anderson Street. Ebsen’s former home on 9 S. Hyer Ave. was converted to a theater, the Bethea-Ebsen Center (now closed). While these monuments to the Ebsen family may fade away, the homes are being protected by citizens who are passionate about downtown Orlando history. Corzo said that Ebsen’s dedication to the downtown community during his time here inspires him.
“He was really part of this community,” he said. “He gave back a lot to this community, which is important to me because I love this community. I love downtown and what it stands for.”
The house is historic. It was built in 1915 and boasts a centennial plaque out front, but Corzo integrates new technology into his home, giving the space a feel of modern mixed with antique. Skeleton keys still open the French doors (which are original to the house) to the porch. Next to the French doors is a Ring doorbell that connects to his smartphone to look at visitors at the front door.
Corzo tries to keep the original feel of the home intact, refinishing the original hardwood floors and revealing the original brick from the fireplace by stripping the white paint from it. On the wall upstairs, he framed pictures of the house and copies of original documents that are nearly 100 years old.
He also incorporates other antiques not original to the home throughout the house. There’s a Victrola in the living room that he found at an antique store in Georgia and a two-piece antique telephone is behind the kitchen. He said it could be easily set up, but who uses a landline anymore?