The Peppers family, one of the first black families in the city, made memories there. Now a new family will make some of their own.
WEST PALM BEACH — The white house, which sits across from the railroad tracks near West Palm Beach’s Pleasant City neighborhood, has seen plenty in its nearly 90 years of existence.
Built around 1930, it hosted a wedding, birthday parties and Zenetta Miller, now 68, playing with her siblings and neighbors as she grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.
“It was community. Everybody knew everybody,” she said. “All the families took care of the children. If somebody didn’t have food, everybody ate.”
She and her sister Constance Peppers Ward, 70, recalled the watchful gaze of their neighbor, Miss Alice, who would tell on them if they misbehaved. And they remembered the ambitious idea to bury money in the front yard hoping it would grow more cash because of the phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Those memories are being preserved. The city of West Palm Beach renovated the home as part of a historic preservation effort.
It was once owned by educator Inez Peppers Lovett and her husband Charlie Lovett and stayed in the family for generations. The Peppers family, one of the first black families in West Palm Beach, made memories there, but now a new family will make some of their own.
The city sold it to Tremesa Jackson, who drives school buses for Palm Beach County and her husband Leonard, a military veteran who works for a Boca Raton footwear company. The pair met in Texas, where Tremesa is from, while Leonard was stationed at Fort Hood.
They will live in the home with their two children, Tre-Nise, 18, Leonard II, 15.
Tremesa said from the moment she stepped foot inside the historic house, she knew she wanted to live there.
“When I walked in, it felt like home,” she said.
It seemed like fate that the first-time home buyers came across the listing online, but before that, their housing journey had its complications.
She said the owner of one house they lived in sold it without telling them. She said one day a woman showed up on her porch and said, “we’re the new owners.”
They also overcame personal challenges. Leonard, while he was dating Tremesa, served in Operation Desert Storm, a Gulf War mission to remove Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait.
“You don’t know what’s going on over there. You don’t know if you’re going to get him back,” Tremesa said.
She added that upon his return, he had to re-adjust to civilian life and find his place in the family again. Years later, they faced more complications with the birth of Tre-Nise.
“Even though she’s 18, she functions like a 10-year-old because she had a brain bleed when she was born,” Tremesa said as she carried a picture of Tre-Nise at birth, small and strapped to medical equipment. She added that on three occasions Tre-Nise’s heart stopped beating and she stopped breathing, but she survived.
Tremesa said her daughter’s special needs can be challenging for the family at times, but Tre-Nise appeared all smiles while the family visited their future home. As they exited the house following the renovation’s unveiling, her father and brother lifted her wheelchair down the front steps.
The Jacksons planned to move into the house sometime next week or next weekend, Tremesa said Tuesday. She said that her husband was excited to turn one of the rooms into a “man cave,” especially for watching football. Although she’s also a football fan, she looked forward to reading books far from the man cave.
Tremesa said moving into a home that they owned was “a long time coming.”
“I’m thanking God for it,” she said.