Sunbright Inn Now Taking Reservations in DeFuniak Springs

Nov 1, 2023 | Businesses, Communities, DeFuniak Springs, Walton & Beyond

Updated image of Sunbright Inn, October 17, 2023

By Wendy O. Dixon

Patrick (Pat) O’Neill has put his 30 years of construction expertise into various projects in Walton County. He built Camp Gulf RV Park in Miramar Beach. With his children, Nelson, Kaylynn and Maggie, he built Twin Lakes Camp Resort, which won the Best Small Park in Florida Award this year. And with the help of others, the O’Neill family built South Walton Church, which opened May 1, 2022.

For the last two years, Pat’s focus has been on the Sunbright Inn. Located at 30 Live Oak Avenue in historic DeFuniak Springs, the inn is the labor of love for Pat and his children, who have completely renovated the oldest house in the county. “Our intention in design is to balance the merger of the past and the present,” Pat says. “We wanted to embrace the history, but not at the expense of modern comfort and modern luxury. Each of the rooms has independent Daikin ducted high-efficiency air conditioning units, which obviously were not available for comfort 137 years ago.” The decor includes original fireplace mantles, two-inch hickory plank flooring, Victorian-era chandeliers and furniture, and wallpaper and ornamentation.

The house has had many owners over the years, most notably former Florida Governor Sydney Catts. Some locals affectionally refer to the house as the Catts’ House. “Like with many of the external features of the house, we wanted to go back to the original representation, like the name Sunbright, given by the builders Mr. & Mrs. James T. Sherman,” Pat says.

About the Rooms
In honor of the governor’s tenancy, Sunbright named one of the first-floor rooms The Governor’s Suite. It has the only original brick fireplace. This room is in the location of the original kitchen and the origin of the historic fire from the 1930s.

Keeping with the theme of balancing the past and present is the bathtub in The Governor’s Suite. “We still have the old metal tub Catts put into the house, however we felt the comfort of a modern tub that is larger and holds hot water longer would be a better fit,” Pat explains. “This room has a king bed and a queen bed in a separate room with a shared pass-through bathroom that includes a shower, as well as the tub in front of the bay window.”

The Magnolia Room also pays tribute to the old days. Located on the first floor to the south, this room is adorned with a large magnolia flower painting that was made in honor of the inn reopening. “The area outside the house to the south and east used to be a large Magnolia grove,” Pat says.

In the town’s early days, Highway 331 did not exist. So the main mode of transportation into DeFuniak Springs was the train, which is the theme of the third first-floor room to the north facing the train tracks. “The L&N Room pays tribute to the role trains played in the birth and growth of DeFuniak Springs,” Pat adds. “We have located an original train car jack that has been converted into a lamp.”

Check back with us on for updates and future articles on Sunbright Inn.

Join Sunbright Inn’s mailing list at, where you’ll get updates on tours and the launch of their website. 

Now accepting reservations for dates from November 21,2023 and beyond. Make your reservations at


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