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  • Brian Childress

Kingsley Planation - Jacksonvlle, Florida

Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there. It is located at the northern tip of Fort George Island at Fort George Inlet, and is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve managed by the U.S. National Park Service.


The plantation was originally 1,000 acres, most of which has been taken over by forest; the structures and grounds of the park now comprise approximately 60 acres. Evidence of Pre-Columbian Timucua life is on the island, as are the remains of a Spanish mission named San Juan del Puerto. Under British rule in 1765, a plantation was established that cycled through several owners while Florida was transferred back to Spain and then the United States. The longest span of ownership was under Kingsley and his family, a polygamous and multiracial household controlled by and resistant to the issues of race and slavery.

Free blacks and several private owners lived at the plantation until it was transferred to the State of Florida in 1955. It was acquired by the National Park Service in 1991. The most prominent features of Kingsley Plantation are the owner's house—a structure of architectural significance built probably between 1797 and 1798 that is cited as being the oldest surviving plantation house in the state - and an attached kitchen house, barn, and remains of 25 anthropologically valuable slave cabins that endured beyond the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865). The foundations of the house, kitchen, barn and the slave quarters were constructed of cement tabby, making them notably durable. Archeological evidence found in and around the slave cabins has given researchers insight into African traditions among slaves who had recently arrived in North America.

Coversations/Things we learned:

Kingsley Plantation will appeal to those who love the outdoors and history. The plantation is now operated by the National Parks Service who have done a great job maintaining it and adding historical information for visitor. The Visitor Center gift shop has a variety of books on the history of slavery in America, as well as first-person biographies that are simply heartbreaking to imagine.

We toured the remnants of the slave quarters trying to imagine how people endured and survived. The exhibits are some of the best interpretative experiences we’ve seen on this tragic historical subject. Most people wonder how anyone could have lived in that environment, it was gratifying to see actual photographs of Anna Kingley’s descendants living today all over the world. Kingsley Plantation was different than most Southern plantations in that an enslaved woman from Senegal, Anta, became the “first wife” of the plantation owner, and she and her children were emancipated. When Florida became an American state, the family immigrated to Haiti to escape the harsh new slavery and anti-miscegenation laws. It is a complicated story but in our opinions one well worth taking the time to at least try to understand.


The view from the back of the plantation house was amazing. We could imagine ships coming up and down the estuary, sails furling when they reached the docks. Our visit in December gave us a cool breeze off the water and blessedly few biting midges. If you visit at any other time of year, bring insect repellent.


We recommend 2-4 hours to fully understand the significance of this historic site.


Contact Information:

12713 Fort Caroline Road

Jacksonville , FL 32225


Phone: (904) 641-7155


https://www.nps.gov/timu/learn/historyculture/kp_visiting.htm



Kitchen House

 

Gallery of photos

Planters House

 

Gallery of photos



Gift Store & Former Hotel

 




Stable

 

Gallery of photos



Slave Quarters

 

Gallery of photos





Driver‘s Quarters

 



Garden

 



Well

 



Coastal Area & Plantation Grounds

 

Gallery of photos



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