Kingsley Plantation
The historic plantation house
was built by slaves in 1798
and is the oldest in the state.
Slave Cabin
The slave cabins of the farm
were arranged in a large
semi-circle to the rear of the
main or "big" house.
Kingsley Plantation Historic Site - Fort George Island, Florida - Kingsley Plantation, Florida - Kingsley Plantation, Florida
Kingsley Plantation House
The oldest plantation house in Florida is preserved
and interpreted by the National Park Service as part
of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
Florida's Oldest Plantation Home
Built by slaves in 1798 as the centerpiece of
a massive plantation on
Fort George Island,
the Kingsley Plantation house is the oldest
plantation house in Florida.

Florida was then a Spanish colony and the
plantation was symbolic of many such that
developed in the extreme northeast corner of
the future state. American planters came
across the border from Georgia looking for
rich lands where they could grow cotton,
tobacco, sugar cane, corn and other crops.

A unique structure, the Kingsley Plantation
House actually shows that considerable
thought went into its design and construction.
Built with numerous angles and numerous
windows, the house was designed so that
windows could be opened in all directions to
let breezes blow through to bring comfort to
the residents inside.

The front of the home faces the Fort George
River, a common feature of many plantation
houses. The river, not the road, was then the
focal point of the farm and the primary route
of transportation and communication for the
farm. Schooners and barges were loaded
there with Sea Island cotton and other crops
for transport to market.

In 1814 the plantation became the home of
Zephaniah Kingsley and his African wife,
Anta (Anna) Madgigine Jai. A planter who
came to Florida in 1803, Kingsley married
Anna after purchasing her as a slave in Cuba
in 1806. He legally freed both her and their
children in 1811.

The Kingsley family prospered under
Florida's Spanish government. Anna was her
husband's partner in the operation of the
farm and she also owned land and slaves of
her own.

Things changed in 1821 when the United
States gained possession of Florida. Laws
were implemented greatly restricting the
activities of both slaves and free blacks.
Zephaniah Kingsley fought against such
laws. Despite the fact that he owned slaves,
he was an early proponent of treating people
according to their abilities, not their color.

He debated with lawmakers over the civil
liberties of free blacks and even wrote a
major treatise on the subject. By the 1830s,
however, the situation became intolerable for
the Kingsleys and they decided to leave the

Giving 50 of his slaves their legal freedom,
Zephaniah Kingsley relocated them along
with Anna and their two sons to Haiti, which
had become a free black republic following a
bloody revolution.  He died in 1843, but was
long survived by Anna who eventually came
back to Florida where she died in the 1870s.

The Kingsley Plantation is now maintained
by the National Park Service as part of the
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
The park preserves not only the main house
and kitchen, but thousands of acres that
were once part of Zephaniah and Anna
Kingsley's farm.

Dotting the landscape can be seen many
features of the plantation, including an
original barn, the waterfront, a garden where
samples of Sea Island cotton, indigo and
other crops can be seen and the ruins of the
slave cabins.

The slave quarters of the farm, one of which
has been restored, were actually not very
different than the homes lived in by most
average Floridians of the time. Each had two
rooms, one of which included a fireplace for
cooking and heat, while the other served as a

The cabins are uniquely arranged in a long
semicircle, similar to the design of many
African villages. Visitors actually approach
the house via the slave cabins and barn,
since the front of the home faced toward the

Kingsley Plantation is located off Heckscher
Drive (Highway A1A) north of Jacksonville. It
is open seven days a week from 9 to 5. There
is no charge to visit the historic site.
click here to read the official brochure.
Slave Cabin Ruins
The ruins of cabins that once
housed the slaves of Kingsley
Plantation can still be seen.
Back of the Kingsley House
Visitors approach from the
rear of the house The nearest
building was the kitchen.
Plantation Waterfront
The Kingsley Plantation faced
the waterfront, which was
then a vital transportation
route for commerce.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.