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Kingsley Plantation, Jacksonville

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Historic Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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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 (4.0 km2), most of which has been taken over by forest; the structures and grounds of the park now comprise approximately 60 acres (242,811.385 m2). 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.

Zephaniah Kingsley wrote a defense of slavery and the three-tier social system that acknowledged the rights of free people of color that existed in Florida under Spanish rule. Kingsley briefly served on the Florida Territorial Council, planning the transition when Florida was annexed by the United States.

Kingsley Plantation was not Kingsley's only or even his primary plantation. In 1836 he moved his entire family from Florida, after it was acquired by the US and Kingsley's free Blacks were unwanted, to a plantation called Mayorasgo de Koka, at the time in Haiti but from the 1840s in the Dominican Republic. In contrast with the Kingsley Plantation, little remains of Mayorasgo de Koka.
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Kingsley Plantation reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
717 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • What an experience! This is an eye-opening glimpse into a world I never could have imagined. It’s a small trek to get there (in a low car and a few potholes), but SO totally worth it. We popped in... 
    What an experience! This is an eye-opening glimpse into a world I never could have imagined. It’s a small trek to get there (in a low car and a few potholes), but SO totally worth it. We popped in...  more »
  • Found it kind of unexpectedly interesting is it's history etc. Found it fell into a "who would have thought" type of place 
    Found it kind of unexpectedly interesting is it's history etc. Found it fell into a "who would have thought" type of place  more »
Google
  • A beautiful plantation with nicely manicured grounds. The continuing preservation of the buildings and grounds was in progress at the time of my visit and not much was open to the public. But exploring the grounds provided information and evidence of life during those times.
  • Very nice with a lot of walking. Lots of reading. Amazingly beautiful but sad when you think about how humans were treated to have such a placem The main house was not open but the building that was the kitchen is open. The visitor center is very small with a few things for sale. Amazing old Florida drive to Plantation.

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