Historic Homes of Gainesville, Florida

Dudley Farm Historic State Park

A one-of-a-kind 19th-century working farmstead featuring a visitor center, picnic area, and self-guided tour of the 18 historic structures that make up an authentic (not reproduction) farm complex located on 325 of the original 640 acres the Dudleys owned. Staff and volunteers in authentic farm clothing carry on chores and activities much the same as they were in the late 1800s. Livestock includes mules, cracker cows, horses, turkeys, and Barred Rock chickens. Experience the harvesting, grinding, boiling, and bottling of sugar cane in the Fall. Feed the chickens and sit on the back porch as you watch time go by.

Don’t Miss — Living history working pioneer farm, Visitor Center exhibits, nature trail, picnic area

Individual Visitors:
Self-guided tours are offered Wed. – Sun.
from 9am – 4pm
Admission: $4 / vehicle

Group Tours:
A. Gardens
B. History
C. Old Homestead
D. Farmstead

Area Historic Highlights:
Jonesville Cemetery
Downtown Newberry
Newberry Little Red Schoolhouse —
M-F 8am – 5pm, Downtown High Springs

18730 W. Newberry Rd.
Newberry, FL 32669
(352) 472-1142

Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation

One of the oldest houses in Alachua County, the Historic Haile Homestead was the home of Thomas Evans Haile and his family. The Hailes came here from Camden, South Carolina in 1854 to establish a 1,500-acre Sea Island Cotton plantation which they named Kanapaha. Enslaved black craftsmen completed the 6,200 square-foot manse in 1856. The Homestead later became the site of house parties attended by some of Gainesville’s most distinguished citizens. The Hailes had the unusual habit of writing on the walls; altogether over 12,500 words. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Homestead is one of the few remaining homesteads built by Sea Island cotton planters in this part of Florida.

Don’t Miss — “Talking Walls” – over 12,500 words written on the walls by family and friends, and the exhibit on Enslaved Builders of the Plantation

Individual Visitors:
Open Saturday
10am – 2pm and
Sunday 12 noon to 4pm
Admission: $5 adults, under 12 free; open for tours during the week by special appointment

Group Tours:
“Talking Walls” Tour can be arranged in advance, ample parking for buses

Area Historic Highlights:
Archer Railroad Depot, Kanapaha Presbyterian
Church and Cemetery in Arredondo, Kanapaha
Botanical Gardens

8500 SW Archer Road
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 336-9096

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

This park preserves the old Cross Creek farm where Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, lived and wrote, creating universal stories from the lives and landscapes of backwoods Florida. Her works include The Yearling and Cross Creek. The park includes a historic farm, barn, tenant house, farmyard, grove, garden, woods, and trails. The park is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm, with guided walks offered periodically.

Don’t Miss — Historic home and farmyard, garden, grove, chickens and ducks, two fifteen-minute walking trails

18700 S. CR 325
Cross Creek, FL 32640
(352) 466-3672

Individual Visitors:
Tours are offered October through July, every Thursday through Sunday at 10am, 11am and 1, 2, 3, and 4pm; except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Group Tours:
A. Marjorie Rawlings’ Life and Times
B. Literary Tour
C. African American History

Area Historic Highlights:
The adjacent county park, which has a boat ramp, playground, and picnic facilities, is the site where MKR kept her milk cow. Both historic Evinston and Micanopy are on the scenic highway route from Gainesville to Cross Creek, along with Paynes Prairie State Preserve.

The Matheson House

Built in 1867 by South Carolina emigrant James Matheson, the Matheson House sits on a small rise facing downtown Gainesville. Matheson, a merchant, and his wife Florida lived in the house for nearly 50 years; son Christopher (a 7-term Gainesville mayor) owned the house with his wife until their deaths. A unique blend of South Carolina plantation and Classic Revival raised cottage architecture, the house has Gothic decorative elements and ceiling-to-ground porch columns, which are uncommon in Florida. Inside, two generations of family furnishings help tell Matheson’s story and that of Gainesville itself.

Don’t Miss — Adjacent Alachua County history museum, native plant garden on-site, antique tool collection

Individual Visitors:
Open by appointment. Special events include an annual historic holiday homes tour, featuring the Matheson House and other nearby historic houses.

Group Tours:
A. Refreshments on the front porch
B. Walking tour of the neighborhood
Contact Ex. Director for group tours

Area Historic Highlights:
The House is on the edge of two historic districts with lovely Victorian mansions and “Cracker” cottages. Drive through the heart of the city to see the Hippodrome State Theater (the 1911 Post Office) and Gainesville’s historic downtown.

The House is located behind the
Alachua County Historic Trust:
Matheson Museum, Inc.
513 E. University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 378-2280

Morningside Nature Center – Living History Farm

Morningside’s Living History Farm is a ten-acre re-creation of a single-family rural holding in the year 1870. The Farm centers on the McCarrolls, an Alachua County Irish immigrant family who built the oldest of the structures: Hogan’s Cabin. The farm includes the 1840s cabin, 1900’s board and batten kitchen, 1880’s twin-crib barn, Half-Moon one-room schoolhouse, reproduction out-buildings, heirloom garden and field crop areas, and live heritage breed farm animals. You can step into the life of an 1870s family during special events and programs.

Don’t Miss — Historic farm structures from North Florida, heirloom garden and heritage breed animals, special events and historic interpreters, Morningside’s
5 miles of nature trails

Individual Visitors:
The Farm is open every day from 9am to 5pm, with live interpretive experiences offered every Saturday, September through May.

Special Events include the Cane Boil every Winter and the Farm and Forest Festival every Spring.

Group Tours:
A. Farm walking tour with refreshments
B. Traditional craft workshops
C. Hands-on farm experience tours
D. Tours tailored to your group’s interests
Contact Program Coordinator for
group tours

Area Historic Highlights:
As you drive toward downtown, you pass the Sweetwater Branch Inn and other large historic homes that were once on the “edge” of town!

3540 E. University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 334-2170

The Thomas Center

The Thomas Center began its rich life in 1910 as Sunkist Villa, luxurious home of Major William Reuben Thomas and his family. When his children were entering adulthood he added a large wing, converted parts of the house to public rooms and opened Hotel Thomas in 1928. In 1967, its location obsolete, the building became a community college for 7 years. Though slated for demolition in the ‘70s, a group of concerned citizens inspired the city to buy it and restore it to its hotel period. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Since 1979 it has served as both city offices and a cultural center.

Don’t Miss — Quintessential Florida boom period Mediterranean Revival-style architecture, beautiful gardens, art galleries, 1920’s period rooms, displays and exhibits of local history, the Thomas family, Hotel Thomas and its era, performance space, children’s outdoor theater, meeting rooms, offices of Gainesville’s Division of Cultural Affairs

Individual Visitors:
The Thomas Center is open Mon-Fri
8am-5pm, and
Sat-Sun 1-4pm

Group Tours:
A. Knowledgeable docent in 1920’s attire
B. 4-minute film
C. Brochures and floor plans for self-guided tours
D. Picnic areas in the gardens
E. Maps for self-guided tours of the surrounding

Historic District
Contact Coordinator of Interpretive Programs for group tours (Thomas Center Associates, Inc.)

Area Historic Highlights:
The Thomas Center is located within the Northeast Historic District.


  1. Dudley Farm Historic State Park
    18730 W. Newberry Rd
    Newberry, Florida 32669
  2. Historic Haile
    8500 S.W. Archer Rd
    Gainesville, Florida 32608
  3. Marjorie Kinnan
    Rawlings Historic
    State Park
    18700 S. CR 325
    Cross Creek, Florida 32640
  4. Matheson House
    513 E. University Ave
    Gainesville, Florida 32601
  5. Morningside
    Nature Center Living
    History Farm
    3540 E. University Ave
    Gainesville, Florida 32641
  6. The Thomas Center
    302 N.E. 6th Ave
    Gainesville, Florida 32601

Other Sites of Interest

Florida Museum of Natural History

University of Florida Cultural Plaza
SW 34th Street and Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611-2710
(352) 846-2000 www.flmnh.ufl.edu

The Florida Museum of Natural History is the state’s official natural history museum. With more than 20 million specimens, the Florida Museum is the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. This 55,000-square-foot museum houses exhibits and public education programs, the newest addition being the Butterfly Rainforest.

Devil’s Millhopper State Geological Site

4732 Millhopper Road
Gainesville, Florida 32653
(352) 955-2008 www.floridastateparks.org/devilsmillhopper

This huge sinkhole was formed when an underground cavern roof collapsed, creating a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep. Small streams tumble down the steep slopes of the sink, disappearing through crevices at the bottom. The lush growth of plants and many of the animals of the park are similar to those of the Appalachian Mountains region. The sinkhole may be explored from the boardwalks and stairways or from the 4-foot wide nature trail that follows the rim.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

4700 SW 58th Dr.
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 372-4981 www.kanapaha.org

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a 62-acre facility comprised of 16 major collections visually accessible from a 1½ mile paved walkway. These include the state’s largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast.

Paynes Prairie State Preserve

100 Savannah Blvd.
Micanopy, Florida 32667
(352) 466-3397 www.floridastateparks.org/paynesprairie

Boat, camp, hike, bird watch, fish, and picnic on this 20,000-acre wildlife sanctuary – a popular destination for nature lovers. With ponds and 3 lakes, Paynes Prairie is a wintering area for many migratory birds, and home to many Florida alligators, herds of wild horses, and American Bison

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