Kingsley Plantation offers unique perspective on troubled time

Tour the Town


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Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville was built in 1797 or 1798 and named after owner, shipping magnate and slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley.

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In the past, I have written a number of informational stories about places to visit in the northeast corner of Florida for Senior Life and here is one more gem.

Your visit to the Kingsley Plantation will give you a dramatic insight into the lives of wealthy plantation owners and the harsh living conditions of their slaves hundreds of years ago. Turn the clock back in time as you walk through the spacious grounds of this historic sight that has been completely restored and now administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Your self-guided tour starts at the entrance of this 60-acre lavish plantation that is located directly on the beautiful Fort George River. At your first stop, view and enter the ruins of more than two dozen tiny original slave quarters that were built more than 250 years ago. You’ll be drained by the horrible living conditions provided for these poor families.

There were more than 60 to 80 enslaved men, women and children occupying these slave quarters. Each home had a fireplace for a kitchen and dining area plus a small adjoining room where they all slept. They worked in the fields and the lucky ones did chores such as housework, carpentry, gardening, blacksmith work and construction work to build shelters.

Your next stop is the restored barn used as storage, housing for animals and, sadly, housing for slaves.

Adjacent to the barn, livestock was raised for food for the slaves and their owners.

The restored interpretive garden provides you with a look at the plantation’s cash crops such as cotton, indigo and sugarcane. Fruit and vegetables were grown here for consumption.

The spacious plantation owner’s house faces the Fort George River. Most plantation homes in those times faced rivers to provide the cheapest and easiest way of transportation for crops, supplies and people. The house was built in 1798 and is the oldest plantation house still standing in Florida. The two-story Kingsley House is completely restored and features a full basement and a widow’s walk on the roof.

There is a neat gift shop in a 1920s building adjacent to the Plantation buildings.

The Kingsley Plantation, part of the Indian Timucuan Preserve, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. There is no admission fee. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is located at 11676 Palmetto Avenue in Jacksonville. For information, call 904-251-3537.

Driving to the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island is a three-hour drive from Brevard County.

Take I-95 North to exit 337. This is I-295. Go northeast on I-295 to exit 42, Route 105.

Route 105 East is a scenic road and you will pass the famous St. Mary’s Ferry.

The entrance for the Kingsley Plantation is on your left.

As a treat, share and enjoy this educational day trip with your family and dear friends.