Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Gamble Plantation

We visited the The Gamble Plantation Historic State Park Ellenton. The Gamble mansion is the only surviving antebellum plantation house in South Florida. The house was the home of Major Robert Gamble. The grounds were an extensive sugar plantation. The house is one of the only surviving tabby block constructions. Tabby is made from crushed seashells and lime. It was built around 1840.

The heat and humidity in Florida takes a toll on buildings, furniture, and textiles. They eventually decompose. The house is being renovated to prevent further deterioration. The Florida Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy bought the mansion in 1925 to prevent it from being demolished. The Gamble Plantation's tie to Civil War history is that the former Secretary of State of the Confederacy, Judah P. Benjamin, sought refuge here after the war. He is an interesting character. Benjamin was born a British Citizen in the West Indies. He attended Yale, was a lawyer in Louisiana, and became the second Jewish U.S. Senator. After fleeing the U.S. he became a barrister in England and Queen's Counsel.

Some of the floors, like in this hallway, had floor coverings made of varnished sail cloth. The decorative patterns were painted using stencils. It was a precursor to linoleum type coverings.

The original contents of the house deteriorated long ago. Replacement furnishings styles are from between the years 1840-1857. This shelf reminds of one at Grandma Apple's house.

Portrait of George Washington and South Carolina Confederate Battle Flag on the wall of the office.

The office.

The workroom.

The Gamble Plantation was one of the first sugar plantations to use steam powered machines. There were 200 slaves working the plantation.

There was another house on the grounds from the late 1800's called The Patterson House, but we didn't get a chance to tour it. They also had a festival with craft booths and food. There was a lot to see, and we'll probably go back some time.

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