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The Kingsley Plantation, Fort George Island, Florida

Step into a tumultuous time and place in Florida’s past at the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island. While the history of Fort George Island dates back more than 1,000 years ago beginning with the Timucuan Indians, the structures you’ll see on the island are from 1798. Built by slaves as the centerpiece of a massive plantation, the Kingsley Plantation was named after one of it several plantation owners, Zephaniah Kingsley and is known as the oldest plantation in Florida. 

Kitchen House at the Kingsley Plantation Kitchen House at the Kingsley Plantation
Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island, Florida Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island
Slave Quarters, Kingsley Plantation, Fort George Slave Quarters, Kingsley Plantation

Visiting the Kingsley Plantation

Preserved by the National Park Service, today the plantation’s remaining structures dot the landscape. Explore the Kingsley house, the kitchen house, a barn, the ruins of over 20 original slave cabins and the surrounding acres rich with wildlife.

Slave Quarters

Originally constructed of tabby, an old-time coastal building material, sand, lime and water, explore the ruins and reconstructed cabin that once housed the slaves at Kingsley Plantation. Uniquely arranged in a long semicircle, you’ll approach the Kingsley house via the slave cabins and barn.

Barn

150 feet away from the Kingsley house, a barn can also be seen and is thought to have been used as a place of storage, animal housing, a work place for slaves, or even living quarters.

The Garden

During the 1700s, Fort George Island was cleared and planted in fields of Sea Island Cotton, sugarcane and indigo. While much of the plantation’s original acreage has since been overgrown by forests, the Kingsley Plantation’s sample garden offers a glimpse of these plantation-era cash crops as well as other food crops that define Southern cooking today.

Kitchen House

Closest to the Kingsley house sits the Kitchen house also called the “Ma’am Anna House”. Not only was the structure used for cooking, but was also where Zephaniah Kingsley’s wife Anna’s living quarters were. The fact Anna did not live in the main house was not a reflection of her status, but rather Zephaniah’s respect for Anna’s native Senegalese culture.

Waterfront Plantation House

Built in 1798, the unique two-story Kingsley house was designed with a number of angles and windows, so that the windows would open in all directions to let breezes blow through during the hot, sticky summers. Common to many plantations, you’ll notice the Kingsley home faces the Fort George River, not the road. The focal point of the farm and the primary route of transportation and communication for the farm, the river was the loading point for schooners and barges that came to collect cotton and other crops for the market.

Bird’s, Water Views and Wildlife

Maritime forests, vast salt marshes and estuaries attract a variety of bird and marine life. Delight in bald eagles soaring through the sky, wood storks flying just above the water’s surface and gopher tortoises roaming the plantation’s grounds.

Travel Tip

All areas of the Kingsley Plantation are accessible by wheelchair.