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Gallery: Kingsley Plantation

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The Kingsley Plantation is located on St. George Island in Jacksonville. The main house was constructed about 16 years before Zephaniah Kingsley moved here 1814. The unusual floor plan included four corner rooms or pavilions.

Zephaniah's wife, Anna, managed the plantation. Anna was purchased by Kingsley as a slave in 1806 when she was 13 years old. By 1811, Kingsley had given Anna and their three children their freedom. Ana continued to manage the plantation until the mid-1830s when she and her children moved to Haiti to avoid the harsh racial laws enacted in Florida after its annexation by the United States. She did, however, later return to Florida to be near her daughters and grandchildren. She died in Florida in 1870.

An observation deck was built on the Kingsley Plantation roof. Originally there were no roads to the plantation. The only available transportation was by ship. The observation deck looks out over the St. Johns River.

Detail of the observation deck at the Kingsley Plantation.

View of the back of the Kingsley Plantation main house. The St. Johns River is just beyond the palm trees in front of the house.

Back view of the kitchen house at the Kingsley Plantation. Kitchens were usually detached from wooden houses to reduce the risk of fire. In the foreground is a well.

The kitchen house at the Kingsley Plantation was known as the "Ma'am Anna House" because it was also Anna's living quarters. The fact that she did not live in the main house was not a reflection of her status, but rather reflected Zephaniah's respect of Anna's native culture. Anna (born Anna Madgigine Jai) was a native of Senegal, West Africa. In Senegal culture, men and women did not share the same living quarters.

The bell by the Ma'am Anna House was used to summon slaves from the fields. An important crop at the Kingsley Plantation was South Sea cotton.

The well was located behind the Ma'am Anna House at the Kingsley Plantation.

The Kingsley Plantation barn was constructed of "tabby," a kind of concrete made of burned shells (to make lime), sand, and water

The Kingsley Plantation barn.

A wall of the Kingsley Plantation barn showing tabby construction.

Detail of the tabby walls of the Kingsley Plantation barn. This type of tabby concrete is called "whole shell tabby" since it also contains whole oyster shells. The whole shells were added to speed the drying time of the tabby and to increase the volume of the mixture. Oyster shells were readily available on St. George Island because it had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. The Native Americans harvested shellfish for food and left the empty shells to pile up into what we call "middens."

The slave cabins were also constructed of tabby. The small holes in the wall are probably the result of the "spreader pins" used to hold the wooden forms at the proper thickness. The liquid tabby was poured into the forms and allowed to dry for several days. Once dry, the forms could be removed just as we do today with concrete construction.

One of the original slave cabins at the Kingsley Plantation has been reconstructed.

A wooden shutter on a window of the reconstructed slave cabin at Kingsley Plantation.

Looking out a window of the reconstructed slave cabin at Kingsley Plantation.

Looking out a partially shuttered window of the reconstructed slave cabin at Kingsley Plantation.

All that is left of the unreconstructed slave cabins at Kingsley Plantation are the tabby walls. The wooden roofs and windows would have rotted in Florida's moist climate years ago.

View of several cabins in a semicircle at the Kingsley Plantation. Sadly, much of the recent damage to this important historic site has been due to thoughtless visitors.



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