Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Gamble Mansion in Sepia

Gamble Mansion 1844

The Gamble Plantation Mansion is the oldest building in Manatee County and the only surviving antebellum mansion in South Florida.

Major Robert Gamble built his mansion along the Manatee River and established a sugar plantation of 3,450 acres and 182 slaves. He owned the plantation from 1844-1872.

The ruins of the sugar mill; roughly 3/4 0f a mile from the mansion.

Gamble sold the mansion to Captain Archibald McNeill, a Confederate blockade runner. It is believed that the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin took refuge here as he was fleeing the country after the fall of the Confederacy.

The mansion passed through the hands of more families before falling into disrepair in the early 1900's. At one time it was used to store fertilizer. The fertilizer was of the un-bagged, organic variety, if you get my meaning.

In 1925 the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the mansion and 16 acres of land and donated it to the state of Florida. It is now a state park.

The Colonel, Yam, my In-Laws and I visited the mansion last weekend. Spud did not come with us. He had just returned from a two day drill competition on the Atlantic coast and wanted to stay home to rest and study for finals before Christmas break.

The Gamble Plantation was hosting a small reenactment day at the mansion. On the grounds there were soldiers in tents and soldiers firing off cannons.

There were others in period costume.

The park was holding free mansion tours. I was eagerly anticipating the tour as it was my first. The park is near my in-laws home and I have driven by the mansion many times and have been on the grounds a couple of times but had never been inside.

My mother-in-law, Yam and I took the tour; The Colonel and his father opted out and walked the grounds inspecting the soldiers and cannons.

I was surprised to see that the mansion was only one room deep with a hallway that ran on one side of the mansion. Upstairs, where the tour began, there were two bedrooms and a storage room. Downstairs were the overseer's office, parlor and dining room. The work room and kitchen were separated from the main house by a breezeway or dogtrot. As we were taking the tour we heard the cannons firing outside. I couldn't resist myself and said to Yam and my mother-in-law, sotto voce and in my best southern lady accent, "The damn Yankees are coming."

I enjoyed my tour. I love going through old and historic houses. After the tour we all had some lunch. There were food vendors on the grounds. I had a delicious chopped pork sandwich. When we had finished lunch we walked the grounds and I snapped many photos. I chose to take my photos in a sepia tone. I thought the tone lent itself very nicely to the effect I wanted; that of old antebellum photos.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter is doing a history fair project on the gamble plantation. May we use your picturres and credit you with them? Sonya