VIDEO: Exploring NE Florida's Kingsley Plantation

May 16, 2017

WJCT presents a collaboration between the University of North Florida's Environmental Center and Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida on 19 short videos showcasing the city, state and national parks of the First Coast, produced by Sean Lahav, a project leader in the environmental leadership program.

Kingsley Plantation

Overlooking the Fort George River in Jacksonville, the Kingsley Plantation is a well-preserved historic site that relays tales of slavery, farming and politics in the 19th century.

Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Description

Part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Kingsley Plantation dates back to Spanish reign over Florida, at a time when plantations were mushrooming across the area.

Today, the park boasts well-preserved structural artifacts that reveal the legacy of plantation farming and of slavery in the South.

The Kingsley Plantation house was built in 1789. In defiance of modern expectations, the house faces not the road but Fort George River, which was the major commercial artery for the transportation of cotton.

An original barn, the waterfront and the outline of a garden where Sea Island cotton and other crops were sampled still stand onsite.

Slave cabins also remain behind the main house. While some quarters have been reduced to a foundation and parts of walls, others have been restored.

History

Zephaniah Kingsley leased the plantation in 1814, purchasing the property a few years later.

A slave trader, Kingsley purchased his wife, Senegalese Anna Madgigine Jai, in Havana Cuba when she was only 13 years old. The couple had four kids.

Three years before arriving at the plantation, Kingsley freed his offspring and wife, who went on to become a partner at the plantation and owned slaves. When Florida passed from Spanish to American rule in 1821, new restrictive laws began to apply to even free slaves.

In response, Kingsley unsuccessfully campaigned that people should be judged by class, not color. The Kingsleys and 50 freed plantation slaves eventually moved to Haiti, after becoming a free black republic.

What remains of the Kingsley Plantation includes the family house and kitchen, slave quarters, barn, waterfront and interpretive garden, which can all be toured.

Kingsley Plantation
Credit SEAN LAHAV / UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA'S ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER

Activities

The park offers the award-winning “The Lion’s Storyteller” tour free of charge. Visitors are equipped with a device that determines a location and plays a snippet of history pertaining to their surroundings.

A captioned tour mode is also available.

Pets are welcomed in the outdoor areas. A leash is required.

Location

Directions via I-95: Head north on Interstate 95 and take exit 358A to merge onto Zoo Parkway/FL-105. Stay on the road as Zoo Parkway continues as Hecklocalscher Drive after I-295. After 15 miles, turn left onto Fort George Road and the then left again onto Palmetto Avenue. Kinsley Plantation is at the end of Palmetto Avenue.

Dima Vitanova can be reached at dima93vitanova@gmail.com and Vince Kong can be reached at vkong@wjct.org