The Gamble family, planters from Virginia, found the soil around today’s Bradenton suitable for growing sugarcane. Robert Gamble and his two brothers moved to this acreage on the Manatee River in the 1840s and eventually built a Greek Revival-style home that became the pioneering town’s social hub.
A series of misfortunes meant the demise of the plantation, which in its heyday owned 3,500 acres and 190 slaves. The home, considered a mansion by standards of the time, fell into disrepair. At the end of the Civil War, Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, while fleeing arrest, took brief shelter in the home, a fact that ultimately saved it. In 1925, the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the property and deeded it to the state of Florida. It remains the only surviving antebellum plantation manor in south Florida.
Visitors can learn about the plantation’s history in a small museum in the free visitors center. Volunteers guide one-hour tours of the home six times daily for a fee. The guides tailor their fact-filled tours to kids when present.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday; tours at 9:30, 10:30, 1, 2, 3, and 4.