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The echoes of American history

Step back in time and revel in the skillfully restored history of the Gamble Plantation State Historic Site, the last antebellum mansion on Florida’s west coast. Built between 1843-1850 by Major Robert Gamble, a sugar cane producer who faulted on payments, the mansion later became residence for Captain Archibald McNeil, Deputy Commissary Agent for the Confederate government. The most legendary history behind the Gamble Mansion is that the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah Benjamin, was smuggled through the Gamble Plantation by McNeil, to hide from Union soldiers at the close of the Civil War. The Gamble Plantation echoes years of legendary American history.

Gamble first bought only a small amount of land near the town now known as Ellenton, Florida, but soon increased his land to nearly 3,500 acres, containing a mile, extensive slave quarters, and guest houses, through prosperous sugar cane cultivation. During the early part of the 1850s, the Gamble plantation acquired more than 300 slaves and was known as the best sugar plantation in the country.

The mills the slave quarters and much of the land was burned near the end of the Civil War because Union soldiers were under the impression that the Confederate President Davis owned the land. The mansion remained and was leased to Louisiana businessmen by Gamble’s brother in law who still controlled the 3,500 acres and the mansion. Eventually the mansion was left abandoned and in ruins, until the 1920s when the Judah Benjamin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy bought the land and gave the deed to the State of Florida who renovated the home, restoring it to the full glory of a typical Southern mansion, and opened it to the public.

The Gamble Plantation rests on beautiful land outside of Bradenton and is well worth the short drive north from Venice. To find the Plantation take US-41 or I-75 North to US-301. Located on US-301 between US-41 and I-75 in Ellenton.

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