Plantation Houses of North Florida


  • Eduardo Robles Florida A&M University



Plantation, culture, traditional, landscapes, construction


The concept of Plantation conjures an image that identifies the North Florida / South Georgia region of the U. S. Leon County attracted many cotton planters from Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina in the 1820’s to the 1850’s. Up to the beginning of the Civil War, Leon County was the 5th largest producer of cotton counting all counties from Florida and Georgia. The Civil War brought the plantation culture to a standstill.

The plantations transformed the environment based on their need for open fields in which to cultivate different crops, or raise a variety of animals with the help of slaves. From the 1900’s many plantations abandoned their land to nature producing a deep change in the local landscape. Today plantations are not used as much for planting crops but more for hunting or as tree farms. The hunting plantations do not grow crops but provide good conditions for the hunting of animals and birds. Other plantations were torn apart, sold and now are part of the Tallahassee urban fabric. In other words, they disappeared.

The transformation of the plantations has been slow and steady, and has become the image of the area, even the region. The paper shows five plantations that represent five different evolutions of these traditional landscapes. The landscapes have evolved to accommodate the very local but fluid definition of place. It is this transformation, this evolving identity which helped preserve some of the traditional landscapes and the traditional architecture on them.

The most prominent feature of the plantation is the “Big House” or plantation house. The house embodies all aspects of the plantation life style. The construction materials and methods reflected the times, the technologies and the available resources.

The research has been done mainly in the archives of the Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation. The results, still pending, explain the land typology as it evolved from the golden decades of the plantation culture to the present day land use.


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Author Biography

Eduardo Robles, Florida A&M University

Associate Professor

School of Architecture & Engineering Technologies


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