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Gamble Plantation Historic State Park Photo Tour

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Catch of Glimpse of Mansion from Entry
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com
The mansion at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton is the oldest building in Manatee County and the only surviving antebellum mansion in South Florida.

After the Second Seminole War, in 1843, Major Robert Gamble took advantage of the Armed Occupation Act and claimed 160 acres along the Manatee River to establish a sugar plantation. It took six long years to build his mansion, but it still stands today. While the mansion survived, Gamble couldn't recover from the plantation's crop losses and falling sugar prices. In 1856, he sold the estate to two men from Louisiana and returned to Tallahassee.

A price on his head and Union soldiers on his heels, it is believed that Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, posing as a "Mr. Howard," used the mansion as a shelter for a few days in May, 1865 during his escape from this country.

In a forced sale in 1872, the land and mansion were purchased by Major George Patten for just $3000. Several years later, Patten's son abandoned the mansion and built a more "modern" house. That house has been restored and still stands on the grounds today.

By the 1920's, the vacant mansion was in a state of ruin. In 1925, the Judah P. Benjamin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the property and deeded it to the State of Florida as a historic site.

Today the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park welcomes visitors daily from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. Scheduled guided tours of the mansion are offered Thursday through Monday at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Tour fees are $5.00 per person for adults, $3.00 for children (ages 6-12) and free for those age five and younger.

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