Sweetwater Branch Inn

625 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida 32601
Innkeeper(s): Cornelia Holbrook
  • Sweetwater Branch Inn... lodging that offers hospitality, tranquility & comfort

    Sweetwater Branch Inn... lodging that offers hospitality, tranquility & comfort

  • Victoria's Cottage

    Victoria's Cottage

  • The Honeymoon Suite at Sweetwater Branch Inn

    The Honeymoon Suite at Sweetwater Branch Inn

  • Enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast at Sweetwater Branch Inn

    Enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast at Sweetwater Branch Inn

  • Host the perfect wedding or event in our beautiful banquet spaces

    Host the perfect wedding or event in our beautiful banquet spaces

 
  • Introduction


    The Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast, in hip downtown Gainesville, is a world-class bed & breakfast. Featured on PBS's series "Country Inns USA," The Sweetwater Branch Inn is graciously decorated and historically preserved offering its visitors a unique lodging experience.

    While you are a guest at the Sweetwater Branch Inn, a complimentary glass of wine awaits you when you arrive. In the morning, you'll awaken to the rich aroma of Sweetwater's own blend of Sweetwater Organic coffee and a newspaper. Downstairs, a delicious full gourmet breakfast awaits you. The menu always includes a wide variety of choices, from the Sweetwater's famous crepes to savory choices such as quiche and croissants. Breakfast always includes fresh fruit and juice.

    Surrounded by the magnificent McKenzie Gardens, the McKenzie House, dating to 1895, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    The Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast, in historic downtown Gainesville, is part of a Victorian complex which offers all the amenities you would expect in a world-class bed & breakfast and much more. More History. Featured on PBS’s series “Country Inns USA,” The Sweetwater Branch Inn is graciously decorated and historically preserved offering its visitors a unique lodging experience. Surrounded by the magnificent McKenzie Gardens, the McKenzie House, dating to 1895, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    The Sweetwater Branch Inn combines the best of Southern hospitality and Victorian comfort, along with today’s modern amenities and conveniences. Conveniently located adjacent to the University of Florida and Gainesville’s Historic District, the Sweetwater Branch Inn is within walking distance to Gainesville’s Downtown, home to fine dining, theatre, museums, music and a variety of evening entertainment.

  • About Our Inn

    Whether you are looking for a honeymoon destination, intimate romantic getaway, complete wedding accommodations, a business venue, a great place for your special event, or just to stay the night and be pampered in luxury, you’ve come to the right place.
     
    You have a choice of tastefully decorated rooms or fully equipped cottages ideal for extended stays. The Sweetwater Branch Inn offers you a comfortable and tasteful alternative to your standard hotel experience whether you are on a leisure or business trip. Our beautiful Reception Hall doubles as Conference Center / Meeting Space and our spectacular settings and customized business packages make it the ideal destination for corporate retreats.
     
    The Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast invites you to step back in time in our beautifully restored, historical landmark Victorian homes. Sometimes you just need to get away from familiar surroundings and rest your head in unique beauty. At the Sweetwater’s Victorian Complex, you’ll find a soothing blend of Southern comfort and Victorian elegance. With shiny hardwood floors, antique furnishings, and luxurious amenities, our gracefully proportioned rooms and cottages are designed for your comfort and relaxation. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, the Sweetwater wishes to accommodate your every need.
     
    Room rates range from $109 for a single/double room to $239 for a large cottage.  Prices include full breakfast and a complimentary wine and cheese hour for up to 2 people. For further information on reservations click here. To better get acquainted with the Sweetwater Branch Inn, view our rooms and cottages to see the unique character, ambiance, and amenities that set each apart.
  • History

    Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

    Located in Gainesville’s historic district, the Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast is an eclectic blend of Victorian charm and Southern hospitality. Devoted to guests who are seeking the exceptional, the Sweetwater Branch Inn is well known for its comfort, beauty, and hospitality.

    McKenzie HouseFeatured on the popular PBS television series, “Inn Country USA,” Sweetwater is a Victorian complex of two carefully restored Victorian-era mansions (the McKenzie House and the Cushman-Colson House), charming guest cottages, a modern reception hall and beautifully sculptured gardens. At every turn, one can see a true testament to the finest in preserved Victorian Florida. Historic conservation is an important aspect of the goals of Sweetwater Inn’s owners. In addition, sharing the beauty and comfort that are a hallmark of Sweetwater’s reputation is a high priority.

    The historic McKenzie House, circa 1895, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. This magnificent three-story Queen Anne style Victorian home is known as one of the most elaborate Victorian buildings in Gainesville’s history. It has intricate Eastlake details and a fanciful restored massing. Of special note are the three-story octagonal turrets on the west face, and the wrap-around veranda which culminate in an octagonal gazebo.

    Perry Colson purchased the home in 1903 and sold it to William Turner Pound, the first husband of Mary Phifer. In the 1920′s Mary Phifer married Reid Hill McKenzie. She lived in the McKenzie house until she was 83 years old. This is the location of five beautifully appointed Sweetwater Inn guest rooms.
    Sweetwater Branch Inn Historical PhotoThe Cushman-Colson house, a Victorian, circa 1885, was one of the original Gainesville homes that lined old Alachua Avenue which is now University Avenue. The house is named after the Cushman family who lived in the house until 1905 and the family of Dr. James Colson, who lived there for 20 years. It has since been the home of several influential Gainesville families and reflects the tastes of the affluent at the turn of the century. The Cushman-Colson House hosts seven beautiful and unique Sweetwater Inn guest rooms.

    While the homes have a history of their own, the Holbrook family, the current owners and Innkeepers, have a history with them as well. Neglected over the years, these beautiful homes had fallen into a state of disrepair until, in 1978, Giovanna and Juan Holbrook, purchased the McKenzie home and began restoring it to its original beauty and charm. Giovanna Holbrook and her daughter Cornelia later purchased and restored the Cushman home in 1992.

    The process of taking these buildings from their dilapidated condition to the beautiful and historic works of art they are today was one of love and patience, not to mention a lot of sweat and hard work. This hard work and dedication has resulted in two City Beautification Awards from the City of Gainesville. Sweetwater Inn is now a source of pride for its owners as well as the community. The Holbrook’s invite you to take a closer look at their website and call anytime with questions. Of course, if you’re in the area, please visit, stay, and enjoy!
  • Amenities

     

    Sweetwater Branch Inn offers 18 spacious rooms, suites and cottages that will capture your heart and ease your mind. Graciously decorated, each room offers the following amenities:
    • Central Air Conditioning/Heat
    • Private bath with claw-foot tub, or Jacuzzi tub and shower (with the exception of Julia’s room which has a unique 1930′s Art Deco walk-in shower)
    • Queen or King Size Beds
    • Antique furnishings
    • Writing desks with sitting chairs
    • Private telephone
    • Cable television
    • Wireless High Speed Internet
    • Ironing board and iron
    • Blow dryer
    • Coffee Maker
    • Noise diffusers
    • Free local phone calls
    • Many rooms with fireplaces
    • Pre-Arranged Shuttle Service runs from 7:00 am- 11:00 pm

    Property Features

    • Two blocks from hip downtown Gainesville
    • On-site Bike Rentals
    • Gift Shop with unique items
    • Romance Packages
    • Koi Pond
    • Courtyard
    • Lush Gardens
    • Library
  • Weddings and Receptions

    Let Sweetwater help you create the perfect wedding ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner, brunch or shower.  We offer full catering services with all details provided as well as limited reception coordination to help make your day run smooth!  Relax knowing that your event director will ensure your day is one to remember.  With 18 rooms, suites and cottages, your guests can stay on-site and have a weekend filled with memories!

    Nestled in historic downtown Gainesville, Florida, Sweetwater Branch Inn provides the perfect location for weddings.  Sweetwater Branch Inn defines Victorian romance and Southern comfort, with a touch of vintage charm. Your wedding should be an unforgettable memory that will last a lifetime.
    To ensure this lasting memory the Sweetwater Branch Inn staff will customize your wedding to your particular needs and style, making this the perfect venue for your special day.  At Sweetwater Branch Inn you can find everything you need for nearly every aspect of your wedding.

    Event Staff

    Our knowledgeable and friendly event staff will help you plan your wedding every step of the way, according to your style and within your budget. We offer full on-site catering for up to 250 guests for any of your pre-wedding, wedding, or post-wedding events. Be sure to check the testimonials of past patrons who know firsthand how wonderful a wedding at the Sweetwater Branch Inn can be!

    Wedding Ceremony

    Your wedding ceremony is the first step leading to the rest of your life. Sweetwater provides the perfect setting for your wedding ceremony. Whether inside, or outside at the courtyard, gazebo or colonnade surrounded by the beautiful gardens, you can choose the space that best suits your needs and style.

    After the ceremony, Sweetwater offers two banquet spaces for receptions: The McKenzie Hall and the McKenzie House.

    McKenzie Hall

    McKenzie Hall combines all the charm and ambiance of a Victorian era banquet room with the convenience of modern amenities. The Hall’s spacious central room, with its many glass doors, opens out to a large patio surrounded by lush Florida gardens and is the perfect facility for any special occasion. Elegantly designed with high ceilings, Victorian light fixtures, and exposed trusses, the McKenzie Hall speaks of times past. Glass doors surround you making daytime or nightime events feel like an outdoor garden reception. This spacious hall is inspired by, and adjacent to, the historic McKenzie House, a magnificent three-story Victorian home listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    McKenzie House

    The McKenzie House is perfect for a smaller, more intimate, reception. The first floor banquet area is decorated with beautiful antique furniture, oriental carpets and accessories. The dining room opens to a large wrap-around front porch that is perfect for cocktails before dinner.

    Catering

    Sweetwater Branch Inn prides itself on not only the charm and comfort the inn offers, but also the delectable dishes served. From light fare to buffets to full-service, sit-down dining, you’ll find wedding event menus to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Sweetwater can accommodate and provide menus for up to 250 people for hors d’oeuvres style and 175 people for sit-down dinners in the McKenzie Hall. When you choose the Sweetwater Branch Inn for your wedding, our friendly and professional event staff will help you plan for all your wedding function and menu needs.

    Wedding Party & Guest Overnight Accommodations

    In addition to the Honeymoon Cottage, Sweetwater also offers 17 rooms, suites and cottages for out of town or wedding party guests who wish to stay. All rooms, cottages, and apartments offer distinct styles and elegant comfort.  Ask about special discounts given to you and guests of the wedding!

     

  • Business Events

    Sweetwater offers a large banquet hall as well as a smaller facility for any business, UF or Santa Fe event including, but not limited to, meetings, conferences, monthly luncheons, corporate retreats and holiday parties.  Having a week long retreat?  Your guests can have a one-of-a-kind room for the length of their stay!

    Meetings, Conferences, Corporate Retreats & More

    • The Sweetwater Branch Inn hosts a number of business events, including:
    • Business Meetings
    • Group/Organization Luncheons
    • Corporate Retreats
    • Holiday Parties
    • Awards Banquets

    Conferences are held at the McKenzie Hall, a 2,300 square foot central room, with many glass doors that open to a large patio surrounded by the lush McKenzie Gardens.

    Elegantly designed with exposed truss ceilings, Victorian light fixtures, and crisp white paint, the McKenzie Hall is perfect for business meetings and conferences.

    Equipped with a full kitchen facility, serving room, and spacious restrooms, the McKenzie Hall has a 250-guest hosting capacity for hors d’oeuvres or a light buffet menu and a 175-guest hosting capacity for sit-down dinners.

    Because of its glass doors and windows, during the day, a McKenzie Hall event feels like an outdoor garden reception or luncheon. At night, the colored glass cupola sends out a beckoning light while you stroll through the lit garden walkways. Day or night, the ivy laced bridge and arbor, seven unique fountains, magnificent gardens and reflecting koi pond provide a serene ambiance for all corporate events.


    Event catering with freshly prepared original gourmet cuisine is available.

    Smaller business meetings/conferences are hosted in the elegant McKenzie House.

    Facilities

    • Our conference facilities are equipped with the following:
    • High speed Internet
    • Podium and Microphone
    • 50″x70″ Slide Screen
    • Customized Floor Plans

    Business Meetings / Conferences

    Our Reception Hall hosts a number of Conferences and Business Meetings throughout the year. Our Event staff is available to help you plan the details for a successful and productive conference or meeting. Our Bed and Breakfast is conveniently located near downtown Gainesville, Shands Hospital and the University of Florida.

    Group/Organization Lunches

    Sweetwater Branch Inn hosts a number of scheduled Group Lunches for businesses and organizations. Select your menu and discuss your requirements with our events coordinators.

    Business Travel: Individuals & Groups

    Whether you travel with a group or independently, the Sweetwater Branch Inn offers you a cozy and comfortable travel experience. Come visit us and you will feel at home, away from home. Our cottages are ideal for extended stays and are conveniently located near downtown Gainesville, close to the University of Florida and Shands Hospital. Our staff will be available to help with recommendations on dining, activities and general information about our area.

    Groups are welcome. Special group rates and packages are available. Please inquire with our Reservations Manager.

    Corporate Retreats

    Our Reception Halls are ideal for Conferences/Meetings and our charming settings make it the ideal destination for a corporate retreat. Our event coordinators will handle every aspect of your retreat, including accommodations, menu selection, activities, third party vendors and more. Contact our Director of Events.

    Holiday Parties

    Plan your next office holiday party at Sweetwater to enjoy the splendor of a sparkling Victorian Holiday, plus all the amenities Sweetwater has to offer. Please be sure to book early for your Christmas and other holiday parties!

    Tour and Event Price Estimate Appointment

    We will gladly meet with you, take you on a tour of our property and discuss your requirements. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

    Tours are offered by appointment only and are scheduled Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. On weekends we are typically unavailable for tours as we are devoted to the weddings and events at hand.

    We promise that on your special event we will do the same. We will focus on your event and make sure that every detail is in place. We strive to make your dreams become reality. If you would like to receive event pricing before coming for a tour appointment, please contact us with your event information so we may send you a custom price package. Thank you!

     

  • Other Events

    Graduations, Anniversaries & More

    Sweetwater Branch Inn can accommodate and provide a menu for up to 250 people for hors d’oeuvres or a light buffet and 175 people for sit-down dinners in the McKenzie Hall. Smaller events are hosted at the McKenzie House.

    Have your anniversary, graduation party or family reunion in a peaceful atmosphere with a choice of tasteful accommodations, only a few steps away from downtown Gainesville.

    University of Florida Events

    Coming to town for graduation, to help your new student set up home in Gainesville, or for that special Gator sporting event? The Sweetwater Branch Inn is a great location, situated just minutes away from the University of Florida and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Why not pamper youself and stay in one of the most beautifully restored Victorian mansions historic downtown Gainesville has to offer! The Sweetwater is also close to Gainesville’s downtown nightlife. Be sure to book ahead for major sporting events.

    Holiday Parties

    Plan your next family holiday party at Sweetwater to enjoy the splendor of a sparkling Victorian Holiday, plus all the amenities Sweetwater has to offer. Please be sure to book early for your Christmas and other holiday parties!

    Tour and Event Price Estimate Appointment

    We will gladly meet with you, take you on a tour of our property and discuss your requirements. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

    Tours are offered by appointment only and are scheduled Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. On weekends we are typically unavailable for tours as we are devoted to the weddings and events at hand.

    We promise that on your special event we will do the same. We will focus on your event and make sure that every detail is in place. We strive to make your dreams become reality. If you would like to receive event pricing before coming for a tour appointment, please contact us with your event information so we may send you a custom price package. Thank you!

  • Catering

    Event Catering

    Sweetwater Branch Inn offers fine, expertly prepared cuisine in the true tradition of Southern hospitality. Our highly regarded chef freshly prepares some of the most original cuisine found in the area to delight your culinary senses.

    Sweetwater Branch Inn catering compliments any occasion such as weddings, business luncheons, dinners, or other special events and private parties. From light fare to buffets to full-service, sit-down dining, you’ll find menus to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Sweetwater can accommodate and provide menus for up to 200 people (up to 175 people for a sit-down dinner) in McKenzie Hall. Visit the menu section for samples of our various menus. Please note that this is just a sample of our full menu. Feel free to contact our staff to find out what else our chef can dish up for your special event. Dietary, vegetarian or special request menus are also available.

    Please call or e-mail our catering and event staff if you would like a full Sweetwater Branch Inn menu along with a brochure.

    Specialty Dinners

    How about a romantic candlelight dinner for two in the lush Sweetwater Branch garden? Check out the Romance Packages, or just let us know what you’re craving, and we can help make your evening romantic, memorable, and delicious.

    Tour and Event Price Estimate Appointments

    Please contact us to schedule an appointment for a guided tour for your special event. Tours are by appointment only. Tours are scheduled Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.

    Please know that on weekends we are typically not available for tours as we are devoted to the weddings and events at hand. We promise that on your wedding day we will do the same and our focus and dedication will be to the details of your event. We strive to make your dreams a reality!

    If you would like to receive event pricing before coming for a tour appointment, please contact us with your event information so we may send you a custom wedding price package.

    Thank you!

  • Guest Comments

    Bed & Breakfast Guests Testimonials

    “Thank for your making our 50th Anniversary visit such a special time for us. The lovely surroundings created another memory to be treasured.” - Ed and Millie Holdmark

    “Your kindness and hospitality during a difficult time in our lives will never be forgotten. Everyone there left a beautiful footprint on our hearts. We will always try to spend our time in Gainesville with you as we felt like we were given the best service and made wonderful friends among you.” - Barbara

    “What a fantastic brunch!! Thank you so much for making the morning so special and TASTY! Everything was delicious and I am still getting compliments. You are so wonderful to work with, and I look forward to more events at your place!!” - Tammy

    “The Sweetwater is so lovely…now my mother, sister and I have begun calling it ‘our home away from home.’ Thanks for your hospitality!” - Gaba Vallone

    “You and your fine staff made my four day stay at Sweetwater Branch Inn wonderful! The attention to detail contributed to an extremely comfortable and enjoyable stay. Thank you for being sincerely caring about each guest! You are the perfect Innkeeper!” - Pam

    “Just a note to tell you what a wonderful time I had at the Sweetwater Branch. It felt so cozy and warm, and everything was so pretty all aglow with candles and Christmas lights, as well as beautiful decorations throughout the inn. Everyone enjoyed the many ‘treats’ you prepared with such care…Thank you very much for providing us such a lovely evening. You turned a rainy night into a toasty warm haven!” - Affectionately, Billie Lynne

    “Thank you so much for the hospitality presented at your beautiful bed and breakfast. I’ve never slept so well on a business trip—I may be visiting the Holbrook home office more frequently!” - Kelly J.

    “Thank you for making our special weekend a memorable one! The excellent accommodations and breakfast were only exceeded by our gracious hostess. You are now highly recommended in Broward County and the Keys!” - The Lanigans

    “Thank you for our wonderful stay at the Sweetwater Branch Inn. You run a beautiful bed and breakfast that envelops everyone with warmth and serenity. You have created a sanctuary…You have a gift for making people feel welcome and cared for.” - Andy and Sharon

    Wedding Testimonials

    “My wedding was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined! Everyone is still raving – thank you for making my fairy tale come true!” - Suzanne Leigofsky

    “We had a wonderful wedding and received many compliments on the gardens and hall. Congratulations on creating such a beautiful place!” - Cari Aspacher

    “Thank you so much for doing such a wonderful job on our wedding reception! The food was outstanding – our guests said it was the best they’ve ever had at a wedding reception.”  – Lisa and Mike Hotaling

    “So many of you made our wedding an unforgettable day. We could not have picked a more beautiful place to be married. The rooms at the inn were absolutely fantastic…We look forward to returning to Sweetwater for many years to come.” - Carol Goodbred and Victor Buehler

    “We are still hearing about what a wonderful time everyone had. Thanks!” - Charles McCluskey

    “Thank you so much to everyone at Sweetwater Branch Inn for making everything in our wedding magical. The wedding couldn’t have been more perfect.” - Justin and Karen Marshall

    “Thank you so much for making Sweetwater look so beautiful for our wedding. The environment was perfect. The food was excellent and beautifully prepared. We enjoyed the appointments before the wedding; they were always fun and relaxed. The entire experience was great!” - Gina and Ron Johnson

    “Many thanks to your and your marvelous staff for all you did to help make Sue and Tim’s wedding day perfect. Thanks for your recommendations of the people who also helped make it so lovely. Everything was beautiful — the tables, the flowers, the whole room in the McKenzie Hall and the Gardens…It’s been a pleasure working with you!” - Carol and Richard Denhart

    “Everything was perfect and without complications. You helped make our wedding day a memory we will always cherish.” - Christina West

    “We couldn’t have been happier with how elegant things were. All our guests commented on what a beautiful place you have and how lovely the hall is. Thanks for all you’ve done!” - Jill Hoelle

    “Thank you so much for helping make our wedding day (and night!) special and fairy-tale-like. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location and support!” - Karen Reese

  • Things To Do

    Excursion Packages

    We will gladly organize an excursion package for you or we’ll be happy to help you organize one.

    If you’re looking for a day trip, Gainesville is 45 minutes away from pristine, crystal-clear springs and spring-fed rivers. Our city is less than an hour drive from the picturesque Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico and one and a half hours away from the Atlantic Ocean. Traveling the same distance you can also reach St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States.

    If you’re looking for short excursions, Paynes Prairie State Preserve and a number of other parks are within 15 minutes of Sweetwater Branch Inn. Please contact us if you’re interested in an excursion package.

    The Hippodrome State Theatre

    Sweetwater Branch Inn is proud to support its local community and invites you to visit our local theatre: The Hippodrome State Theatre. Housed in the historic Federal Building, at walking distance from our Inn, The Hippodrome has produced more than one hundred International, American and Southeastern premieres in its 25 year history. Acclaimed playwrights such as Tennessee Williams, Eric Bentley, Paula Vogel, Lee Breuer, Adrian Mitchell and Mario Vargas Llosa have developed new works on the Hippodrome stage. In addition to its mainstage season, the Hippodrome screens first-run foreign, limited-release and avant-garde films. For information on current plays and movies or to purchase tickets, visit http://thehipp.org.

    Visitor Information

    Dining

    Florida Outdoors / Parks

    Sports

    Shopping, Antiques, and Art

    Wedding-related Vendors

  • Directions

    Directions from I-75/Exit 387

    From North:

    Take a right onto Newberry Road, follow Newberry Road (University Avenue) past the University of Florida. Follow into Downtown Gainesville. You will pass the Courthouse and Library on your right. Sweetwater Branch Inn is on the right hand side just a little way past the Library.

    From South:

    Take a right onto Newberry Road, follow Newberry Road (University Avenue) past the University of Florida. Follow into Downtown Gainesville. You will pass the Courthouse and Library on your right. Sweetwater Branch Inn is on the right hand side just a little way past the Library.

    Directions from 441

    From Orlando/South:

    Take Hwy 441 North into Alachua County. It will become 13th Street. Take 13th Street until intersection of University Avenue and 13th Street. Make right onto University Avenue and follow into Downtown Gainesville. You will pass the Courthouse and Library on your right. Sweetwater Branch Inn is on the right hand side just a little way past the Library.