Visit Historic Gainesville Homes and Museums

A city in Alachua County, Florida, Gainesville is home to one of the largest universities in the United States, the University of Florida. When the city's landmark Victorian courthouse and other historic buildings were demolished in the 1960s, the community started paying more attention to historic preservation. Gainesville homes and other historic buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places. While staying at a Gainesville tavern bed and breakfast, make it a point to visit these historic Gainesville homes and museums to see the city's historic charm.

Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation
8500 Southwest Archer Road
Gainesville, Florida 32608
(352) 336-9096

Established by Thomas Evans and Serena Chesnut Haile, this 1,500-acre Sea Island cotton plantation is one of the oldest Gainesville homes. Completed by enslaved black craftsmen in 1856, the home is known for its "Talking Walls," over 12,500 words written on the walls by the Hailes and their friends. The Historic Haile Homestead is open to the public for tours Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The tours cost $5 per person but children under 12 are admitted for free.

Colson House
607 East University Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32601

Built along the former Alachua Avenue, the Colson House is a Neoclassical Victorian that was home to the family of Dr. James Colson for over 70 years. Its attic features a distinct colored glass window with panes shaped like diamonds. The house became law offices in 1977, and the home of the Star Center Youth Theatre at one point. It is adjacent to the McKenzie House, an elaborate circa 1895 Queen Anne mansion.

Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc.
513 East University Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32601
(352) 378-2280

"Dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Alachua County," the museum complex features 4 sites: the Matheson Museum, the Matheson House, the Tison Tool Museum, and Sweetwater Park.

Matheson Museum

Gainesville's former American Legion Hall, the Matheson Museum features permanent and temporary exhibitions that chart the history of Alachua County. The permanent exhibits tell the area's history from the Timucuan Indians, its original inhabitants, to the Spanish occupation of the area to William Bartram's travels. The Matheson Museum offers tours by appointment only so before visiting, call them from your Gainesville tavern inn and schedule a tour.

Matheson House

Built in 1867 by James Douglas Matheson, an emigrant from South Carolina, the Matheson House is the second-oldest residence in Gainesville. The house features a one-of-a-kind mix of South Carolina plantation and Classic Revival raised cottage architecture. There are features that are uncommon in Florida residences, such as the ceiling to ground porch columns and the gambrel roof. The Matheson House is open by appointment only so call the number above to make arrangements for a tour.

Tison Tool Museum

Built in 1993 and reconstructed in 1998, the Tison Tool Museum showcases the tool collection of John Mason Tison, Jr., a Gainesville local. The museum structure and the tools inside it pay tribute to the artistry and skill which brought Alachua County's built environment into being. The Tison Tool Museum is open by appointment only so call the number above to make arrangements for a tour.