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Historic marker near Kanapaha Plantation house
|NRHP reference #||86000915|
|Added to NRHP||May 2, 1986|
The Historic Haile Homestead, also known as Haile Plantation House or Kanapaha, is a historic site and museum in Gainesville, Florida, United States. It is located at 8500 SW Archer Rd. SR 24. On May 2, 1986, the plantation house was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.The Homestead is unique in the Nation for its "Talking Walls." For a reason lost to time the Haile family and friends wrote over 12,500 words on the walls, dating back to the 1850s.
In 1854 Thomas Evans Haile, his wife, Esther "Serena" Chesnut Haile, moved from Camden, South Carolina to Alachua County, Florida. There they established a 1,500-acre Sea Island cotton plantation called Kanapaha, meaning "small thatched houses". The Hailes survived bankruptcy in 1868 and turned the property into a productive farm, growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, including oranges.
Evans Haile became the owner of the land but lived in town, and after 1900 the home sat vacant for decades.
Officially known as Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation, the house was built for Thomas Evans and Serena Chesnut Haile in 1856 as part of their original 1,500-acre (6.1 km2) cotton plantation. The Hailes brought with them from South Carolina fifty-six slaves who lived in small one-room frame houses for the slaves. Billy Watts was a skilled carpenter who supervised most of the homestead construction. Henry Gaines, a stonemason from the Stringfellow plantation, was responsible for building the fireplaces, chimneys and support piers on the plantation. Johnson Chestnut was a gifted carpenter and furniture maker.
Four-foot-tall piers of mortared limerock support a foundation of 100-foot-long beams. The house is constructed of pine with cypress siding.
The house is noted for its "Talking Walls" - over 12,500 writings on its walls by members of the family and friends dating back to the 1850s.
In the late 1980s, the Haile family partnered with the Alachua Conservation Trust to restore the house. Projects include replacing the structure's current shake-shingle roof. The museum is open for tours on weekends: Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm and Sundays, 12 pm to 4 pm. The Allen & Ethel Graham Visitors Center and Museum was opened in 2017 and provides additional background and exhibits about the Haile family and the enslaved laborers.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- "History", Historic Haile Homestead
- "The Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation: An Illustrated History," Karen Kirkman and Kevin McCarthy, 2014.
- "Historic Haile Homestead", Alachua Conservation Trust