Quincy: Center of Florida’s Old Tobacco Kingdom

QUINCY, capital of Gadsden County is today a quiet, somewhat laid-back Panhandle town, although the existence of beautiful antebellum mansions, large warehouses and packing houses, and an interesting downtown hint at the town’s status when it was the center of Florida’s tobacco industry which didn’t decline until the 1920’s. 

Except for an old sign painted on a fading commercial wall, there is no indication that thanks to banker Mark “Pat” Munroe, local leaders grew rich as the first investors in an Atlanta soda company that started to distribute a product called Coca-Cola.

floridatraveler gadsden QUINCY-map

THE TOUR: While US90/FL 10 (Jefferson Street) and FL 268 (Adams Street) and the major highways where people enter Quincy, the main business and residential streets are along FL12 (King Street), Madison Street, and Washington Street, one block north of US90.

The GADSDEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE is at 208 North Adams Street (FL 267) and has a lot of useful information.

 

If you are driving and using the map to cover the downtown district, you might want to start on East King Street (FL 12) at the JOHN LEEMcFARLIN HOUSE at 305 East King. The beautiful Victorian Queen Anne is a bed and breakfast just seven walking minutes from the restaurants and antiuque shops of downtown Quincy. Across the street is the J. E. A. DAVIDSON HOUSE (306 East King), home of a former Florida state senator, and at 318 East King is the majestic 1905 UNDERHILL-WEDELES HOUSE.

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The John Lee McFarlin House (1895)

 Go right around the next block and return to the 200 block of East King. At 234 East King is the majestic 1893 PAT MUNROE HOUSEowned by the President of the Quincy Bank, first chartered by the state, and now used by the GADSDEN GARDEN CLUB. With two acres, there is plenty of room for flowers. The SHAW HOUSE at 222 East King is believed to be built as early as 1840.

 Turn left onto North DuVal Street where at 121 North DuVal is the STOCKTON-CURRY HOUSE, a Classical Revival beauty built in 1836 and home to a Pennslyvania mail coach family for sixty years. It was later the home of State Senator James E. Broome, whose father James E. Broome Sr. was Governor of Florida.

floridatraveler gadsden quincy-methodist

 The Methodist Church

Turn right on Franklin Street and go past the 1918 CENTENARY METHODIST CHURCH at 122 North Madison. It has Tiffany windows. Turn right on busy Madison Street. At 205 North Madison is the E.B. SHELFER HOUSE built in 1903 by another tobacco baron. It is hard to see with the fence and vegetation. The A. K. ALLISON HOUSE at 215 North Madison looks like a cute 1843 home until you realize it is a bed and breakfast and was owned by the Indian fighter who became the sixth Governor of Florida. It may be the most historic home you can spend a night at in Florida.

floridatraveler gadsden quincy-allison

floridatraveler gadsden quincy-allisonINT

GOVERNOR A. K. ALLISON BED AND BREAKFAST (1843)

Along Madison on the left side is the OWL CIGAR COMPANY WAREHOUSE (404 North Madison), a reminder of Quincy’s agricultural past.Turn right on King and then right again onto Adams. At 303 North Adams is the 1850 QUINCY ACADEMY or QUINCY LIBRARY, a brick building that served hundreds of locals for decades.

 To see two other old residences, turn left on Sharon Street and left again onto Jackson Street. At 219 North Jackson is the so-calledJUDGE E. C. LOVE HOUSE but he did not buy the house until 1876 and it was built way back in 1840. There is no confusion over the 1842 SAMUEL STEVENS HOUSE at 220 North Jackson, named for a pioneer businessman.

 If you are getting waylaid by so many antebellum residences, you might want to drive back and park in the 100 block area of East Washington Street and 100 East Jefferson, where there are some classic commercial structures. The 1899 WILLIAM HARDON BUILDINGat 16 West Washington Street was owned by an African-American inventor who started the first steam electric plant in Gadsden County.The QUINCY BANK BUILDING (102 East Washington) was started in 1906 as a grain store and became the May Tobacco Company. At 118 East Washington is the colorful LEAF THEATRE (1949) once a movie theater, now the Music Theater, as well as the most haunted building in a town with lots of old ghosts.

 AT 112 East Jefferson is a 1910 opera house the EMPIRE THEATER once the town pride. You can’t miss the 1913 GADSDEN COUNTY COURTHOUSE (10 East Jefferson) The oldest storefront is the 1840 HADLEY BUILDING over at 107 East Jefferson. If you go to the corner of Jefferson and turn left on Madison at the old Love and Hearin Building, you will see one of Quincy’s most photographed sights – a fading painted Coca-Cola mural, one of the oldest in the USA. It was painted there after many local businessmen got rich with the drink investment.

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About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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