When driving on SR26 (Newberry Road) between Gainesville and Newberry, Florida, the casual observer is likely to overlook the less-than-imposing entry and driveway that leads to Dudley Farm Historic State Park (For your GPS: 18730 W. Newberry Road, Newbery, FL 32669).
What lies at the end of the quarter-mile drive is astounding in terms of the quality of the farmstead and the surrounding buildings. Here’s a description from the park’s website:
“Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this park demonstrates the evolution of Florida farming from the 1850s to the mid-1940s-through three generations of the Dudley family. An authentic working farm, the homestead consists of 18 buildings, including the family farmhouse with original furnishings, an 1880s kitchen outbuilding, a general store and post office, and a functional cane syrup complex. Park staff in period clothing perform daily chores, raise crops and tend to livestock. The farm features seasonal cane grindings, corn shuckings and heritage varieties of livestock and plants. Deer, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises and bluebirds are still seen in the fields. The park has a visitor center, picnic area and nature trail.”
At special events, and on most days, you’ll see park employees and park volunteers dressed in period attire and doing period “chores”. You can always take a cell phone tour of the park, and there are regular tours available on Saturdays. Special events include a Fall Farm and Cane Festival (in December), a quilt and antiques show (in October), and a gardening/farming/planting weekend in early March.
The photos that follow will lend more than a thousand words to what you’ll see at many of the events held at the park. They are from a Reconstruction Weekend that portrayed life in post-Civil War Florida.