Tall Timber’s Livingston Place is listed on the National Register

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The National Park Service has added the 9,125-acre Livingston Place property in Greenville, Florida to the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of the largest designated sites in the state. Designation on the National Register recognizes this distinct cultural landscape and its architectural significance, while helping to protect and preserve it for the future.

Livingston Place – known as Dixie Plantation from 1926 to 2020 – is owned by Tall Timbers, a private non-profit land research and conservation organization founded in 1958. The Geraldine CM Livingston Foundation donated the historic property quail hunt at Tall Timbers in 2013.

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As current steward of the property, Tall Timbers has expanded wildlife research and land management improvements, as well as completing a multi-phase restoration and rehabilitation project of the main house at Livingston Place. of 1938 – with financial support from community members and three Florida State Departments. Special Category Grants.

Master architect John Russell Pope designed the main house, and it is the only one of his designs in Florida. Pope is known for designing several important buildings in Washington, DC, including the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art.

“The restoration of the main house at Livingston Place brings this historic structure back to life and allows Tall Timbers to use it for guests, science and conservation gatherings and community events. We are excited about this first step as we evaluate an action plan based on usage and demand,” commented Dr. Bill Palmer, President and CEO of Tall Timbers.

Quail hunting reserve

Livingston Place is significant for its direct association with sharecroppers and black sharecroppers and their important role in the economic, recreational and environmental development of the Red Hills.  Three farmers' cabins remain on the property.

The National Register designation also relates to this distinct American landscape of large quail hunting preserves rich in natural and cultural resources, explained Kevin McGorty, director of Tall Timbers Land Conservancy and one of the co-authors of the nomination.

“This district is one of Florida’s largest National Register properties, reflecting a distinct cultural landscape that was shaped by both the Livingston family and their athletic interests, as well as the African-American farmers who lived and worked on the land,” McGorty said.

The Livingston family left a rich legacy by establishing the property as a nationally recognized field trial site, featuring competition between some of the nation’s finest bird dogs and their handlers. The prestigious Continental Field Trial has been held annually at the site since 1937 and is one of the few remaining field events featuring wild bobwhite quail, thanks to science-based land management practices that include the use of directed fires.

The Livingstons’ implementation of land stewardship practices, as promoted in the Red Hills area by early conservationist Herbert L. Stoddard, not only improved the property’s wild quail populations, but also conserved other wildlife and restored habitats, including swamp pine forests.

History of black sharecroppers

Conservation-related, Livingston Place is significant for its direct association with black tenant farmers and sharecroppers and their important role in the economic, recreational and environmental development of the Red Hills.

African Americans, freed from slave labor in large-scale agricultural plantations, embraced small-scale farming and cultural burning which fostered quail populations and played a central role in the success of game reserves in the Red Hills area after the Reconstruction era. Black employees at these properties also kept the conservation operation running smoothly as trained dog handlers, horse trainers, and house and grounds workers.

Three sharecroppers’ huts, a commissary, two workers’ houses, three cemeteries and a dog cemetery remain as surviving elements to tell the story of this working landscape.

Tall Timbers is also developing an interpretive exhibit for the main house to share with visitors the story of the Livingston family and the role of African American farmers in shaping this revered American landscape known as the Red Hills.

Brian Wiebler is director of communications at Tall Timbers.

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