Public invited to grand opening of UWF Historic Trust Arcadia Homestead
The University of West Florida Historic Trust’s Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site will host the grand opening of the Arcadia Homestead on Saturday, March 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The addition provides a new cultural resource and heritage tourism destination in Northwest Florida.
Arcadia Homestead is part of the Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site, located in Milton, which represents the largest 19th-century water-powered industrial complex in Northwest Florida. The homestead sprawls nearly seven acres and includes a farm and the Simpson House, which was constructed in 1935 after the original Antebellum house burned down. The Simpson House was a gift to UWF from John Ripley and Suzanne Kranc, in honor of their mother, Suzanne Fisher.
“My brother John and I are delighted to be able to present our family home at Arcadia to UWF so it will be preserved for the future and can be used as a teaching tool in presenting the history of the Simpson family, the Arcadia Mill Industrial Site and Northwest Florida,” said Kranc. “Our gift is the legacy of our mother, whose life was centered around the love and care of our home.”
Fisher was born and lived in the family home throughout her life. Her father, Charles Henry Simpson, built the Arcadia Mill house in 1935 and was the son of Arcadia Mill owner, Ezekiel E. Simpson. Ripley, a UWF alumni and well-known local pianist, said he got his musicality from his mother, who played the piano often at the property.
“Being a UWF alumni, I couldn’t be more pleased than having the UWF Historic Trust be the stewards of our family’s homestead,” said Ripley. “Our mother Suzanne was born at Arcadia and died there, and loved the place more than anyone. There’s no better way of keeping her spirit and love alive than sharing Arcadia with generations to come.”
The Simpson House was recently restored with grant funding from the Florida Division of Historical Resources. It was updated in an effort to take visitors back in time and interpret the framework of the Great Depression. The first floor of the home, which is open to the public, is approximately 1,200 square feet. Visitors can step back into that time period through a multi-sensory experience. The home will also serve as a learning laboratory for students which will allow future archaeological excavations and ongoing exhibit and curatorial projects inside the home.
“The donation of Arcadia Homestead has broadened our abilities to interpret our rich, local history,” said Adrianne Walker, site manager at Arcadia Mill. “Now we are able to tell a much larger story about the diverse people who lived and worked here over time.”
Vendors, demonstrators, food trucks and children’s activities will be on site at the mill and the homestead during the grand opening. The event is free and open to the public and trolley service will be provided between the sites for visitors.
Following the grand opening, the homestead will be open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to access to the Arcadia Homestead and Arcadia Mill Visitor Site is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, military, AAA members and $3 for children ages 3-14. UWF students, EBT card holders and members of the Historic Trust will be admitted free of charge.
For more information on Arcadia Homestead, visit historicpensacola.org.