City of Newberry recognizes Dudley Farm as it nears landmark status

The Newberry City Commission announced at the Nov. 23rd meeting that it wants to support Dudley Farm Historic State Park as it nears being named a National Landmark.

According to the farm’s website, it is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a  “one-of-a-kind, authentic working Florida farm rather than a re-created farmstead. The rural vernacular architecture and cultural landscape help tell the story of the evolution of Florida farming through three generations of the Dudley family.”

Wooden rocking chair on front porch

The farm was established by Phillip Benjamin Harvey Dudley Sr. before the Civil War, the website states. Dudley’s son, P.B.H. Dudley Jr., then developed the farmstead as it remains.

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There are 18 original buildings that were built between the 1880s and 1930s. They include a restored family farmhouse with original furnishings, kitchen, general store, post office and cane syrup complex.

Staff and volunteers in period farm clothing carry out daily chores, raise the crops and take care of the livestock.

According to Park Manager Sandra Cashes, there are 12 female and nine Cracker Cow calves currently roaming the pastures. The fields are used to grow sugar cane and the staff cuts it and conducts cane boils, often in front of school groups and guests so that they can learn about the process.

There are also horses, bronze turkeys and heritage breed chickens in pastures and pens on the farm near the farmhouse.  

The Dudley family in front of the farmhouse 1897

The pandemic has prevented the Farm from hosting most of its annual events and weddings this year, but it is still open for taking strolls on the nature trails and visiting the livestock, checking out the equipment and hearing about life on the farm from staff and volunteers.

Olivia Hunter, 17, spent the morning of Nov. 25th weeding the garden in front of the main homestead and sweeping the porches.

Hunter, a dual-enrolled student attends home school and Santa Fe College and volunteers about five hours a week. She wears a long dress and an apron just like the Dudley family members do in the photos on exhibit throughout the farmhouse. 

“There are three bedrooms downstairs and one upstairs for all of the girls in the family,” she said about the farmhouse and added that she was enjoying the break from the heat since cooler fall weather arrived.

Cashes said the process for applying for National Landmark status started back in 2009 and now that the National Landmark committee has been reinstated, the next step is for the National Park Service to review the status.

“I’m glad Newberry is going to send a letter and keep the recommendations going,” she said.

Dudley Farm Historic State Park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The fee to get in is $5 per vehicle. For more information about the park click here.

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