Although still a bachelor, Gamble wanted to build
a lavish home. The north section was built first,
separated from the main building by the breezeway
or “dogtrot” as our very knowledgeable tour guide,
Ranger Jesse Toney, explained it was called back then.
“The breezeway separated the main house from
the kitchen, and that’s where the dogs stayed,” Toney
said. “The cooks would prepare fried corn meal and
throw the pieces out onto the lawn, to hush the
puppies so the food could be delivered to the dining
Construction materials for the mansion were
tabby brick made from sand, shells and crushed
oyster shell lime. It was a regional substitute for
brick. The two-story home has ten rooms. The
outer walls are nearly two feet thick. Eighteen
cement columns support the roof and upper
verandas, which extend around the sides of the
building. The home has eight fireplaces. The architecture
of the home is a modified Greek revival.
Windows were added to provide a cross breeze to
keep the home cooler. The mansion took six years
36 GASPARILLA ISLAND November/December 2017
A piano, a fireplace, a table for tea
and chairs are the only items placed
in the parlor room.
In 1843, Major Robert Gamble of Tallahassee
claimed his acreage along the Manatee River, a
remote region from civilization at the time, to establish
a sugar plantation. His father, John Gamble, also a
sugar plantation pioneer in Tallahassee, supported him
in this venture.
Gamble sailed south on the west coast of Florida
with two of his brothers until he hit a sandbar in
Ellenton, and claimed his acreage.
He brought slaves from family plantations near
Tallahassee who cleared the land. Gamble bought
modern machinery from New Orleans for the sugar