Step back in time to McIntosh, a small Victorian town located in North Central Florida
approximately 20 miles south of Gainesville. Experience the graciousness of Old
Florida while lingering in the shade created by a canopy of century-old live oak trees.
Little has been recorded about the McIntosh area prior to the beginning of its
development. An account of plantation life in the vicinity of McIntosh is given in a
diary kept by George Houstoun in 1851. Houstoun also writes of a plantation owned
by Col. John Houstoun McIntosh which existed from the early 1820's until its
destruction by the Indians during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). A
description of the Indians burning Col. McIntosh's sugar mill is included in an account
dating back to the time. While several deeds record his ownership of lands around
McIntosh, Col. McIntosh never actually owned the townsite. However, his colorful
reputation while serving with the Georgia 4th Regiment during the Second Seminole
Indian War, plus ownership of the plantation, may have suggested the name for the
On February 2,1849, Nehemiah Brush, a merchant from Baltimore, bought a large
portion including 4,000 acres of the Arrendondo Spanish land grant that today
encompasses McIntosh, at a government auction held in nearby Micanopy. His son,
Col. Charles Brush, along with Eugene and Julia Brush (Van Ness) developed the area
that today encompasses McIntosh, into building lots and ten-acre plots for growing
citrus. At that time, oranges were shipped by ferry on Orange Lake to Palatka and
then north by way of the St. Johns River. In 1881, following the Civil War and
Reconstruction, the Florida Southern Railway (later the Seaboard Railway Co.) was
constructed in McIntosh aiding in the transport of locally produced vegetables and
oranges to distant markets, and, additionally, provided passenger travel. The
completion of Florida Southern Railroad was a significant occurrence, as it
stimulated the development of much of the interior of peninsular Florida, and the
McIntosh Depot was built in 1885.
As an incentive to settlement, Col. Brush filed the first plat in 1885 and offered to
donate a lot within the residential area "to any settler who will build a house of a
certain value." When Col. Brush became seriously ill, Eugene Van Ness assumed
management of McIntosh. Eugene Van Ness filed the second plat in 1888 in
anticipation of the Town's commercial development. Circulars were printed and
distributed in the North promoting the settlement of McIntosh.
The residential areas of McIntosh developed west of the railroad and the early
business areas because higher ground was more desirable for homes. During the
period from the late 1880's to the early 1900's frame houses were constructed in
these areas. Built mostly of hard yellow pine, the predominant architectural style of
the district is frame vernacular, or 'cracker', with styles evident of Gothic Revival,
Queen Anne, and Bungalow.
Horses were still the chief means of transportation, but by 1895, McIntosh boasted a
doctor, postmaster, Western Union, a church, meat store, school, drug store, ice
house, millinery shop, the McIntosh Hotel, Christian Mercantile Store, grocery stores,
Masonic Hall, and packing houses. The Town was incorporated by an act of the
Legislature in 1913, with the charter providing for a mayor and town council.
From the late Spanish era of the 19th century up until the 1980's, agriculture was the
main source of economy. The Town's agricultural economy prospered in the early
20th century, and the economy was aided by tourists who came by railroad to hunt
and fish at Orange Lake. Following several disastrous freezes, commercial citrus
ventures were mainly abandoned, and the last train passed through McIntosh in 1974.
Farmers diversified into cattle and horses, with pastures replacing the vegetable
fields and orange groves.
By the end of 1923, "The North Marion News" was published weekly in town with the
last issue being printed in 1942. The Old Wire Road, a dirt wagon and stagecoach
route and the present U. S. Hwy. 441, was eventually widened and paved, along with
Avenue f and Avenue G, and the commercial district moved from near the Depot and
railroad easement up to the highway.
Unlike most towns and cities in Florida, the Town of McIntosh has changed little since
the 1930's. The McIntosh Historic District was designated on November 18, 1983
with 68 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district extends
west from 4th Street to 10th Street and south from Avenue D to Avenue H. The
McIntosh Historic District is significant for its tangible, largely unaltered,
representation of an important period in the history of Florida.
In 1991, McIntosh hosted the movie filming of 'Doc Hollywood' starring Michael J. Fox
and Woody Harrelson.
McIntosh Thrives, But Quietly - July 5, 2006
|A spectacular view of
Prior to completion of the
railroad, oranges were
shipped by ferry on Orange
Lake to points north.
|McIntosh Railroad Depot
Built in 1885
The completion of the
Florida Southern Railroad
stimulated development of
much of interior peninsula
|Town of McIntosh
|Step back in time...
A town that has changed
little since the 1930's
|Following disastrous freezes,
commercial citrus ventures
were mostly abandoned.
Cattle and horse pastures
replaced vegetable fields and
|Website by Debbie Gonano, Town Manager/ Clerk
|The Orange Lake
Overlook was a great
place to view
|Black Swan Park