Mcfarlin House a gem in historic old Quincy
The McFarlin House Inn is located at 305 E. King St., Quincy, FL 32351; 850-875-2526. www.mcfarlinhouse.com (McFarlin House Inn )
Then, as now, agriculture was the main industry of the area. Today, mushrooms, tomatoes and blooming plants predominate, but there were also significant deposits of fuller's earth, that fine clay-based substance traditionally used for removing grease and oil from cloth and for cleansing refined oils and animal fats, and finally as kitty litter.
In 1830, tobacco was introduced as an important cash crop. Later in the century, northern capital was invested in the county's famous shade leaf tobacco, grown under cheesecloth-covered fields, cultivated, harvested and stored completely by hand. The highly lucrative crop in that corner of "ta-bakkey" country was used only to wrap the finest cigars, and the industry dominated the local economy until the 1970s. Cigar box manufacturers prospered, as did the workers who toiled in the drying sheds and packing houses, which every autumn attracted buyers from all over the country, bidding for bunches of the golden leaf.
Lesser, mass-produced cigars were rolled and shipped out of Quincy, including our first commercial stogies, Robert Burns and White Owl, cured and stored in an 1891 warehouse at 404 Madison St. The May Tobacco Co. was at 104 East Washington.
Descriptions and locations of these buildings, plus many others of note -- representing antebellum Classical Revival, Queen Anne and ginger leaf Victorian styles, including one with stunning Tiffany windows -- are listed in a handy walking-tour guide available in the visitor center at 221 North Madison. They are all easy to find in the 36-block section of downtown on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also easy to find is your base camp, the 1895 McFarlin House, a three-story Queen Anne achievement, complete with projecting bay front crowned by a pinnacle roof, stained glass windows, steep gables and decorative second-floor boarding, casement windows and encircling veranda.
Inside, the large living room flows freely into the other rooms and there are fireplaces with French mantle imports, pressed ceilings and a dominating yet exquisite staircase leading to the guest rooms. There are nine of them, and each has private bath, temperature control, telephones and cable TV. Some of the rooms have working fireplaces and Jacuzzis. Furnishings and artifacts are loyal to the period, as are all the reminders of the early days of the Coca-Cola Co. It seems that local tobacco moguls and a few others who followed their lead invested in the new company across the border. They must have made millions.
Innkeepers Tina and Richard Fauble can give you some of the history and they can provide each and every bare-knuckle detail of their total rehabilitation of the historic mansion. They bought it eight years ago and carefully compiled a photo album detailing their dedication to the fine art of bringing something significant back to life.
They also provide full breakfasts and all kinds of useful information on what to see and do outside Quincy's Historic District. Tallahassee, with its several outstanding museums, is worth at least a day, and there's nearby Havana, 10 miles northeast and sporting a good assortment of antique shops.
Between Quincy and Havana is the mini-museum of Nicholson Farmhouse (State Road 12 West) dating from 1828 and featuring a back-to-the-basics series of dining rooms where the char-grilled steaks are alone worth the trip (at wallet-friendly prices). But don't overlook the chicken, seafood or too-too tempting desserts.
IF YOU GO
Getting there: Quincy is at the intersection of U.S. 90 and State Roads 12, 65 and 267. The inn is in the Historic District.
Information: McFarlin House Inn, 305 E. King St., Quincy, FL 32351; 850-875-2526; www.mcfarlinhouse.com