Southern Matters

Southern Matters

Nicholson Farmhouse (Havana, Florida)

Malcolm Nicholson, a Scottish emigrant, acquired a 4000-acre plantation in Gadsden County and build the Farmhouse in 1828, less than 10 years after Florida was acquired from Spain. It was home to several generations of Nicholsons until it was sold in 1971. The new owners restored the house, lived there, and sometimes operated a gift shop out of it. Paul Nicholson, Malcolm’s great-great grandson, bought the house in 1987. Paul, a successful businessman, had longed to operate a restaurant, and he and partners opened the restaurant in 1988. Paul loved people and he loved old things. His restaurant, up a cowpath on fifty acres of the original plantation, miles from any place, quickly became a success. It is now a complex of buildings and seats more than 600 diners.

Sadly, Paul was killed in a vehicle crash in South America in the mid-1990s. The restaurant has again passed from the family, but bears the unmistakable stamp of Paul’s hand although it is not quite the same to those of us who enjoyed it earlier. As an incidental point, Doug Croley (who has a Chattanooga No.14) was in the accident with Paul and escaped with his life. Syrup has not been made since Paul died, but the machinery is intact and displayed.


Slides 1 and 2 are different shots of a Golden No. 4x. This is a very powerful machine that inspires awe. All of us have certain prejudices that are not easily explained. One person may choose one or another sports team. The next person favors a particular brand of automobile. For me, it is Golden’s mills, probably only because that is what my grandfather had.


Paul was set up to make syrup in a kettle (Slide 3) as well as with an evaporator (Slide 4). Slide 5 is an interesting collection of various kettles, including syrup kettles.