Situated near Tallahassee, Oak Hill Plantation — the home of T. K. Wetherell and his wife, Virginia — just hit the market. In case you are not familiar, T.K. was president of Florida State University from 2003 to 2010 and served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1980 to 1992. Virginia served as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 1991 to 1998 and previously served as a state legislator. The Wetherells are like royalty in Florida, and their Red Hills country home makes for a palace with a Southern drawl. The 1,000-plus acre spread borders on media mogul Ted Turner’s storied Avalon plantation — a 32,000 acre tract Architectural Digest calls “a naturalist’s paradise.”
The Red Hills region is known for scenic natural beauty, a cause the Wetherells have taken to heart and worked to preserve. Here’s a look at the plantation home of the couple broker Jon Kohler calls “Florida’s First Couple of Conservation.”
Oakhill Plantation is located 30 miles from between Tallahassee, Florida and Thomasville, Georgia. The 1,000-plus-acre site in what’s known as the Red Hills region is graced with an approximately 15-acre lake and a 8,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bath Greek Revival-style main house constructed by well-regarded home builder Skip Sheffield.
The owners took inspiration for the home’s design from the historic Asa Mays house in Capps, Florida, incorporating found architectural elements from historic Floridian buildings at auction or being demolished. Design began with four 19th-century windows from the Old Floridian Hotel in Tallahassee that were incorporated into the house’s frame to mark the north, south, east, and west corridors. Thirteen-foot ceilings accommodate large windows. Other historic elements punctuate the structure: The entry porch opens to a grand foyer showcasing a staircase constructed of pine from the iconic Old Ormond Hotel built by Henry Flagler in Ormond Beach in the 1800s. There is a formal living room, formal dining room, library with an attached reading area, additional living area with a bar, a kitchen outfitted with Viking and SubZero appliances, and an informal dining area; a butler’s pantry, a separate caterer’s kitchen; an office, a theatre room which features light fixtures and pediments from the old Florida Capital, and a screened-in back porch which overlooks a backyard with picture-pretty landscaping, a gazebo, a water feature and courtyard. Heart of pine flooring used throughout, fire mantels, most of the door knobs, and other features were also salvaged from the Old Ormond Hotel. A second-floor porch overlooks the lake.
Other structures include a 1,600-square-foot guest house/manager’s house; a three-car garage built to look like a carriage house; a gathering lodge with a living room, kitchen, loft bedroom, workshop, and attached three-stall equipment barn; a skeet-shooting area; a separate office “man cave;” and a screened in cook shack to facilitate entertaining at the lodge.
A paved, live oak-lined drive leads to the home, which is about 10 minutes from access to I-10. The heavily treed, rolling terrain surrounding the structures is a rich, diverse habitat for whitetail deer, turkeys, and quail. The approximately 15-acre lake has a natural spring. Walking trails include the old St. Augustine Road which passes through the property.
It’s the land that listing broker Jon Kohler finds most striking. “I look at plantations every day,” said Kohler. “Very few have the amount of ecotones, habitat types, ground cover, timber diversity, water, and game flow as Oak Hill. To have that on 1,000 acres is even more remarkable.” Oak Hill Plantation is listed for $10.7 million. Contact Jon Kohler of Jon Kohler & Associates for more details.