We are offering a limited number of tours of the 1867 Matheson House to no more than 3 people at a time. Please call 352-378-2280 or email to schedule a house tour. It is possible that we can accommodate unscheduled tours during the museum’s open hours, but not guaranteed.


The 1867 Matheson House has an ADA accessible ramp. There is also one wheelchair accessible parking spot behind the house.

History of the House

The Matheson House, one of the three oldest residences in Gainesville, was completed in 1867 by James Douglas Matheson, an emigrant from South Carolina and a prominent merchant. The house was bequeathed to James’s son, Chris, who served as the mayor of Gainesville from 1910 through 1917; was a state legislator; and later became a Presbyterian minister. His wife, Sarah Hamilton Matheson, was the first female elder at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. Sarah helped form the Alachua County Historical Society and served as its president. She also co-founded the Matheson History Museum, which opened in 1994. Sarah deeded the Matheson House to the Alachua County Historical Society in 1977. The Society later merged with the museum.

1867 Matheson House with Augusta Steele.jpg
Augusta Florida Steele Matheson on the front steps of the Matheson House

A blend of South Carolina plantation and classic revival raised cottage architecture, the Matheson House incorporates Gothic decorative elements in roof finials and an interior stairway. The  gambrel roof and ceiling-to-ground porch columns are uncommon in Florida. Inside, period furniture and personal possessions are a testament to the Matheson family’s history and also reveal the early history of Gainesville.

Sarah Matheson 1976 on Matheson House porch
Sarah Matheson on the steps of the Matheson House – 1976

More information on the Matheson House and the Matheson family is available in Murray Laurie’s 1999 book, “The Matheson House of Gainesville, Florida: Sheltering the Past.” Copies are available in the Matheson’s research library.