Around the year 1835, E. E. Simpson constructed a three-story Louisiana-style mansion in the uplands south of the mill facilities. The house had a partial brick basement, which is preserved below ground. The first and second floors of the house were made of heart of yellow pine and the roof was made of wooden shingles. The front of the house was formal with porches on the first and second stories, with tall French doors leading into the house. The house was built on a bluff facing the Old Spanish Trail and Pond Creek, overlooking the mill complex.
During the 1840s, the Simpsons moved to Bagdad and used Arcadia as a “country house.” The Civil War forced many to flee the area including the Simpson family who fled to Alabama. Upon their return, the Simpsons built a large home in Pensacola at the corner of Palafox and Gregory Streets. Following E. E. Simpson’s death in 1875, his widow Susan decided to reopen the Arcadia house.
A wooden cabin also sat near the Simpson house, just west of the brick-lined well. The date of construction is unknown, but it was likely built around the same time as the Simpson house (ca. 1835). Archaeological investigations of this cabin have revealed architectural features including brick piers and the chimney foundation. The close proximity to the Simpson house and the recovery of low-status artifacts suggests this cabin was inhabited by enslaved African Americans. Two different individuals or families inhabited this saddlebag-style house, utilizing the double chimney and separate entrances.
During Summer 2018, archaeologists uncovered a unique feature related to the chimney foundation. A dark, circular stain was uncovered in front of the chimney suggesting the occupant pulled up the floor boards and dug a pit. This is common for vegetable storage inside root cellars, but this feature contained a large, metal concretion with broken turtle shell fragments sitting on top. An X-ray of the metal object revealed a circular metal artifact that is currently undergoing conservation at UWF. To learn more about this cabin, visit Life at The Place.
At the turn of the 20th century, this area was referred to as Arcadia Farm. Charles H. Simpson, son of E. E. and Susan, lived on the farm with his family and his mother, until her death in 1920. The house burned to the ground on March 1, 1935. Flue sparks started the fire, which spread so rapidly that the roof was gone before anyone realized it was on fire. Over the course of the year, a new house was built with materials from other buildings on the farm such as the bay window from the superintendent’s office.