Cindy and Joe returned to Gainesville after a thirteen-year absence to restore the Baird Mansion into Magnolia Plantation Bed and Breakfast Inn in 1990. They were married in Gainesville in 1977 when Joe was in his final year at the College of Civil Engineering at the University of Florida. Like many college students they could not wait to leave Gainesville and moved to Texas to work and live. When they returned to Central Florida to live they began the six football weekend pilgrimages to the Gator Football games and rediscovered Gainesville from a non-student perspective. Soon they found themselves coming up to visit Gainesville on non-football weekends at various times of the year. That’s when they discovered that Gainesville had an historic district with Victorian Homes. Since Cindy and Joe had discovered the wonderful experience of staying at a bed and breakfast inn in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1985 they talked about the possibility of opening their own inn someday, somewhere.
In 1990 Cindy and Joe purchased the Baird Mansion, or at least what was the Baird Mansion. Hippies and college students had inhabited it for 30 years. It was more like Animal House than a Victorian mansion. It was love at first site when Joe first saw the house but Cindy was a little apprehensive. The house was filled with debris, 20 mattresses, 7 couches, 30 banana trees, dog poop in the central hallway and other outstanding features. Of course, all this was left in the house for Cindy and Joe to deal with after the closing.
Cindy and Joe restored the 1885 French Second Empire Victorian Mansion to Magnolia Plantation and opened the Inn on May 3, 1991. Since then the inn has received many honors including: "Best Bed and Breakfast in Florida" by Florida Living Magazine and "Most Romantic Bed and Breakfast in Florida" by Most Romantic Escapes in Florida guidebook. The Inn and Cindy's recipes have been featured in a variety of guidebooks and cookbooks. Articles have appeared in such publications as Southern Living, Victorian Decorating Ideas, Florida Living and The Orlando Sentinel
Photos/Info—One bedroom (queen bed), fireplace, one bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and fireplace, separate sitting room, second story, 600 sq. ft., wraparound balcony overlooking two gardens. Perfect for honeymooners.
Photos/Info—One or two bedrooms (one queen bed and one double bed), one bathroom, fireplace in living room, front and back open porches with large yard. Some pets are OK.
Photos/Info—One bedroom (queen bed), one bathroom with large walk-in shower, living room, kitchen and private garden.
Photos/Info—Two or three bedrooms (two queen beds, two twin beds) and one or two bathrooms, large living space, front and back open porches with garden access. Great for two couples with kids.