Florida State Parks 75th Anniversary Logo
The Maclay House shortly after the property became a state park in 1954 and originally named Killearn Gardens. Boating and swimming in Lake Hall was a popular park activity, Labor Day 1958. Maclay Gardens is prized for its beautiful spring blooms and some of the best are the azaleas along the reflecting pool shown here in 1965. The Azalea Hillside, designed in the 1920s, features an understory comprised of three beds of flowering azaleas below towering native pines.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
An early improvement was the garden entrance building in 1955.

History and Culture

New York financier Alfred B. Maclay bought the land in 1923 and created this masterpiece of floral architecture for his family's southern retreat on the rolling hills overlooking Lake Hall. The Maclays entertained many prominent people here, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Originally named Killearn Plantation and Gardens for Maclay's ancestral home in Scotland, the park was later renamed to honor their creator. After Maclay's death in 1944 his wife, Louise Maclay, continued developing the gardens and in 1953 donated it to the state. The Lake Overstreet property was acquired in 1994. The gardens and park were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

LeRoy Collins accepts the the property from Louise Fleischman Maclay and daughter, Georgianna M. Bowers in 1954.

1954 Ceremony

Louise Fleischman Maclay, widow of Alfred B. Maclay, and their daughter, Georgianna M. Bowers, formally presented the Maclay Gardens property to the state of Florida during a ceremony held in January 1954. Doak S. Campbell, then president of Florida State University, accepted the gift on behalf of the governor. The 307-acre property encompassed a treasure trove of historic structures and sites of cultural or historical significance. The property's many structures included tenant-farmer cabins, well-equipped horse stalls and the family's winter residence, the historic Maclay House. The park was originally named Killearn Gardens State Park and renamed Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in the 1970s.

Governor Rubin Askew speaks during a memorial ceremony dedicating the Walled Garden to Louise F. Maclay.

1974 Dedication

Louise Fleischman Maclay died in 1974. Her daughter, Georgianna M. Bowers, asked that the Walled Garden be dedicated to Mrs. Maclay. Florida Governor Rubin Askew spoke during a memorial ceremony dedicating the Walled Garden to Louise F. Maclay.

Park Services Specialist Ken Lewis leads a tour of the newly-acquired Lake Overstreet property.

Park Tour

Consisting of 873 acres, the Lake Overstreet addition to Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is comprised of mixed pine and hardwood forests, hammocks and ravines. Lakes Hall and Overstreet are examples of area upland lakes. The Lake Overstreet property was acquired in 1994 through a Trust for Public Land purchase with assistance from private individuals and the city of Tallahassee. The property is part of the Maclay-Phipps Cultural Heritage Greenway. The Lake Overstreet Trail allows visitors on foot, bicycle or horseback to experience this parcel of wilderness tucked away within the state capital of Florida.

Park Maintenance Mechanic Wilburt Gillam uses a front-end loader to repair trail erosion after a heavy rain.

Resource Management

Recently retired, Maintenance Mechanic Wilburt Gillam was a part of Alfred B. Maclay's resource management team for decades. The Gillam family name has been involved in caring for the natural and cultural resources since the 1920s. Family member, Edmund Gillam Sr., lived onsite and worked on the Maclay Plantation (circa 1920s-1940s). Since becoming a park, staff and volunteers work to maintain the 28-acre ornamental gardens, historic buildings and natural areas.

Volunteer Alice Pfluke cheerfully dispenses hot apple cider and cookies during the park¿s Camellia Christmas event in 2003.

Volunteer Work

Volunteers are crucial to a park's success. Alice Pfluke has been a volunteer at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens since 1999. Alice has logged hundreds of volunteer hours in the gardens and regularly works special events. From horticulture to administration, volunteers lend their skills to assist staff in accomplishing management goals.