Sweetwater Branch Inn
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places located in Gainesville’s historic district, the Sweetwater Branch Inn is an eclectic blend of Victorian charm and Southern hospitality. Devoted to guests who are seeking the exceptional, our romantic Florida inn is well known for its comfort, beauty, and hospitality.
Sweetwater Branch Inn
Featured on the popular PBS television series, “Inn Country USA,” Sweetwater is a Victorian complex of two carefully restored Victorian-era mansions (the McKenzie House and the Cushman-Colson House), charming guest cottages, a modern reception hall, and beautifully sculptured gardens. At every turn, one can see a true testament to the finest in preserved Victorian Florida. Historic conservation is an important aspect of the goals of Sweetwater Inn’s owners. In addition, sharing the beauty and comfort that are a hallmark of Sweetwater’s reputation is a high priority.
Perry Colson purchased the home in 1903 and sold it to William Turner Pound, the first husband of Mary Phifer. In the 1920’s Mary Phifer married Reid Hill McKenzie. She lived in the McKenzie house until she was 83 years old. This is the location of five beautifully appointed Sweetwater Inn guest rooms.
The Cushman-Colson house, a Victorian, circa 1885, was one of the original Gainesville homes that lined old Alachua Avenue which is now University Avenue. The house is named after the Cushman family who lived in the house until 1905 and the family of Dr. James Colson, who lived there for 20 years. It has since been the home of several influential Gainesville families and reflects the tastes of the affluent at the turn of the century. The Cushman-Colson House hosts seven beautiful and unique Sweetwater Inn guest rooms.
The Holbrook Family
The McKenzie Home
While the homes have a history of their own, the Holbrook family, the owners and current Innkeepers, have a history with them as well. It all began with a knock at the door . . .
My mother, Giovanna Holbrook, frequently drove by the home in which you now find yourself. The McKenzie Home. It wasn’t long before she came to love it. Being the visionary that Giovanna is, she saw past the massive work the structure needed to fix its curled paint and deteriorating condition. Instead she saw the glimmers of what the McKenzie Home could become again.
At the youthful age of 15, I – Cornelia Holbrook – began to dream of the day when I would open an inn. During my teen years, gardening and cooking became my favorite after-school activities. Later, while attending the University of Florida, I worked with Chef Elmo at the once-famous Sovereign Restaurant. This is where I began the process of educating myself about food preparation and kitchen management. After college, my first job was with the Carriage Way Bed & Breakfast in St. Augustine, Florida.
In 1993, I opened the Sweetwater Branch Inn using the Cushman-Colson Home’s 7 guestrooms. Two years later, Sweetwater Branch Inn opened the McKenzie Hall; a distinctly popular gathering place in Gainesville. In 1998, my mother moved out of the McKenzie Home and I added 5 additional guest rooms to the Sweetwater Branch Inn.
Today the Sweetwater Branch Inn’s two acre property 1s home to 12 distinct guestrooms and a variety of lovely cottages – all shaded by beautiful southern hammocks. As of July 2016, the McKenzie Hall and Home has hosted as many as 4,000 weddings and celebrations. In 2015 I decided to open The Sweet Tea Restaurant with my friend Lester Smilowitz as a way to invite the community to engage with Sweetwater Branch Inn’s historic beauty.
Thankful for the support
A truly heartfelt thank you from me, my family, and especially the Sweetwater team.
The Sweetwater Branch Inn combines the best of Victorian charm and modern amenities.
Things to do
Do you need inspiration for things to do in Gainesville, FL? Our area is filled with exciting activities and attractions you’re going to love.
Nestled in historic downtown Gainesville in North Central Florida, our lovely inn is the perfect place for charming weddings, gorgeous receptions, and classy rehearsal dinners.
Meetings & Events
Sweetwater Branch Inn offers over 25 years of combined planning experience to help you create the perfect, seamless and effortless event.