The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Home, affectionately referred to as The Retreat, is the home of Bethune­-Cookman University’s legendary founder. The home was built as a model by African American architect and builder, Mr. A.B. Raddick in 1905.

The home was purchased in 1913 for Mrs. Bethune by Mr. James Norris Gamble, (the chemist who devised the formula for Ivory soap), and Mr. Thomas White of White Sewing Machine Company and was the primary residence of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune until her passing. The home has had minor renovations for preservation purposes but the interior design has remained as it was when Dr. Bethune resided there. Artifacts and furnishings are original to the home and were the personal belongings of Dr. Bethune.The Home retrojects visitors to the private life of one of the greatest women in history and provides glimpses into her daily routine, thoughts, preferences, and style. For instance, there are unique pieces within the home: a stove with a built-in crock pot and a desk that doubles as a wash basin. In the Dining Room you will find her record player which is testament to her love of music, a heater, a punchbowl gifted to her from the King Family which owned the local Coca-Cola Company, china gifted to her by John D. Rockefeller and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt whose china serves as place settings on the formal table. 

Tour guides entrance audiences with tales of the historic role of what was once dubbed “The Bethune Mansion,” the Black rose, the stained glass window and the many elephants observed throughout the home.  Visitors should expect to be tantalized by stories of notable visitors such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Bunche, and little known facts like this one: Contrary to popular belief, once she moved into the home she did not cook, and it was rare to find her in the kitchen. And this one, when entertaining guests, Dr. Bethune would sit at the head of the table so that she could clearly see the front door and also the kitchen staff. Visitors will also see her collection of famous African Americans, hair accessories, and clothes. 

On March 17, 1953, the Mary McLeod Bethune Home was established, according to Dr. Bethune, “as a place to awaken people and to have them realize that there is something in the world they can do.”  Since her death in 1955, the Home has been visited by thousands of visitors from around the globe each year to experience the legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. On December 2, 1974 (or 1975), the home was awarded designation as a National Historic Landmark by the United States Secretary of Interior and a United Methodist Historic Site No. 94.