Evidence points to George Proctor, a free black man, as the probable builder of this structure in 1843. The house was a wedding gift for Catherine Gamble, the bride of attorney Thomas Hagner. In 1865 the house was used as temporary Union Headquarters by Brigadier General Edward McCook. On May 20th, 1865, McCook read the Emancipation Proclamation from the front steps of the house, declaring freedom for all slaves in the Florida Panhandle.
After the Civil War a locally prominent physician, George Betton, bought the house, bringing with him a young buggy driver named William Gunn, a former slave. When Gunn expressed an interest in learning medicine, Betton funded his study at medical school and helped him establish a practice in Tallahassee. Gunn became Florida's first black physician.
In 1928 the Knott family acquired the house, had the front columns added, and lived here until 1985. William Knott served athe State of Florida for over forty years as its first State Tax Auditor, as Comptroller, and Treasurer. His wife Luella Knott was an artist, musician, and poet. She named her home "The House That Rhymes," and filled it with Victorian era furnishings. Almost every piece is adorned with a poem narrating history and moral lessons, written with charm and wit. Luella was also a political activist. The sale of alcohol was banned in the state's capital for over fifty years, in part because of Mrs. Knott's involvement with the temperance movement.