A Tally of Florida’s Capital
by Megan Kopp
The 22-storey new Capitol looms like a big brother over its aging counterpart, the restored 1904 Old Capitol building.
Photo credit: M. Kopp - Click to Enlarge
|Named for an Apalachee
Indian word meaning “old town”, Tallahassee was declared as
Florida’s capital on March 4, 1824.
Today this southern city has close to 150 properties listed on
the National Register of Historic Places.
On a recent trip, I did a tally of a few favorite historical
Number one attraction is the Old
Capitol. Snappy red-and-white striped awnings adorn the restored 1904
structure. My neck was a
little stiff after staring in awe at the gracefully replicated
Tiffany-style glass dome, in addition to checking out exhibits dealing
with the state’s political history, restored Senate chambers, House
of Representatives and Supreme Court - complete with the magnificently
carved, quarter-sawn oak Justice’s bench.
Two, Three and Four are churches.
Gleaming white, the First Presbyterian Church (Park Avenue
& North Adams Street), built in the late 1830’s, was used by
early settlers as a barricaded fort during the Seminole Wars.
On North Monroe Street, the brick-red St.
John’s Episcopal Church was rebuilt in 1880 after a fire destroyed the
original wooden building. The youngest of the three is the now 102-year-old
St. James Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, one block off the Old City
is the Old City Cemetery itself. A
walking tour takes on a whole new dimension when you stop to visit Elizabeth
(Bessie) Budd Graham’s grave, facing west instead of east.
Rumors float around that maybe she was a witch.
Established in 1829 by the Territorial Legislative Council, the
cemetery was originally outside of Tallahassee’s city boundaries.
Civil War-era graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers can also
(minus two) is the number of massive white columns fronting “The
Columns.” Built of brick in
1830 and falsely rumored to have a nickel baked in every brick by owner
William “Money” Williams, The Columns is Tallahassee’s oldest
remaining residence (moved once to its current location on Park Avenue and
South Duval Street). It is also rumored to be haunted by Rebecca, a Civil
War widow who is still pacing the floors, waiting for her husband’s
return. I searched second story
windows with a keen eye, but didn’t catch a ghostly glimpse.
are the parks along Park Avenue. The
majority of this group of seven, also known as the Chain of Parks, were
established in the late 19th Century, were planted by the Tallahassee
Improvement Association (TIA). In
the 21st Century, I strolled under towering live oak trees gaily draped with
flowing Spanish moss through Ponce de Leon Park (the first of the parks to
be established), Lewis Park, Cherokee Park, E. Peck Greene Park, McCarty
Park, Bloxham Park and Genevieve Randolph Park (named after the woman who
spearheaded the work of TIA).
attraction number eight is the Knott’s House. Originally built in the
1840’s, Luella Knott’s whimsical ditties and early 1930’s lifestyle
are displayed in the Knott House Museum (Park Avenue & South Calhoun
Street). William Knott (State
of Florida’s first State Tax Auditor) purchased the home in 1928, adding
gracious white columns to the front. His
wife Luella made it “The House That Rhymes.”
Be sure to check out the exercise bike in the upper bathroom - it
would appear that Luella was not only concerned with art, literature and
ten and eleven are the Knott’s House neighbors - the Chittenden House,
Murphy House and Wood House. It was Mrs. Chittenden herself who was responsible for having
Park Avenue so named, seems the original McCarty Street just wasn’t
glamorous enough as a return address for her son’s wedding invitations.
The neighboring Murphy House (c. 1838) is one of the oldest buildings
along all of Park Avenue. Elaborate woodworking detail is a key feature of the Wood
House, named original owner Henry O. Wood, a lumberman.
|Twelve (plus two
thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight) equals the acreage of the
Goodwood Plantation at its peak.
Today’s Goodwood Museum and Gardens still stand on the low
rise of land chosen for its cool breezes and are comprised of 19 acres
and over a dozen buildings dating back to 1830’s, including the
Rough House (where family members escaped the social refinements of
the Big House to have a little fun).
also the Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens (c. 1923),
the Tin Front Store (c. 1890), Lively’s Corner (c. 1875), the John
G. Riley House (c. 1895), the Brokaw-McDougall House (c. 1856) and its
140-year-old live oaks in the Calhoun Historic District ...
was that number sixteen or seventeen?
hate having to recount.
... the Old Capitol ...
further information, contact the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors
Bureau at (800) 628-2866 and request a copy of “A Guide to Historic
Sites” or the “Walking Guide to Historic Downtown”, or visit online at
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Megan Kopp is a freelance writer published in a variety of markets including
Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living, Western People, YES Magazine, Western Parent, Northwest Family and The Traveler’s Journal.
She has traveled extensively throughout Western Canada and the United States;
spent time in the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, Costa Rica,
Mexico, and Belize and have recently been re-directing her writing efforts towards sharing my passion for new sights, smells and