Friday, October 23 – Tallahassee, Florida, surprised us in that it is not the very large city we expected to find. With a population around 200,000 people, it is probably considered small for a state capitol. Especially the State Capitol of the third most populated state in the country.
We loved the red and white striped awnings in place on the exterior of the windows that receive direct sunlight. These duplicate those that were on the original building in 1890.
It's pretty easy to get around. Rush hour doesn't involve the bumper-to-bumper traffic that lasts for hours in some of the larger cities. There was even plenty of metered parking spaces available on the streets around the Capitol building.
We started our Capitol tour with a stop at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. This free museum is housed in the old Capitol building and traces the history of Florida's state government from 1824 when Tallahassee became the capital to the present. This building was expanded several times as Florida grew from a state of about 60,000 people in 1824, to a population over 20 million today.
We really enjoyed the museum and would have probably spent more time wondering through some of the exhibits if it wasn't for the two bus loads of young middle school children that arrived shortly after we began the tour.
In 1972, a new capitol building was built behind the existing building. This new building is an unattractive 22-story skyscraper that now houses the state government. The old building was then restored to its 1902 condition. It was originally scheduled to by demolished but luckily, Floridians demanded that it be saved.
The $43 million structure was designed to reflect “modern” Florida rather than the traditional brick and column design of most state capitol buildings. Three other State Capitols use the tower design (Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota). The Senate and House were not in secession today (It's Friday after all!) and, unfortunately the public gallery to view these areas was also closed.
The Plaza Level (ground floor) is known as the Rotunda. The center of the rotunda is dominated by the Great Seal of Florida. The Governor's office is down the south wing off the rotunda. Along the hallway to the Governor's reception area hang portraits of recent Governors. The Plaza Level also houses Florida's elected Cabinet, the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture.
The fifth floor overlooking the lobby between the two legislative chambers is a collection of Florida Facts. This floor also contains the observation areas over the Senate and House of Representatives.
The 22nd floor observation deck can be reached by choosing one of six high speed elevators that zoom you up to the enclosed observation area. The east side contains the Capitol Gallery and features an ever-rotating exhibit of the work of Florida resident artists. On each side of the deck is a kiosk indicating viewing points of interest.
There are several monuments on the grounds of the capitol. The Law Enforcement Memorial dedicated to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, a Vietnam memorial honoring those Floridians killed in action, a Civil War monument, and many others. On the west lawn is the “Stormsong.” A sculpture of a pod of playful dolphins paying within the Florida Heritage Fountain.
YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS TO BELIEVE THIS! We went up to the Tallahassee Elks Lodge for a couple of drinks with the local crowd and boy were we surprised. Not only is this one of the friendliest lodges we've been in but their lodge ceremony room is amazing.
They have the antique furniture from the New York Lodge NUMBER 1. The oldest Elks Lodge in the country. It's quite a story!
Lewis Lively, a member and one of the founders of the Tallahassee Lodge, visited the New York Lodge #1 in the summer of 1912. At the time, the NY Lodge had just completed a new building and furnished it with new furniture. The Tallahassee lodge had also just completed the building at their current location so Lewis persuaded the NY Lodge to sell him the furniture for $1400. He had the furniture shipped to Tallahassee along with all the rugs off the floor and a large Elk head.
The furniture was the first ever designed, built and installed solely for an Elks Lodge. Many men of prominence took their obligation at its altar. Among them, Will Rogers and other famous men of the theatre and other professions.
The Tallahassee Lodge has attempted to accurately date the furniture and have reached the conclusion that it must have been constructed between 1871 and 1880. They have not been able to get an accurate evaluation of its value. When asked if the general public of Tallahassee knows this beautiful furniture is in the lodge the board member showing us around replied that he didn't think so.
Another amazing find!
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!