May 3 – Florida State Capitol – Governor’s Mansion – The Grove Plantation House

Today is day 1,100 of our RVing life!

On our drive into the heart of Tallahassee, we were struck by the overwhelming predominance of huge live oaks draped with Spanish Moss

and the almost absence of palm trees, with those we did see having been imported for decorate landscaping purposes.

Also of interest was the very hilly topography … we were later told that the city has nine major hills, with the State Capitol and Governor's Mansion sited on two of them … and the boundaries of the city which appear to have taken gerrymandering to new hieghts!

Our first destination was the State Capitol … actually two capitols built 132 years apart.

During the first few years after Florida became a territory in 1822, legislators held alternating sessions in both St. Augustine, on teh Atlantic coast, and Pensacola, in the far western reaches of the panhandle.  As travel at that time was dangerous andcold take up to twenty days, it was an untennible aggrangement. 

Located almost halfway between was the then frontier town of Tallahassee ("Tallahassee" is a Muskogean Indian word often translated as "old fields" or "old town", and it likely stems from the Creek … later called Seminole … Indians who migrated from Georgia and Alabama to this region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) which was chosen for as the new capital in 1824.

In 1845, the year that Florida became the 27th state, a new brick capitol building was completed.

BOth the front and rear porticos were dignified with six Doric columns, eachmeasuring 34 feet in height and 13 feet in circumfrence.


Over the next century and a quarter, the old capitol building was expanded and both a dome an later a copula were added.

All three branches of the state's government were housed under its roof until 1912 when teh Supreme Court moved out.

After the new "tower" building was completed in 1977, the state considered tearing down the old building.  However, a successful preservation movement spontaneously arose. The decision was made to restore it to its 1902 state, and this was completed in 1982.  Today the faithfully restored building serves as Florida's Historic Capitol Museum. 

Rotunda Stairs

Interior Dome

Supreme Court Chamber

House Chamber

Original Desk and Chair from 1845

Senate Chamber

Governor's Offices

Private office

Outer Secretarial office

Guest Bench

This grand old building also has dozens of extremely interesting exhibits …

Mutoscope – popular during the early twentieth century

Jai Alai Pelota

mid-19th century school room bench

Remnant of segregation

World War I Photographic Archives

Florida case:  Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), is a landmar case in the US Supreme Court. . In it, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states are required under the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys.

Dierctly behind is the Old State Capitol is the New State Capitol.

The Capitol is usually referred to as a twenty-two-story building with a height of 345 feet. However, including the 3 underground floors, it is a 25-story building (the 6th floor is only accessible through the freight elevator). 

State Seal on Plaza Floor

Plaza Level Murals

Staircase to Lower Level

Welcome to Florida Between Plaza and Second Floors


Information on Florida Between 4th and 5th Floors

House Chamber

Representative recognizing a championship football team from his distirct

Senate Chamber

Governor's and Lieutennant Governor's Outer Offices

Attorney General's Outer Office


The 22nd floor's observation deck is 300 feet and offers 306o views of Tallahassee and the surrounding area.

Three aera churches, the one to the left, St. Johns, the oldest in Tallahassee

Florida State University in foreground and one of several large fires on teh horizon

Vietnam Memorial

Leaving the New State Capitol, we passed "Stormsong", a sculpture of playful dolphins

and crossed the street to Supreme Court Building

withits concrete barrier and blast-proof doors.


Area Outside Court Chambers

Lady Justice

Lady Justice is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.  There are four distinctive features of Lady Justice: a set of scales, a blindfold, a sword and the garment she is wearing.  The scales are typically suspended from her left hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's support and opposition. The depiction dates back to ancient Egypt, where the God anubis was frequently depicted with a set of scales on which he weighed a deceased's heart against the Feather of Truth.  The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power or other status. The sword represented authority in ancient times, and conveys the idea that justice can be swift and final.  The Greco-Roman toga symbolizes the status of the philosophical attitude that embodies justice.

An Amazing Collelction of Documents

Minutes of Florida State Constitution Convention (1885)

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Hay's Memorial Address after the Assasination of President William McKinley

Cherokee Constitution in the Cherokee's  Language (circa 1875)

Court Chambers

Our next stop was the florida's Governor's Mansion

where we'd arranged for a private tour.

he original Governor's Mansion 

was built on the current site in 1907 and was occupied for nearly 50 years by a succession of eleven governors. In 1955, during the term of Governor LeRoy Collins, the first mansion was dismantled when it became structurally unsound. The current mansion was completed in 1956, and the First Family moved into their new home in the Spring of 1957.

While there were vrtually no access problems to teh original mansion, in today's 9-11 world, one can only get so close by car …

and then you need to be buzzed-in by a guard who wands you before actaully setting foot on the property.

The mansion's architectural style is Greek Revival and the central portico resembles that of another historic building near Nashville, Tennessee known as the Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson, Florida's first military governor. The mansion is designed to accommodate both private living and official entertaining for the chief executive of Florida.


18th Century Grandfather's Clock

Roy (r) and Walt (l) Disney meeting with Governor Haydon Burns and hus wife.  As a result of these meetings, the Disneys purchsed large tracts of land in central Florida … what we know today as the Disney World theme park complexes.

State Dining Room

USS Florida Silver Bowl


Public Living Room

First Floor Guest Bedroom Suite

Where many famous people have slept, including Presidents Carter, Bush 41 and 43 and Clinton


(added during Governor' Jeb Bush's tenancy)

The room contains an incredible library of books and other artifacts coverin four centuries of Florida and US history

Black leather combat-style boots worn by New York City policeman Bob Crystal at Ground Zero/World Trade Center site during the search and recovery operations.  They were presetned to Governor Bush on the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

A colletion of artifacts from the St.Augustine region

1.  St. John's Pottery Bowl (circa 1400-1500) from the Timucuas who inhabited Florida prior to the first Eurporean arrived.

2.  Timucuan Shell Hammer (cica early 16th century) Prior to the arrival of Eurpoeans, the Timucua people had no metal dools.  Rather their implements were made from Shells, Stones and Bones.

3.  Wooden Chocalatero Frother (circa early 17th century) Chocolate, a staple of teh Timucua was rapidly adopted by the early Spanish explorers.

4.  12 lb Cannon Ball (circa 18th century) St. Augustine was bombarded by the BRitish between 1702 and 1740 with cannon ballslike this.

5.  Spanish Olive Jar (circa 17th century) Typical of the jars were teh principal shipping containers of the time.  They were used to ship everything from wine, to olice oil to to soap to wheat.

6.  Engilsh Spirit Bottles (circa early 18th century) Bottles like these held wine, brand and rum in both homes and taverns.

Silver coin aggregate, 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet Shipwreck.  55.9 lbs.  The clump consists of one bag or approximately 1,000 silver reales concentrated together due to corrosion of the silver caused by the sale water in which they sank

Gold Bar removed from a Spanish shipwreck.  Due to the dates on teh silver coins also found at the same site, this shipwreck is thought to be teh San Miguel Arcangel, a courier ship whhich carried dispatches between Spain and her colonies.  The San Miguel left Havana late in 1659 o a return voyage to Spain but was wrecked and sank off the coast of Florida

Hnad Grenade with a Wooden Plug (1715 Spanish Plate Fleet shipwreck) Essentially a small bomb, the early hand grenade appeared in Europe during teh 15th century.The cast iron ball was filled with black gun powder, through which a fuse was inserted.

Governor LeRoy Collins – who was the first chief executive to live in the new mansion

"Florida" Room

Former patio before being enclosed and becoming the Florida Room

The mansion grounds include a screened swimming pool, cabana, exercise room, and beautiful brick patio area. There is also a greenhouse and its adjacent rose garden which provide many of the beautiful flowers and plants found inside the residence.  Two sculptures grace the property.

"Florida's FInest"

Playful Manatees

Our final, and originally unplanned, stop was the grove Mansion

not only located next door to the Governor's Mansion but which shares a unique history with it.

The Grove, known officially as the Call/Collins House at The Grove, is an antebellum plantation house.  The exact date of its construction is not clear, but he built for his new wife, Mary,

Richard Keith Call circa 1815

as a replica of his friend and mentor, Andrew Jackson's, Nashville home, The Hermitage. 

Andrew Jackson

It was built by enslaved craftsmen of African descent, many of whom were likely hired from other slave owners and had perhaps also worked to build Call’s railroad. The level of their craftsmanship can be seen in the building itself, which still stands after over 175 years. While Call owned a number of slaves at this time and later became a cotton planter, there is little evidence to suggest The Grove itself ever served as a major agricultural plantation.


Living Room

Osceola (1804 – January 30, 1838), born as Billy Powell, became an influential leader of the Seminole in Florida. Of mixed parentage, Creek, Scots-Irish, and English, he was raised as a Creek by his mother, as the tribe had a matrilineal kinship system.

When Mary died you in 1836, Call stopped much of the work on the house, as evidenced by the failure to complete the second story on the rear of the house over the glass enclsed sunroom.

By 1851, Call deeded the property to his daughter Ellen Call Long,

who owned it until 1903.

Richard Keith Call (circa 1860)

Long’s granddaughter Reinette Long Hunt

acquired the property and owned it until her death in 1940. Hunt opened The Grove Hotel during this era and developed onsite cottages that served as rental properties.

After a brief period under the ownership of John W. Ford and Josephine Agler, future Florida governor LeRoy Collins and his wife Mary Call Darby Collins, a great-granddaughter of Richard Keith Call, bought The Grove.

Mary Call Darby Collins was the last of Call’s descendants to own The Grove.

During LeRoy Collins’ tenure as governor, The Grove served as the unofficial executive residence

LeRoy Collin's Basement Office

while the current Florida Governor's Mansion was under construction from 1955 to 1957. The Collins family owned The Grove until 1985, when the state of Florida acquired the property for the purpose of creating a state historic house museum. The Collins family received life leases and lived there until their deaths.

Following the death of Mrs. Collins in 2009, the property formally reverted to the state.

The property includes a small active family cemetery that predates the current Grove residence and serves as the final resting place for several generations of the Call and Collins families.

Mary (r) and Richard (l) Call

surrounded by the graves of their eight children, only two of whom lived into adulthood

Note the above-ground rounded brick structures over several of the graves

LeRoy (l) and Mary (r) Collins

An interesting anecdote, as Governor, and married to the great grandaughter of the ardent slave-holder who built the Grove, LeRoy Collins became one of the country's

In 1954, LeRoy Collins becomes Florida's 33rd governor.  Although he is elected because of his popular record on public education, and creates Florida’s Community College System and three new state universities, he also becomes known as the first Southern governors to actively work toward desegregation in the South, and toward state reapportionment which would guarantee a "one man, one vote" principle.

Beginning in 1957, Governor Collins would become nationally known as a "spokesman of the New South” because of his public support of integration. He became chairman of the Southern Governors Conference in spite of the fact that some members disagreed with his ideas on education, reapportionment, and integration – a true illustration of his statesmanship. In 1958,

Governor Collins was named chairman of the National Governors’ Conference. He is the first governor to serve simultaneously as chairman of the National and Southern Governors' Conferences.  In 1960 he is elected as permanent chairman to the Democratic National Convention and presides over John F. Kennedy's nomination for the Office of President.

After retiring as Governor, he remained an outspoken advocate of civil rights. He is invited by President Lyndon Johnson to be present at the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Note one of the pens with which Presidnet Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964

and is later asked by the President to offer his leadership in securing the civil rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama.

In a period when southern governors campaigned and worked actively to preserve white supremacy and racial segregation in education, and public accommodations, LeRoy Collins openly supported the role of law and the Movement in the struggle for racial equality. His courage and leadership, culminating with his role in Selma (which is recalled by Professor Bass in “Taming the Storm”) was truly unique, and his role in Movement history distinguishes the state of Florida, which honors his legacy.

Thoughtout the the city, we noticed clusters of blue pinwheels.  

They are a visible token of Tallahassee's "Pinwheels for the Prevention of Child Abuse" program


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