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Living In Tallahassee

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  • The Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee

    If you are looking for a free thing to do with kids in the air conditioning during the heat, or under cover during an afternoon or rain, visit the Historic Capitol Museum in downtown Tallahassee. They ask for a donation, but it is not required.

    There are lots of rooms and two levels to explore. The tour guides are awesome references. It’s a great way to spend 2-4 hours!

    The history of the Historic Capitol

    You can arrange a group tour with an experienced tour guide if you have a group.  The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm. They are also open on Saturdays at 10 am and Sundays at noon.

    The museum has two floors of exhibits and artifacts. Check out the scavenger hunts! They are family-friendly and will occupy the kids for a couple of hours. There is a lot to see on those two floors.

    Construction started on the previous capitol building in 1826. However, it was torn down in 1939 so that the present structure of the historical capitol could be built. The building was finished in 1845, just before Florida’s admission to the United States as the 27th state.  Many additions have been made to the Historic Capitol through the years.

    The dome was added by architect Frank Milburn in the first expansion in 1902. The wings and marble interior were added in 1932 by Henry Klutho. The House chamber was added in 1936, and the Senate chambers were added in 1947.

    In the late 1970s, the plan for the new capitol building included the demolition of the historic capitol building. It was saved by a citizen’s group and restored to its 1902 appearance.  For more information, check out the historic capital museum’s website.

    Wander Through The History of Tallahassee in the Historic Capitol Museum

    What history!

    The Historic Capitol Museum is in the heart of the Capitol Complex. It is amazing to walk the halls and imagine all the famous and infamous people whose footsteps also fell on these floors.  At one point in time, this building held all three branches of Florida’s government!  Here are some things to check out on your tour.

    Room 119D – The Historic Museum’s Exhibit for Gideon v. Wainwright

    They would force me to give up my Criminology degree if I did not point out this important historic exhibit. Just kidding, but if you haven’t heard the story of how the United States ended up with a public defender system, take some time to read the story. An impoverished Florida man named Clarence Gideon challenged and changed the entire legal system in the United States in the 1960s. Because of the Gideon v. Wainwright case that reached the United States Supreme Court, individuals now have the right to a court-appointed attorney when they are accused of a crime.

    First Floor 119A Supreme Court Chamber

    The Supreme Court of Florida met in this courtroom from 1903 until 1913. They relocated to their own building. This restoration is based on a 1911 photograph. It includes many original furnishings. For example, the twenty-four-foot-long bench is made of golden oak and cost $350 in 1902.

    The Second Floor Rotunda of the Historic Capitol Museum

    The art glass sub-dome above the second-floor rotunda has a cool story. Lost and stored, it was found and restored during one of the many renovations. The grand staircase is a great way to get group shots. You do not see construction touches like the crown molding at the top of the twenty-two-foot-high ceilings anymore. We like to hang out in the long hallways between the House and Senate chambers and imagine the conversations that took place there. The windows provide a scenic view of the Capitol grounds and Apalachee Parkway.

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