The Capitol Complex
Florida's capitol complex, on South Monroe Street at Apalachee Parkway, dominates the downtown area and should be your first stop after the Tallahassee Area Visitor Information Center, just across Jefferson Street.
The New Capitol Building (tel. 850/488-6167), a $43-million skyscraper, was built in 1977 to replace the 1845-vintage Old Capitol. State legislators meet here for at least 60 days, usually beginning in March. The house and senate chambers have public viewing galleries. For a spectacular view, take the elevators to the 22nd-floor observatory, where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. You can also view works by Florida artists while up here. The New Capitol is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
In front of the skyscraper is the strikingly white Old Capitol (tel. 850/487-1902; www.flhistoriccapitol.gov). With its majestic dome, this "Pearl of Capitol Hill" has been restored to its original beauty. An eight-room exhibit portrays Florida's political history. Turn-of-the-20th-century furnishings, cotton gins, and other artifacts are also of interest. The Old Capitol is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm, Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm, and Sunday and holidays from noon to 4:30pm. Admission is free to both the old and new capitols.
The twin granite towers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are across Monroe Street from the Old Capitol. Next to it, facing Apalachee Parkway, the Union Bank Museum (tel. 850/561-2603) is housed in Florida's oldest surviving bank building. For a while, it was the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, which served emancipated slaves. Now part of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University's Black Archives Research Center, it houses a small but interesting collection of artifacts and documents reflecting black history and culture and is definitely worth a brief visit. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm; admission is free.
The Old Town Trolley will take you north of the capitol to the Georgian-style Governor's Mansion, at Adams and Brevard streets (tel. 850/488-4661). Enhanced by a portico patterned after Andrew Jackson's columned antebellum home in Tennessee, the Hermitage, and surrounded by giant magnolia trees and landscaped lawns, the mansion is furnished with 18th- and 19th-century antiques and collectibles. Tours are given when the legislature is in session, usually beginning in March. Call for schedules and reservations.
Adjacent to the Governor's Mansion, the Grove was home to Ellen Call Long, known as "The Tallahassee Girl," the first child born after Tallahassee was settled.
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