Tallahassee boasts four National Register Historic Districts in or near downtown.  The Calhoun street and Park Avenue Historic Districts contain some of the finest Territorial Period architecture found in the state of Florida.  The Magnolia Heights Historic District reflects the architecture of Tallahassee's first suburb. The Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation has a wealth of information regarding each of the NRHD, in addition to other historic districts.


Way back in about 1824 the Layette Land Grant gave Gilbert du Motier, who was the Marquis de Lafayette, a township in the United States of his choice.  He hoped to establish a great plantation in Tallahassee to grow grapes and mulberry trees, along with olive trees.  He brought hundreds of French laborers to Tallahassee, but his dreams were never fully realized.  Some of the laborers returned to France, some moved to New Orleans, while many others settled in what was then the Northwest Quadrant of Leon County.  This settlement later became known as "Frenchtown."

After Emancipation and the end of the Civil War, many newly freed slaves moved from plantations to the nearby towns and cities.  Lots of them took up residence in the Northwest Addition with other black residents.  By the mid 1870's a permanent settlement was established.  The area became quite busy with businesses, schools and churches.  The Red Bird Club and Cafe DeLuxe provided a venue for famous musicians such as Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderley and BB King. 

The 1960's began a period of decline for Frenchtown.  From the 1920's through the 1950's Frenchtown was a booming area of commerce, community, and culture.

Those who remember the great days of Frenchtown, recall that it was referred to as "downtown" and what is now referred to as downtown, was then known as "uptown."   The Frenchtown neighborhood had a diverse architectural heritage.  The earliest recorded construction dates were around 1879-80 and 1890-95.  Most of the houses were of the one story shotgun style.  The make-up of the community was residental, with a central commercial corridor.  The area is currently undergoing a revitalization. Among the many upgrades and renovations has been the creation of A Walking Tour Guide for the area.  It has been created and produced by the John Riley House and Museum.  It contains a good map of the area, along with some oral histories of the area, which assist with helping the person touring Frenchtown, understand the times and places.  They are well worth reading, as they give a lot of insight into the every day life of the residents.

Julianne Hare's book "Frenchtown-Heart and Heritage in Tallahassee, Florida" reveals a mostly untold story that had a major and permanent impact on American society.  Our country actively recruited blacks to serve in a racially segregated military. Yet, these same soldiers were expected to keep their distance on the home front.  Push came to shove in Frenchtown when soldiers stationed at nearby Mabry Field and Camp Gordon Johnston got into it during August, 1944.  White police offices arrested black soldiers, and threatened to shoot into the crowd.  Many protests followed.  African-American soldiers were ordered to stay on their bases and were not allowed to come back to town.  White soldiers were welcomed.  This incident and a similar confrontation the next year were widely reported by the American print media.  Tallahassee wasn't the only place where protest took place, but the Frenchtown events were among those that directly influenced President Turman to issue Executive Order 9981 in 1948 and offically end segregation in the military. 



Myers Park is one of the city's earliest planned neighborhoods.  It is an area with extensive history, and delightful styles of architecture.  The Apalachee Indians lived in this area when the Spanish explored Florida in the 16th century.  Hernando de Soto spent the winter of 1539-40 camped nearby.  The Spanish established a mission system during the early 17th century to convert the native population to Catholicism.  One mission, La Purificacion de la Tama, was constructed on a hill about one half mile southwest of the present Capitol Complex.  This site is supposed to have been on the grounds of Myers Park, and pieces of Spanish pottery have been found on the Capital City golf course.

Tallahassee became the capital of Florida in 1824.  William P. DuVal who was Florida's first territorial governor, was one of the earliest U.S. propertyowners in the Myers Park neighborhood when he purchased a large tract of land in 1827. His home was erected where the present day tennis courts now stand.  DuVal sold his land by 1836.It changed hands a few time before the president of the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad bought it in 1840. By 1850, Edward Houston, the RR president, owned 1280 acres.  He named his plantation "Lakeland" in reference to the many ponds in the area.  Most of Myers Park was created out of his holdings.

During the Civil War, the economy of the area slowed considerably due to the federal naval blockade.  A series of forts was consructed to defend the capital, including the Fort Houston site at Old Fort Park. After the war, the economy still struggled.  Lakeland, however, fared well.  The plantation was transformed into a diversified farm operation that included dairy cattle, horses, sheep and pecan trees.

A section of land to the west of Lakeland was part of the Coles Farm.  John Coles and family came to the area just before the Civil War. Their sons purchased land that was eventually platted as Golf Terrace, Unit 2 in 1925. Their daughter married G. Perkins, who in 1912 purchase the Houston Plantation.  In the 1920's and 30's, he divided the land into the Country Club Estates and Woodland Drive subdivisions. He also initiated the construction of the golf course in 1915.  In 1924 he sold 200 acres to the Tallahassee Country Club, and the course was expanded to nine holes.

In 1925, the City of Tallahassee purchased almost 48 acres of undeveloped property for use as a public park.  It was named in honor of Frederick Towle Myers.  It was promoted along with the golf course as feature which contribute to the country-like feel of the neighborhood. The park has been kept largely in its natural wooded state, and over the years the city has added facitilites, a baseball field, playgournd and tennis courts.  The swimming pool, added in 1953, was named in honor of Wade Wehunt, who was the city's first superintendent of pools.

The Capital City Country Club and Golf Course, is private property.  The golf course was laid out by Fred elliott, chief engineer with the state's Internal Improvement Fund.  George Perkins who developed the course, built a club house at the edge of the course.  In 1922 the club house burned down.  By 1924, the Perkins family had deeded 200 acres to the Country Club, and the Club expanded the course to nine holes.  A new club housse was built by 1929, and in 1935 the Club deeded the land to the Ciy.  The course was expanded to 18 holes, and the name was changed to the Municipal Golf Course.  In 1956, the course was leased to the newly organized Capital City Country Club for $1 per year for 99 years.

Chapman Pond Park is a popular green space, east of Myers Park.  It has a two-acre pond known locally as the Duck Pond.  It was originally part of the Lakeland Plantation.  It was named Chapman in honor of Judge Roy H. Chapman, former Florida Supreme Court Justice and resident of the neighborhood.

Old Fort Park is also known as Fort Houston.  This site is a Confederate earthen breastworks built when Federal troops attempted to capture Tallahassee in March of 1865.  The invasion was planned to come from the coast south of Tallahassee, and this fort provided the Confederate soldiers with a command of both the St. Augustine and Plank roads, which were two of the main routes into the city. The Union force was stopped at the Battle of Natural Bridge while they were attempting to cross the St. Marks River.  As a result, Fort Houston saw no direct military action during the Civil War.  Legend, and stories abound that this fort was actually constructed during the Second Seminole War (1835-42) and that it was rebuilt for use in the Civil War.  No archaeological surveys or excavations have been conducted at this site to confirm the rumors and the origin and use of the fort.  The  property containing Old Fort Part was donated to the city by members of the Perkins family in 1943.

The Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation has created a tour guide for the Myers Park Historic District.  It includes a map of the district, and descriptions of  interesting homes with significant architectural designs are described.  The guide is designed to be a walking tour guide, and the neighborhood  is easy to negotiate.  Hopefully, you'll choose a delightful Florida day to do your exploration of Myers Park. 



Smokey Hollow was an African-American community that once occupied an area below the Capitol.  The area is now part of the under-construction Cascades Park.  It was roughly bordered by E. Lafayette Street, the CSX railroad tracks, Myers Park, and Myers Park Lane. From after the Civil War until the mid-1960's blacks lived in homes, shopped in stores and worshipped in churches that filled the several-blocks square area.  They were displaced during the 1960's by urban renewal and the building of the Florida Department of Transportation.  The community garnered its name for the haze of home chimney smoke that lay over the low-lying area. There is only one remaining piece of Smokey Hollow.  It is a small neighborhood of homes on Marvin Street, east of the railroad tracks behind the DOT buildinng.  The district contains outstanding examples of Frame Vernacular, shotgun, and double-shotgun house forms. This area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

A commeration of the community is included with the new Cascades Park brought about by a committee of former Smokey Hollow residents, historians and officals.  The replica of Smokey Hollow will be set on the northernmost part of Cascades Park, by the Apalachee Parkway overpass.  There will be four "ghost" houses, representing the shotgun and cottage houses that once filled the neighborhood.  The open-frame structures will be accented with gardens and fruit trees, just like those that once were within the neighborhood.  There will be text panels, and a concrete stream and fountain to represent the drainage ditch that was a prominent feature of Smokey Hollow, and was part of the historic St. Augustine Branch now being enclosed on Franklin Blvd.

There will also be historic markers throughout the area of Smokey Hollow in Cascades Park.  These markers will list the stores and churches, along with the families that once lived in those places.  Most of the homes within the Hollow were sub-standard shacks, typical of what many black people in the South were relegated to during segregation.  Most of the houses and businesses were owned by white people who did very little to improve the neighborhood.   There were single-family homes, also, most maintained by the family owning them.  The display in Cascades Park will give visitors an over-view of how life was lived in this small community.  Watch for the opening of the park sometime summer of 2013.


Our lovely chain of parks is a series of seven small parks located in historic downtown Tallahassee.Downtown Tallahassee was laid out with vision by Governor Wm. Duval.  He planned this one-quarter square mile city as a grid of streets interspersed with public squares.  The central square was the site of the Capitol and four other squares provided open green space.  A 200-foot dirt clearing surrounded the city to protect it from Native American attack.  This dirt clearing on the north side of the city is today what we refer to as the Chain of Parks.  This clearing was initiated in the 1820s.  Some of Tallahassee's oldest homes, dating back to territorial times, were built along the Easter parks.  Churches and government building clustered along the western parks.

In the late 1800s the community began to landscape the dirt clearing turning it into a series of parks.  At the turn of the century the name was changed from McCarty street to Park Avenue with the hope of providing a more impressive return address for residents' wedding and party invitations.  Park Avenue was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Some of the building and areas to be viewed on Park Avenue include the Old City Cemetery (1829) where governors, slaves, yellow fever epidemic victims, and both Union and Confederate casualties.  St. John's Episcopal Cemetery (1840) was developed for members of its congregation.  Governor Wm. Bloxham and David Walker are buried here, as are Prince and Princess Murat. First Presbyterian Church (built 1835-38).  Tradition has it that, at times during the Seminole Wars of the 1830s-40s, early settlers barricaded themselves in the church for protection.  Others say that during the Civil War, the congregation offered the steeple bell to the Confederacy to make cannon balls.  Their offer was declined.

McCarty Park was established during the 1890s.  It includes a special memorial dedicated to Red Barber, a beloved Tallahassee resident best known as broadcaster for the Brooklyn dodgers and NPR commentator.  Park Avenue's first park, Ponce de Leon Park, was established in the 1880s by the owners of The Leon, a Victorian hotel located where the US Courthouse now stands. East of Monroe Street is Bloxham Park, named for Tallahasseean Wm Bloxham who served two terms as Florida governor in the late 19th century. Lewis Park (1885) was planned and paid for by Wm. Cheever Lewis, son of B.C. Lewis.  It set the standard for improvements to other public spaces along the avenue. 

The Lewis House (1845-50) was built by B.C.Lewis, a pharmacist and founder of Lewis State Bank, one of the longest operating financial institutions in the state.   The Perkins House (1903-04) displays a strong Colonial Revival influence.   St. John's Episcopal Church (1880) after a fire destroyed the first structure.  It contains a 12-bell carillon, one of the few still rung by hand.  There is a self guided walking tour of the church and grounds available at the church parish office. The Meginnis-Munroe House (1854) served as a hospital for wounded soldiers after the Civil War Battle of Olustee near Lake City.  In 1903 it was rolled on logs from its original lot to the north so that the Munroe house could be built. Today it houses the LeMoyne Arts galleries and administrative offices, and extensive Sculpture Garden at the rear of the building.  The John G. Riley House (1895) today is home to the Riley Museum, honoring the man born in slave quarters who elevated himself as a teacher and a principal.  He built his home in what would become one of Tallahassee's black middle class neighborhoods. The Murphy House (1838) is one of the oldest buildings on Park Ave.  It was constructed by George Proctor, a free black builder.  One of the owners was a ship's captain who would cart home some of the ballast from his ships when they docked near Apalachicola.  The ballast is visible as the stone wall surrounding the front of the house.  The Knott House (1843) and remodeled in 1928.  It is believed that George Parker also constructed this home. It was temporarily used as headquarters of the Union Army during the Civil War. Union General Edward McCook read the Emancipation Proclamation from its front steps on May 20, 1865, freeing the slaves of North Florida.  Each year a reenactment of the reading is held at the Knott House museum. Wm Knott acquired the house in 1928.  He was state treasurer, comptroller and auditor.  Today it is part of the Florida Museum of History, under the auspices of the Department of State.

Many celebrations are held in the Chain of Parks, including the nationally recognized Chain of Parks Art Festival held each April, and the kick off for the Winter Festival with its parade, Jingle Bell run, kids activities and more.  Other months the Downtown Market Place occurs on Saturdays.  Just One More Market in the Park is another event.  Visit Tallahassee is a branch of our county tourism office and they have a great walking guide to historic downtown Tallahassee that is chock full of information to help you find and enjoy some of the historic places in our town.


At the crossroads of Moccasin Gap Road and State Road 59 is the village of Miccosukee.  The town was platted in 1908, but its heritage goes back much farther.  Near the shores of Lake Miccosukee was the largest of the Seminole Indian towns with an estimated population of 1,000 in the early 1800s.  Today this town is a good place to stop before you reach the beautiful Lake Miccosukee.  It is not far from the newly installed domed planetarium installed by the Tallahassee Astronomy Association.



This section of Tallahassee was referred to as "The Gold Dust Street".  The homes were buiilt in the 19th century to early 20th century and it was an old, established residental neighborhood.  There are about 39 buildings that have historical features.  Today most of the buildings are offices.



This section is situated along Chaires Cross Road, the Road to the Lake, and Hancock Street.  The Chaires family were among the Florida Territorial Periods settlers.  They farmed the area and created the county's first surveyed plat.  There are fifteen places of interest, including residential, religious, educational, and out buildings.  They date from the 1850s through the 1940s.  Private property.



Sunny Hill Road, which is partially paved and connects Hwy. 319 to Old Centerville road.

Old Centerville Road, partially paved

Meridian Road, paved

Centerville Road/Moccasin Gap Road, paved

Miccosukee Road, paved

St. Augustine Road, paved

Old Bainbridge Road, paved


FLORIDA'S HISTORY THROUGH ITS PLACES;   This is an excellent guide and synopsis of our Historic Districts and Places created and researched by the HISTORICAL RESOURCES, Dep't. of State, located in Gray Bldg., fourth floor.  www.flheritage.com   Their research covers not only the above listed sites and districts, but includes more than most of us realize qualify for such listing. They give a brief overview of the area/property, and have covered all areas of Leon County.