Scenic USA - Florida

Old Capitol Building

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Florida Historic Capitol - Tallahassee, Florida

Photos by Chris Henn

     Traveling across north Florida, from St. Augustine to Pensacola, is a pretty long drive even though it mostly consists of interstate highway. It's a 400 mile trip and takes about five and a half hours. Just imagine what it was like back in the early 1800s when representatives of the Florida Territory alternated between the two political regions. Settling for a halfway point, Tallahassee was chosen for a permanent site in 1824. The first meetings were held in log cabins until a new brick capitol building was built. Just in a time for Florida statehood, the new capitol was completed in 1845.
     Congress appropriated 20,000 dollars for the new building in 1839 which followed a neo-Classical style. Surviving the Civil War era unscathed, the building was expanded in 1902 to support a Capitol Complex framed by the Old Capitol Building growing state. Two wings were added to accommodate the entire state government, only to be outgrown just 10 years later. Its classical style dome was added during this huge expansion, adding a most distinguishing feature. The building served as Florida's State Capitol until 1978, and remains the core of the Historic Capitol Museum.
     As Florida's population continued to grow, the need for a larger capitol building was realized. A 22 story Capitol Complex was completed in 1977 and the old capitol building was slated for demolition. Fortunately the white stucco building was saved and restored to its 1902 appearance. This extensive effort made Florida’s historic capitol one of the most thoroughly documented restoration projects in the nation. The old capitol building opened as a museum in 1982, displaying state historical exhibits as well as its classic interior. Public tours are possible nearly every day of the year, check museum website for various hours.

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