Florida's Capitol Buildings
The dome of the Old Capitol
rises in front of the new. The
2000 Election focused the
eyes of the world here.
A Confederate Headquarters
The Old Capitol served as the
military headquarters of
Florida during the Civil War.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Florida's Old Capitol Building
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Florida's Old Capitol Building
Old Capitol Building - Tallahassee, Florida
Florida's Old Capitol
Saved from destruction by a massive uprising of the
people of Florida, the state's historic Old Capitol is
now a museum complex.
A Capitol Saved by the Public
Surrounded by the rising skyline of Florida's
capital city but in no way dominated by it, the
state's historic Old Capitol Building is one of
the most beautiful landmarks in the South.

It is a little known fact that
Tallahassee was a
city created to serve as capital. When the
United States took possession of Florida in
1821, the territory's two principal cities -
Pensacola and St. Augustine - were
separated by hundreds of miles wilderness.

This situation was unacceptable to the early
residents so a decision was reached to
establish a new capital city half-way between
the two old Spanish capitals. Dr. Henry
Simmons set out from St. Augustine and
John Lee Williams left Pensacola. They met
in the middle and selected the present site of
Tallahassee for the state's new seat of

Unfortunately, it was already a seat of
government for Neamathla and his followers
from the Creek and Seminole nations. The
name Tallahassee, in fact, was taken from
one of the Native American villages already
located in the area. The word means "Old
Fields" in the Hitchiti variant of the Creek

Despite his fierce resistance during the First
Seminole War of 1817-1818, Neamathla
agreed to let the whites have today's capitol
site and a log cabin was built here to serve
as the first capitol building in 1824.

Two years later construction was started on a
two-story masonry building that was used but
never completed.

On March 3, 1839, however, the U.S.
Congress appropriated $20,000 to be used
in building a permanent structure to house
Florida's territorial government. Work began
on the main part of the current structure that
same year and it was completed in 1845,
just before Florida was admitted to the Union
as a state.

It was here on January 10, 1861, that Florida
declared its secession from the Union. The
building served as both a civil and military
headquarters during the Civil War and was
the military command post for the area at the
time of the
Battle of Natural Bridge on March
6, 1865. The last significant Confederate
victory of the Civil War, the battle preserved
Tallahassee's status as the only Southern
capital east of the Mississippi not conquered
by Union troops.
The Old Capitol became a center for intense
political debate during the Reconstruction
era when Democrats and Republicans
battled for control of the state.

Other controversies and debates followed,
including one in the 1970s that threatened
the historic building itself. The growth of the
state and its government had prompted the
construction of a new 22-story capitol to the
rear of the old structure.

Many of the state's leaders considered the
Old Capitol an eyesore blocking the view of
the modern structure and pushed for its
demolition. The people of the state rose up,
however, in a massive preservation effort and
Florida's historic Old Capitol was saved.

Today it houses exhibits on the government
and political history of Florida, including
displays of artifacts and photographs from
the huge year 2000 election controversy in
Florida. The building is open daily at no
charge. Hours are 9-4:30, Monday through
Friday; 10-4:30 Saturdays and Noon-4:30
Parkhill Monument
This monument on the Old
Capitol grounds honors a
soldier of the Second
Seminole War.
The Unconquered Capitol
Florida's Old Capitol building
was a Southern military
headquarters at the time of
the Battle of Natural Bridge
and was the only capitol east
of the Mississippi not
captured by Union troops.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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