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Welcome to the restored 1902 House Chamber. The House of Representatives makes up one half of the Legislative branch. This room highlights what the House of Representatives does and profiles some notable House members and legislation. This room was part of the 1902 additions to the building, but the first House of Representatives met here in 1903. The membership was different than today’s diverse legislature. In 1903, they were all white males and included two future governors and a 24 year-old newspaper editor. Some of the legislation taken up in the 1903 House concerned draining the everglades, prohibiting the shooting of alligators from steamboats (some passengers were accidently being shot, as well as gators), and the infamous Flagler divorce bill that changed Florida law just to provide railroad magnate Henry Flagler with a divorce.
Architecturally, the room is similar to the Senate with its high ceiling, pastel colors and classical details. Standing in the entryway, to your left are some original furnishings that date from 1903, including a representative’s desk, the page boy’s bench and a hall tree. In front of you, the wooden rail separates the public gallery from the actual “House Chamber” with its 68 reproduction desks, original clerk’s desk and Speaker’s bench. Behind the Speaker’s bench is a copy of the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that was painted in 1936.
“Issues in the House” is our current interactive voting program where you can experience debating and voting on a legislative issue that was once considered by the Florida House of Representatives. Participants sit at the desks in the old House Chambers and then the group chooses an issue, listens to arguments from both sides, makes their own arguments and then casts their vote. The group vote is then compared to the actual historic vote. Groups can choose one of three historic issues, the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, the Equal Rights Amendment or Equal Opportunity Scholarships, also known as school vouchers. Participate in our interactive program and as a Representative, you may cast the deciding vote!