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Welcome to the restored 1902 Senate Chamber. The Florida Legislature is not a full-time legislature. The Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, maintains its identity as the citizen branch of state government. Almost all the Senators are occupied in a business or profession when they are not carrying out their legislative duties. From the earliest days of our state history, the Senate has proven to be a battleground for some of the sharpest minds, a testing place for the most critical issues and a showcase for some of Florida’s most powerful personalities. This room highlights how the Senate functions and profiles some of the most notable Senate members and significant legislation.
In one of the exhibit cases you can view the actual handkerchiefs that were once used in the closing ceremonies for the Florida House and Senate. By tradition, the House and Senate often adjourned their legislative sessions at the same time. After 1936 in the Historic Capitol, the presiding officers could not see each other, so the Sergeants at Arms for each body stood in the central rotunda and dropped handkerchiefs simultaneously. The Speaker and Senate President waited for this cue and then each banged the gavel at the same time. This tradition continues today in the new Capitol.
The Senate started meeting in this chamber in 1903 and moved in 1923. Currently, it is restored back to its 1903 appearance with thirty-two reproduction desks, a wooden rail, clerk’s desk and a raised bench for the Senate President. In 1903 the original desks and chairs cost a total of twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents. In the 1990s, these reproduction desks and chairs cost $750.00 apiece. On the front of each desk is a plaque with the name of the group or individual that donated funds for the desk. One group was the Seminole Indians of Florida.
The lovely Senate Chamber with its soft red, white and blue colors, classical décor, 22 foot ceilings and beautiful reproduction oak furnishings is available for meetings and receptions. For more information, please visit our website or call us at (850) 487-1902.