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Standing on the east porch of the Historic Capitol you are looking straight down Apalachee Parkway which is one of the oldest roads in the United States. It dates all the way back to the mid-1600s in Florida when the “Spanish Trail” led from this area to St. Augustine. After the United States acquired Florida in 1821, the two Spanish Colonies of East Florida and West Florida were combined into the Territory of Florida and in 1824, a site for the new Territorial Capitol was chosen right on this spot.
The city of Tallahassee was planned around “Capitol Square.” Chosen as the location for the new Capitol of Florida, it has been the center of political activities in Florida for over 180 years. The surrounding town of Tallahassee spread out from Capitol Square and adjacent lots were sold to raise money for the Capitol building. Capitol Square was the hub of early Tallahassee, and was quickly bordered by houses, hotels, a blacksmith shop, a general store and a drug store. Capitol Square has seen inaugurations, funerals, celebrations, demonstrations and many other public events. Most of Florida’s Governors from 1845 to the l950s were inaugurated on this east side of the Historic Capitol. In 1902, the Governors’ wife, May Mann Jennings, designed the landscape for the grounds around the newly renovated 1902 Capitol. Today the stone steps and the metal state seal above the portico date from that 1902 Capitol. There are some other interesting things to note on the east exterior grounds.
The Parkhill Monument was erected in 1861, and is dedicated from the citizens of Leon County in the memory of Captain John Parkhill, who died fighting in the 3rd Seminole War in 1857. The Confederate Monument was dedicated in 1882 to Confederate Soldiers from Leon County and lists the Civil War battles where they fought. On the northeast corner of this building are four original cornerstones from the 1902, 1923, 1936 and 1977 additions to the Capitol Building. We are one of the few buildings in the country with four cornerstones.