Tallahassee is a historic city that serves as the capital of Florida. It has a rich history that spans thousands of years when it was first inhabited by paleo-indians before being visited by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and then being settled by the Spanish in the 17th century.
The following is a list of historic sites in Tallahassee:
Lake Jackson Mounds
Address: 3600 Indian Mound Rd, Tallahassee, FL
The Lake Jackson Mounds site is an archeological site that served as the capital of the Fort Walton Culture from 1050 to 1500. The complex features six of the original seven earthwork temple mounds and one burial mound, with two mounds available to the public for viewing.
The site was excavated in the 1970s and was examined with ground penetrating radar in 2014.
The mounds have been managed as a Florida State Park since 1966 and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1971.
De Soto Winter Encampment Site
Address: 1001 Desoto Park Dr, Tallahassee, FL
The Hernando de Soto Winter Encampment Site is an archeological site that served as the winter camp for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto from October 1539 to March 1540 during his expedition through the southeastern United States.
After spending the winter at the site, De Soto and his crew of 600 soldiers continued on with the expedition by heading north into what is now modern day Georgia. De Soto died of a fever during the expedition two years later while exploring Louisiana.
The site is now a part of the De Soto Site Historic State Park.
Mission San Luis
Address: 2100 West Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, FL
Mission San Luis is a Spanish Franciscan mission built in 1656. The mission served as the capital of the missions in Florida from 1656 to 1704.
Around 1,500 residents lived at the site, including the Spanish deputy governor, a powerful Apalachee chief and his tribe from the nearby village of Anhaica.
The original San Luis Mission was built in west Tallahassee in 1633 but was relocated to the current site in 1656 in order to serve as the capital of the western missions in Florida. When the new mission was built, the Spanish asked the villagers of Anhaica to relocate to the new mission and they agreed.
In 1702, Queen Anne’s War broke out between the British and the Spanish and British troops began attacking Spanish missions in Florida.
In July of 1704, fearing a British attack, the Spanish and Apalachee evacuated Mission San Luis and burned the buildings to the ground themselves. British troops arrived a few days later and found the mission completely destroyed.
The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Natural Bridge Battlefield
Address: 7502 Natural Bridge Rd, Tallahassee, FL
The Natural Bridge Battlefield is the site of a Civil War battle that took place on March 6, 1865. During the battle, a small group of Confederate soldiers prevented a detachment of United States Colored Troops from crossing the bridge on the St. Marks River.
Federal forces were in the area attempting to advance up the St. Marks River but its navy had trouble getting its ships up the river. Federal soldiers attempted to cross a man-made bridge nearby but it had been destroyed. When they attempted to cross the Natural Bridge on March 6, a small band of Confederate forces were guarding it and prevented them from taking it during three separate charges.
The bridge is now a part of the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site, as well as a Florida State Park and is home to a monument dedicated to the battle.
Old Capitol Building
Address: 400 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL
The Old Capitol Building is a brick Greek Revival-style building, constructed in 1845, that served as the home of the Florida state government.
In 1891, the building was repainted, a small cupola was added and plumbing was installed.
In 1902, major alterations were made to the building when two wings were added to expand it.
In 1973, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1977, a new capitol building was constructed behind the old building with the plan to demolish the old building once construction was completed. The new building was a modern 22-story executive office building complete with House and Senate chambers and offices.
In 1978, the old capitol building was slated for demolition but was saved by a citizen’s action group who felt the building was too historic too demolish. The building was instead restored to its 1902 appearance and it now serves as the Florida Historic Capital Museum.
Old City Cemetery
Address: 400 W Park Ave, Tallahassee, FL
Established in 1829, the Old City Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Tallahassee. The location had already been used as a burial ground prior to it becoming an official cemetery. In 1840, the cemetery was acquired by the city.
Among the people buried here are some of the African-American Union soldiers killed at the Battle of Natural Bridge in 1865.
Old Fort Park
Address: 909 Maple Dr, Tallahassee, FL
Old Fort Park is the site of a Civil War-era fort called Fort Houstoun that was named after the plantation where it was located, E.A Houstoun’s plantation.
The fort was built in the fall of 1864 by a Corps of Engineers, made up of 1,000 African-American slaves from various North Florida plantations. It was constructed on the side of a hilltop and measured about 160 feet in size.
The purpose of the fort was to protect Tallahassee, which was the capital of Florida, from being taken by Federal forces during the Civil War.
The fort never saw any action and was abandoned shortly after in 1865.
Tallahassee – St Marks Railroad Trail
Address: 4778 Woodville Hwy, Tallahassee, FL
The Tallahassee – St. Marks Railroad Trail is a rail trail on the site of the Tallahassee – St. Marks Railroad. The railroad line was built in 1837 by the Tallahassee Railroad Company and was a 22-mile line from the state capitol of Tallahassee to St. Mark.
The Tallahassee Railroad Company formed in 1834 for the specific purpose of building the railroad line to Tallahassee in order to ship goods through Florida more quickly and efficiently.
The rails were originally made of wood but were replaced with steel rails in 1856. In 1983, the railroad stopped operating and in 1984 the Florida Department of Transportation purchased 16 miles of the railroad line to build the trail trail.
“History of the Tallahassee – St Marks Railroad.” Florida State Parks, floridastateparks.org/learn/history-tallahassee-st-marks-railroad
“Old Fort Park Marker (Obverse) Tallahassee, FL.” Digital Commons, University of North Florida, digitalcommons.unf.edu/historical_architecture_main/7305/
“Old Fort Park & Fort Houstoun – Tallahassee Florida.” Explore Southern History, exploresouthernhistory.com/oldfortpark.html
Florida’s Historic Cemeteries: A Preservation Handbook. Florida Department of State, 2004, files.floridados.gov/media/31938/floridahistoriccemeteries.pdf
“The Tallahassee Old City Cemetery.” FPAN North Central Blog, flpublicarchaeology.org/blog/ncrc/2012/12/13/the-tallahassee-old-city-cemetery/
“The Capitol.” Florida Department of State, dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-history/the-capitol/
“Mission San Luis.” Florida Department of State, dos.myflorida.com/historical/explore/mission-san-luis/
“Hernando de Soto 1539 – 1540 Winter Encampment at Anhaica Apalachee.” Florida Department of State, dos.myflorida.com/historical/archaeology/projects/hernando-de-soto-1539-1540-winter-encampment-at-anhaica-apalachee/
“Lake Jackson Mounds.” Florida Department of State, dos.myflorida.com/historical/archaeology/projects/lake-jackson-mounds/
“Lake Jackson Mounds Archeological State Park.” Florida State Parks, floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/lake-jackson-mounds-archaeological-state-park