In its heyday, Goodwood Plantation was a corn and cotton plantation and its mansion (shown above) was the scene of elegant soirees. Today's visitors often enjoy a picnic on the grounds.*
Discover the Feminine Side of
Tallahassee’s Historic Attractions
By Roberta Sandler
Scented by magnolias, dogwoods and camellias, charming Tallahassee and its surrounding areas are dotted with scenic canopy roads lined with oak groves and bucolic fields.
At right, children with a butterfly net walk down one of the Tallahassee area's canopy roads.*
As the Sunshine State's capital city, this northwest Florida destination boasts many tourism attractions focused on government and history. Among them are the Florida State Capitol building and the Governor's Mansion.
But beyond the lush landscapes and trappings of government and power are a plethora of quieter, lesser known historical sites. With a decidedly “feminine” focus, these attractions showcase the influence of women on 19th- and early 20th-century Florida life.
House of Rhymes
Bet you’ve never visited a house that rhymes? In 1928, temperance activist and fitness enthusiast Luella Knott and her husband, State Treasurer William Knott, bought a majestic Classical Revival-style house (shown below right*) now known as Knott House Museum (850-922-2459 or www.museumoffloridahistory.com), 301 East Park Ave.
Luella wrote amusing poetry dedicated to her Victorian-era furniture and accessories. She tied the poems with ribbon onto each item. She may have been eccentric but she did have a sense of humor.
Here’s her poem dedicated to her mirror:
“Look at me and don’t be rude.
Smile your best and tip your hat;
Though of course, I know you’re thinking:
Heavens! Do I look like that?”
The Knott House was built in 1843 by a freed slave who was a master carpenter. The Emancipation Proclamation was publicly read from the home’s front steps. In 1865, after the war was over, the home was used as the Union Army’s headquarters.
Take a free guided tour so you can read Luella’s poems up close. Another draw is the early 20th century kitchen with its nostalgic appliances from 1928.
Beauty and Brains
Visitors often enjoy exploring Bellevue, a modest, Southern Carpenter-style plantation log home on the grounds of Tallahassee Museum (850-575-8684 or www.tallahasseemuseum.org), 3945 Museum Dr.
Here, you’ll learn how resourceful — and beautiful — Catherine Murat was. Napoleon’s nephew, Prince Achille Murat, was quite the Lothario.
He wooed — and later wed —Catherine by drinking from her slipper during a party in Tallahassee.
A failure as a plantation owner and lawyer, Achille died in 1847, leaving Catherine in debt. But she eventually paid her debts and turned Bellevue into a prosperous cotton plantation.
She also raised funds to help restore Mount Vernon, the home of her great-granduncle, George Washington.
If you visit, check out Catherine’s little black dress and lace gloves. How dainty she was!
Country Smoked Sausage, Anyone?
Miss Piggy may go to market, but she probably wouldn’t shop at Bradley’s Country Store (850-893-1647 or www.bradleyscountrystore.com), 10655 Centerville Rd.
That’s because this fourth-generation, family-run business is known for its country smoked sausages, which “link” it to Tallahassee’s past.
In 1910, Mary Bradley began selling her secret-recipe sausages from her kitchen window. By 1927, her meats were in such high demand that her son, Lawrence, built Bradley’s Country Store. Mary’s house, dating from 1893, still stands next door.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the store is a tribute to early farm life and rural living.
Mosey on up to the meat counter. Order Bradley’s’ signature lunch: savory sausage on a bun. Annually, the store produces about 75,000 pounds of sausage and 10,000 pounds of stone-ground grits. Yes, this is truly is a great place to “pig” out.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Bradley’s hosts an annual Fun Day. The old-fashioned event features vendors, wagon rides, syrup cooking and cane grinding.
Gardens, Guest Houses and a Greenhouse
Goodwood Museum and Gardens (850-877-4202 or www.goodwoodmuseum.org), 1600 Miccosukee Rd., was successively owned by four widows.
In the 1830s, the estate was a cotton and corn plantation. It later became a private residence.
Goodwood was often the scene of elegant soirees. The upscale furnishings reflect the wealth of its owners.
The guided house tour is sprinkled with anecdotes, like the fact that Margaret Hodges wanted to buy an old bed she admired at Goodwood.
That’s how her husband, Sen. William Hodges, ended up buying the entire estate in 1925.
Explore the grounds and gardens. You’ll encounter numerous out-buildings such as cottages, guest houses, the old kitchen, an aviary and a greenhouse.
A columned and latticed pergola adorns the reflecting pool. It adds to Goodwood’s charm and secures the mansion’s reputation as one of Tallahassee’s most beautiful antebellum homes.
Visiting Florida’s Capital City
If you visit Tallahassee, you’ll certainly encounter gorgeous scenery and important government buildings, such as the state capitol seen at right.*
For information on area lodging, dining and attractions, contact the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-628-2866 or 850-413-9200 850-606-2305. Or, visit www.visittallahasee.com.
But if you go, definitely take time to explore the lesser known historic sites mentioned above. You’ll leave with a sense of wonderment at the female tenacity, foresight and talent that left strong imprints on Tallahassee’s history.
Roberta Sandler, a Florida resident and member of the Society of American Travel Writers, writes travel articles for newspapers and regional and lifestyle magazines. She has won several media awards. Her newest book is "Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials," to be published by University Press of Florida.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you