The Florida Capitol in Tallahassee
We have spent a handful of afternoons touring the Florida Capitol building. It is a busy place and a great visit if you are looking for a free thing to do with kids in the air conditioning during the heat or a place to take cover during an afternoon or rain.
There are many things to read on the Plaza Level with the Hall of Fames. The view of the city from the top is the best! There are guided and self-guided tours available. Here is their current visitor’s brochure.
The Capitol is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on weekends and state holidays. For security reasons, plan to go through a search and present purses, bags, and any packages for separate inspection. All electronics must be removed from their cases and inspected.
The History of the Florida Capitol
Tallahassee was established as the capital of Florida in 1824. The Capitol Complex area contains the Capitol, the Historic Capitol Museum, and the Knott Building. The Capitol is a 22-story building and the tallest structure in many miles. It houses the executive and legislative branches of Florida’s government.
In 1970, construction started on the new Capitol. The site work and debates on the details took many years. The lower three levels were completed first, and the steel frame was completed in 1975. From there, it took three years and ten months for the Capitol to be declared complete in August 1977.
The Florida Senate
The Florida Senate has 40 members. The members sit in the chamber based on their district number. The even-numbered districts are separated from the odd-numbered districts. The current chamber, located on the fourth floor, is the fifth one that has been in use since 1839. There is a gallery for observation with seats available on a first come first serve basis.
The Florida House of Representatives
The Florida House of Representatives has 120 members. The Speaker of the House decides the seating arrangement here. In 1999, the House Chamber was renovated. The portraits of the former speakers can be seen in the hallway leading to the House of Representatives. Seating in the galleries is generally first come first serve. Though seats can be reserved.
What NOT to Miss When Touring Florida’s Capitol
The Capitol Gallery on the 22nd Floor
The top floor of Florida’s Capitol building contains a gallery for Florida artists. The Capitol Gallery has hosted exhibitions by many notable Florida artists, including Romero Britto, Xavier Cortada, and Richard Bickel. The Division of Arts and Cultures staff select artists. Shows are scheduled up to three years in advance. Preference is given to Florida themes.
The View of Tallahassee From the Observation Deck Top of the City
This is the most incredible view in north Florida. Of course, it helps that Florida’s Capitol is the tallest building in many miles! The view shows Tallahassee is green and covered with trees!
The First Floor Hall of Fames on the Plaza Level
Surrounding the Rotunda, you will find all sizes of plaques hung on the wall representing many diverse groups. These groups include:
- The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Each person inducted has a plaque with her photo and biography.
- The Fallen Firefighters Wall of Honor lists firefighters killed in the line of duty.
- The Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame recognizes military veterans who contributed significantly to the State of Florida during or after their military service.
- The Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame is dedicated to those who contributed to the struggle for equality and justice for all.
- Congressional Medal of Honor Plaques display biographies of the recipients.
- The Florida Artists Hall of Fame displays plaques with images of the inductees and their biographies.
The Meditation Room
The Florida Capitol is one of few statehouses with a chapel. When the room was completed in 1980, the chapel was official dedicated as a meditation room. What we thought was cool was that the material in the room was from Florida. The rest of the building was Italian marble.
The Weissenborn Plaque
The plaque is a story about the politics in Florida that never ceases to entertain, horrify, and amuse. You can find it affixed to the north center wall of the Plaza Level.
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