Touring Florida State Capitol

by Melissa Fordyce SPECIAL TO HERNANDO SUN

Want to learn about our state government and history? Instead of reading about it in a book, take a day to explore the Florida State capitol in Tallahassee.
On a recent vacation, we had the opportunity to spend a few hours in the state’s capital and it allowed my kids to experience a little of our state history as well as learn how our state came about.

The current capitol building officially opened March 31, 1978 and now houses all branches of government other than the Supreme Court. From the 22n floor of the building is a 360 degree breathtaking view of the city, including Florida State University. The tour recommends starting on the 22nd floor. In addition to the city views, art from artists all across the state is displayed on this floor. Then work your way down to the 5th floor and see where the Florida Senate and House of Representatives meet. Here, you will also read a bit on how we became the state we are today. The tour ends on the 1st floor where visitors can see the governor’s office, sign the guest book and view portraits of past governors.

After we completed our tour of the Capitol building, we went out the back steps and into history. Here we toured the Historic Old Capitol building in its 1902 version. A friendly volunteer at the front desk provided us with tons of historical facts on the building, including information on the stained glass dome in the Rotunda. At some point over the years the stained glass was removed. When the new capitol building was built, and the old one was being turned into a museum, they were determined to restore it back to the 1902 version. During the restoration, glass fragments of the original dome were found and the pattern was able to be reconstructed. Parts of the building had to be removed because they were only a couple of feet from the new building posing fire hazards.

Originally, the state intended to remove the original building all together, but it was saved. Here you can see the Senate, Supreme Court, House of Representatives, and Governor’s office as they were in 1902.

If you walk out the front steps of the Capitol building, directly across the street you can see where the Florida Supreme Court meets, in the beautiful columned building. A short car ride away you can visit Doak Campbell stadium which houses the Florida State Seminoles, from the visitor’s center you can take a look inside. On the day we visited, the stadium was under construction for the upcoming football season, therefore we were only able to visit the exterior.

All tours are completely free and make a great way to spend a day. The governor’s mansion is nearby and a tour of that can be completed as well, but you must register for that ahead of time.

For more information, visit: www.myfloridacapitol.com / www.flhistoriccapitol.gov / www.gloridagovernorsmansion.com

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