Uncategorized Cistern, Florida Division of Historical Resources, LEED Gold Certification, LeRoy Collins, Richard Keith Call, Tallahassee, Tallahassee History, The Grove, United States Green building Council, Winn Dixie No Comments
Yesterday I was asked by an archaeologist with the Division of Historical Resources to assist in the excavation of a cistern at The Grove. I had heard a little bit about this place, but didn’t know the full history. So being me, after
saying yes to assisting with the excavation, I went home and immediately began my Google research of The Grove. As an archaeologist, I know it is always easier to conduct an excavation if you are familiar with the site! As I researched it, I became fascinated with the history of The Grove. It never ceases to amaze me at the history we have here in Tallahassee. If only all these old historic structures could talk!
The history of The Grove begins with Richard Keith Call. Call was born in Virginia in 1792, and later in life joined with General Andrew Jackson on the march to Pensacola, Florida as an officer on Jackson’s personal staff. He then assisted Jackson with establishing his military headquarters at his home, The Hermitage, in Tennessee. Eventually Call established a law practice in Pensacola and in 1822 he was appointed to Florida’s first Legislative Council and then in 1823 he was appointed Brigadier General of the Militia by President Monroe. He was eventually elected as a delegate for the Territory of Florida to the United States Congress.
In 1824 Call married Mary Letitia Kirkman in Nashville. Andrew Jackson actually gave away the bride! The newly married couple briefly lived in Washinton, D.C., and after Richard Keith Call retired from Congress he accepted the position of Receiver of Public Monies for Florida. In 1825 he moved to Florida, where he purchased 640 acres at $1.25 an acre in the Tallahassee area. Here he began construction of The Grove, with inspiration from The Hermitage in Tennessee. He served as his own architect and construction manager for this undertaking. The exact date when construction was completed is not known, but it appears that the family moved into their new residence in the early 1830s. Mary died shortly afterwards in 1836 and is buried in the family cemetery located on the property. Less than a month after her passing, Call was appointed to a three-year term as Territorial Governor by President Andrew Jackson. He quickly became a political, business and military leader and in 1841 President Harrison appointed him to a second term as Territorial Governor. The Grove became the center for public and political gatherings in Tallahassee. In 1845 Call retired from public service after an unsuccessful attempt to run for Governor of the State of Florida.
In 1851 he deeded The Grove to his daughter, Ellen, and he moved to another plantation nearby. In 1882, he returned to The Grove where he passed away. For years after that The Grove remained in the family, then in 1942 the house was put on the open market. However, Call’s great-granddaughter, Mary Call, and her husband LeRoy Collins were able to purchase the property. In 1942 the couple moved in, fulfilling a life-long dream of Mary’s. Unfortunately, by this point the house was in a state of disrepair. The Collin’s were able to restore the property and acquired additional family property that, though out the years, had been sold off. They were also able to purchase the family cemetery where Richard Keith Call and other family members had been buried.
Eventually, Mary’s husband and aspiring politician, LeRoy Collins was elected as Governor in 1956. As governor he advocated for education, tourism, environmental conservation and more! Civil rights and segregation were major issues during his time as Governor, and he was one of the first southern governors who opposed segregation.
In 2009 the Division of Historical Resources began the process of restoring The Grove. The goal of this restoration is to have the historic property used as a museum. The Call and Collins families both had a tradition of public service, leadership, innovation, community and family. The goal of this project is to turn The Grove into a museum with themes and activities that capture the essence of the family’s history and life at The Grove in a compelling and engaging way for the public. In keeping with the family tradition of resourcefulness and innovation, DHR and the renovation team is attempting to restore The Grove in such a way that they are able to achieve LEED Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council.
To further support historic sites and their preservation in Florida the Division of Historical Resources entered into a partnership with Winn-Dixie incorporated. As part of this partnership, Winn-Dixie recently released their Winn-Dixie Southern Style Sweet Tea featuring The Grove on the product label! If you would like to learn more about The Grove, the renovation or the partnership with Winn-Dixie incorporated,you can visit http://www.flheritage.com/grove/index.cfm