Our two week stay in Tallahassee has us based in a small area known as Spencerville. The area acquired its name because of the various Spencers (first or last name) who live in and own many of the 22 homes in the area. Mr. Spencer, our landlord, enlightened us to a bit of its history. The early 1900s brought the Naval Store or turpentine industry from the Carolinas to North Florida. The turpentine industry was originally called Naval Store because it was used to coat ropes and plug holes in wooden Navy ships. The tall Longleaf Pine tree was the source of the sap which distills into turpentine. Mr. Spencer’s grandfather made his fortune creating a turpentine still. One of the oldest and tallest long leaf pine trees left in Leon County Florida is in Spencerville. Mr Spencer’s father used his father’s fortune to buy real estate. He was able to move homes built in the 1930s that were on the land allocated for the interstate I-10 to his new neighborhood, Spencerville.
Our Mr. Spencer has turned most of the homes into long-term or Airbnb rentals. The one drawback of this adorable area, it backs train tracks. Adjusting to the erratic schedule of the CSX train that announces itself with several sharp whistles has been a challenge.
We have found some interesting things to keep us busy in this state capital. Who knew Frank Lloyd Wright built the private residence named Spring House here?Unfortunately, it is in disrepair and needs much attention. We were unable to see the inside, but the outside is pretty cool.
Keeping with the theme of real estate in Tallahassee, we also toured the Riley House Museum. This home was built in the 1860s and is beautiful as a representation of a building of the time. What makes it incredible is that it is a home built by John Gilmore Riley, a freed slave who bought the land. The Smokey Hollow neighborhood was where many freed slaves bought land and built homes.
Several days, the bike trail that was once a rail line, the Historic Saint Mark Trail has been a source of exercise. We have biked all 16 miles in both directions. It is not super scenic, but it is clean and easy riding with seafood restaurants at the halfway point and entertaining church signs along the route. My favorite so far: “If you think your life stinks, we have a pew for you”.
The Florida Caverns State Park is in Marianna, Florida. It is less than an hour from Tallahassee and is in the Central time zone. This means we arrived at our destination before we left. We took a guided tour of the caverns. The Civilian Conservation Corp cleared and prepared the cavern for commercial use in the 1930s. There are several rooms to walk through each with distinct features and all beautiful.
Notice the heart formation in the rock! We also saw the tiniest bats ever, the eastern pipistrelle. They eat a third of their weight in insects before sleeping it off.
On our way back to the Eastern time zone we stopped at a local restaurant named the Gazebo Cafe. The lunch was nothing too exciting but they had hummingbird cake on the menu for dessert. I was very intrigued. I questioned the waitress; she answered that they were all out. I looked it up; it is a banana coconut spice cake. Some other time, some other place.
The indigenous people of the area were the Apalachee. In the late 1500s, the Spanish created several settlements in Florida. Eventually, the Apalachee, the Spanish and Franscian Monks lived together in the San Luis Mission. Today, there is a living history museum with actors and a reconstructed village in the footprint of the original Mission. It gives incredible perspective to the history of Florida and the forming of the United States of America.