TALLAHASSEE, Fla. >> Calling it a reflection of the “larger American experience,” a home that has been witness to slavery, the Civil War and the civil rights era has been opened to the public in Tallahassee.
State officials Saturday swung open the doors to The Grove, a state-owned mansion that was once the residence of Gov. LeRoy Collins. Secretary of State Ken Detzner was joined at a ribbon-cutting by members of the extended Collins family.
The grand opening, which came after extensive renovations that cost taxpayers nearly $6 million, came one day and 108 years after Collins was born. State officials said more than 2,500 people visited the museum and the grounds on opening day.
Johnathan Grandage, executive director of the Grove Museum, called the mansion a “window into our historic and collective heritage.” Detzner said the renovation would ensure that “The Grove will remain one of Florida’s most treasured historic sites.”
Built by one of Florida’s early territorial governors using slave labor, the Grove would later serve as home to Collins as he tried to shepherd the state through the civil rights era. The museum includes exhibits and artifacts that stretch over its lengthy history, including rarely heard passages from a diary kept by Ellen Call Long during the Civil War.
Long was the daughter of Richard Keith Call, an officer on Gen. Andrew Jackson’s personal staff, who modeled the home after Jackson’s Hermitage in Tennessee and is believed to have finished building it by 1831. The mansion features a wide main hallway found in many Southern homes, pinewood floors and a winding cypress staircase.