The Preservation of Historic Resources in the Gaines Street Corridor
1000 Friends of Florida
Real Estate Research Consultants
Wallace Roberts & Todd
The Gaines Street Corridor is an overlooked but special part of Tallahassee. Many driving through the area do not recognize its rich history, nor do they yet see its unique potential. Located in the heart of the urbanized part of the city and immediately adjacent to the historic downtown, the Gaines Street corridor is prime for redevelopment and revitalization. The challenge will be to encourage and promote vital new development while at the same time respecting the history and character-defining features of the area.
Across the nation, many communities are beginning to explore the concept of “smart growth.” Smart growth, as its name implies, means taking a saner and more sensible approach to where and how a community places its new development. Smart growth includes promoting infill development in underutilized urban areas instead of continuing the pattern of sprawling suburbia into rural lands. Smart growth also means encouraging mixing residential, commercial and office uses in a compact area. This reduces residents’ reliance on the automobile, creating more livable, walkable communities.
But smart growth additionally connotes respecting those natural and historic features that make a community special–ensuring that new development harmonizes with rather than destroys an area’s unique assets. When properly located and designed, smart growth can enhance a community’s tax base, reduce the need for costly new infrastructure extending into rural areas, improve traffic flow by promoting pedestrian, biking and transit opportunities, and create a special place to live.
Portions of the Gaines Street corridor are prime for smart growth, and can help absorb some of this community’s development pressures, helping to alleviate the demand to build denser development in Tallahassee’s historic downtown core. While once a bustling area that included a mixture of residential, commercial and industrial uses, over the years these uses have diminished along Gaines Street. Now, this area is home to a number of vacant or underutilized buildings, and many parcels of vacant land. It faces problems deriving from public perception of the area, toxic contamination or “brownfields” left over from the area’s industrial heyday, and often deteriorating building stock. Its opportunities include the area’s close proximity to downtown, its relatively inexpensive land values, its vacant lands, and its heritage.
A Brief History of the Gaines Street Corridor
The area known today as the Gaines Street Corridor has a rich history dating back to the founding of Tallahassee and earlier. This section includes a brief overview of the historic development of the area. For more detailed information, please see Appendix 1: Early Development of the Gaines Street Corridor.
Early Settlement–Located at the eastern end of the Gaines Street Corridor is Cascades Park. This area once boasted a waterfall known as the Cascade, and was one of the reasons this area was selected to be the capital of Florida. Tallahassee’s first settlers reportedly camped in or close to the Gaines Street Corridor in 1824 and the original 1825 plan for the city encompassed part of the eastern end of the corridor. Remnants of the original 200 foot clearing around the city remain in today’s All Saints Neighborhood. The corridor developed from east to west, with residential uses initially predominating.
The Coming of the Railroad–With the coming of the railroad to the area in 1837, industrial uses sprang up to take advantage of proximity to that important resource. The new Tallahassee-St. Marks rail line was operated by the Tallahassee Railroad Company, and followed closely the alignment of today’s tracks. Initially, mules and horses hauled cotton and other goods along wooden tracks with iron rails to the port of St. Marks. A brief flirtation with the steam engine ended when the boiler exploded. The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad purchased the company in 1855, once again upgrading to steam engines, and opening a line to Lake City in 1860. They constructed a new depot which serves as today’s Amtrak Station.
By the 1860s, the area adjacent to the rail line was home to a myriad of industrial uses, including steam saws, grist mills, foundries, lumber yards, and a brick yard. In the 1890s, the railroad became part of the new Seaboard Air Line Railway, and other companies also established lines in this area, including the Carrabelle, Tallahassee, and Georgia Railroad, and the Georgia Pine Railroad. Some of these new lines ran north of Gaines Street. Industrial development in the area continued to flourish, as new iron works, lumber companies, and bottling companies opened in the area.
The Establishment of Neighborhoods–Despite the growing industrialization of the area, several residential neighborhoods developed and flourished in the Gaines Street Corridor during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The All Saints Neighborhood had residences as early as the 1860s, and was platted for residential use in the 1880s. By the early 1900s, this was a flourishing neighborhood with a mix of white and black residents. Due to its proximity to the depots, it always had a scattering of industrial uses; however, it was not until the 1930s and 1940s that industrial uses started dominating the western half of the neighborhood.
Platted in the 1880s, the Stearns-Mosely Neighborhood was a vibrant African American neighborhood that had been situated on the site of an 1860s brick yard. Another African American neighborhood, Lincoln Valley, was destroyed with the construction of the Civic Center. A residential area north of Gaines now identified as the FSU Transition Zone once flourished as a neighborhood, although little research has been done on this area.
Zoning for Industrial Uses–Due to the increasing industrialization of the area, in 1925 the City voted to establish “business sections” near the train depots to allow business development without the consent of area residents. As a result of this action, All Saints, the FSU Transition Zone and other residential areas began experiencing even greater industrialization. In 1946, the Taylor Plan called for the eastern portion of the Gaines Street Corridor to be used for a series of state office buildings, resulting in the demolition of numerous residences. It further recommended that much of the western part of the area be zoned industrial and commercial, further reinforcing that area’s growing character.
The challenge for today is to retain those significant features of the past, while allowing the area to become a vital and integral component of today’s downtown Tallahassee.
Past Historic Resource Surveys
Over the years, several historic resource surveys have been conducted that encompass the Gaines Street Corridor. Tallahassee’s first formal survey, in 1967-68, identified several significant resources in the area. Subsequent surveys have resulted in a number of properties in the Gaines Street Corridor being entered into the Florida Master Site File.
In preparation for the widening of Gaines Street, staff of the Florida Department of Transportation conducted some preliminary survey work in the late 1980s. FDOT then retained Archaeological Consultants, Inc. to undertake the most comprehensive survey, which resulted in the 1991 report entitled A Cultural Resource Assessment Survey of Gaines Street and Bloxham Street One-Way Pair Study Between Meridian Road on the East to Vicinity of Lake Bradford Road on the West.
The Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board subsequently retained Archaeological Consultants, Inc. to conduct a city-wide survey of all previously-unrecorded pre-1945 historic resources within the city limits. The 1997 report, entitled Tallahassee Neighborhood Survey, Phase IV, includes some Gaines Street Corridor resources not identified in previous surveys.
For purposes of reference, these reports are referred to as the 1991 Survey and the 1997 Survey, respectively. Unless otherwise noted, all historical information included in this report comes from the 1991 survey. Additionally, properties that are listed in the Florida Master Site File (FMSF), the state inventory of potentially historic sites, are noted as (8LE1000). If the property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this will be indicated by “NR.”
Significant Resources in the Gaines Street Corridor
Gaines Street today is a corridor of landmarks and special enclaves, some of which are listed or are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. National Register landmarks along Gaines Street include Cascades Park, Old City Waterworks, and the Caroline Brevard Grammar School (now the Bloxham Building) which is just outside the study area. Other significant structures include the Old County Jail (now the Department of State Division of Corporations Office), the WPA District Office and Old Health Department building, and a series of warehouses along the western end of Gaines Street.
Special enclaves in the corridor include the historic All Saints Neighborhood and the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood, both of which include districts eligible for listing in the National Register. Another concentration of historic resources are located within the Florida State University Transition Zone.
Additionally, there are known and potential archaeological resources in the Gaines Street Corridor. Nine sites have been identified in the corridor, and it is highly likely that there are more to be discovered. The eastern end of the corridor has five identified sites. Of these, three are nineteenth and twentieth century historic refuse sites, one is undetermined, and the fifth is Cascades Park. At the western end of the corridor, three prehistoric campsites have been identified as well as a Fort Walton Period farmstead from c. 1000-1500 A.D.
It is highly likely that more sites remain, including additional nineteenth and early twentieth century historic refuse sites related to the residential development in the area, sites associated with the many industrial facilities located in the area over its history, and additional evidence of prehistoric inhabitation. Additionally, at the end of the Civil War Union Troops camped in the Gaines Street Corridor, and it is possible that artifacts associated with their encampment might also be discovered (conversation with Barbara Mattick, Bureau of Historic Preservation). The 1991 Study notes that there is some documentary evidence that the Seminole Town of Tallahassa Taloofa or Tonaby’s Town, as well as the mission of San Antonio de Bacugua may be situated within the Gaines Street Corridor area.
Future development in the area should be undertaken with full sensitivity to the high potential for significant archaeological features. The presence of known sites should be confirmed with the Bureau of Archeological Research, Florida Department of State. Additionally, the City should contemplate applying for a state grant to undertake additional archaeological survey work to establish zones of sensitivity and identify significant resources prior to undertaking redevelopment work. It may be possible to partner with the Anthropology Department at Florida State University to undertake some of this work.
Parameters of this Report
This Historic Preservation Plan is being undertaken as part of the City of Tallahassee’s Vitalization Plan for the Gaines Street Corridor. Because the area had been surveyed extensively for historical resources, the focus of this project was not to conduct additional historical research, but rather to develop strategies to preserve significant historic landmarks and areas within the corridor.
The first phase of the project was to assemble base maps. The consultant worked with staff of the Bureau of Archaeological Research, Florida Department of State and the City of Tallahassee to obtain and reconcile various historical resource maps of the area. This involved comparing the data in the files of the City and State and developing a unified base map. Then the consultant field checked the unified base map, noting resources that had been demolished or incorrectly located on the map. The consultant then gathered all Florida Master Site File forms for the corridor to assist with the project.
The second phase entailed identifying various subareas of historic resources, and working with staff of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Florida Department of State to identify resources and districts eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The subareas developed for the purposes of this study include the Gaines Street Corridor, the All Saints Revitalization Area, the Railroad Avenue Corridor, the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood, and the FSU Transition Zone. Several districts within these subareas were found to be eligible for listing in the National Register. While not found to be eligible for the National Register, Railroad Square is discussed briefly in a separate section.
The third phase involved identifying available City, State and Federal programs that could be used in the preservation of historic resources, and exploring how they could be implemented in each of the significant subareas. Programs studied included the City of Tallahassee’s Historic Preservation Grant and Loan Program and various affordable housing programs, the State of Florida’s Historic Preservation Grant-in-Aid Program, and numerous federal programs for historic preservation. A brief overview of some of these programs is included in the Historic Preservation Toolbox, included as Appendix 2.
The fourth phase encompassed a Historic Resources Market Analysis conducted by Real Estate Research Consultants, a subcontractor on the project, to develop specific preservation strategies. Buildings selected for this analysis, include the Old City Waterworks at the eastern end of Gaines Street, the Wahnish Cigar Factory, Coca Cola Building and a concentration of residential structures in the All Saints Neighborhood, and the Amtrak Station and a representative 1940s warehouse along the Railroad Avenue Corridor.
Because the Redevelopment Plan for the Gaines Street Corridor will emphasize the revitalization of the All Saints Neighborhood, there is special focus on preservation opportunities presented in this area.
In this section, the history and development of the area immediately adjacent to Gaines Street will be discussed and explored. Today, Gaines Street is often viewed as an unattractive entrance to Tallahassee. The western end includes a variety of industrial and commercial uses housed in buildings constructed over the last 70 years. There are a number of vacant lots, and the historic character of the area is not dominant. East of Duval Street, one enters an enclave of state government buildings constructed since the 1940s, as well as some significant early city and county public works landmarks that give the eastern end of the corridor its distinctive character.
As indicated previously, the Cascade at the very eastern end of Gaines Street was one of the reasons for the selection of the present location of the City of Tallahassee. In the September 24,1825 Pensacola Gazette it was described as “a beautiful cascade, which was formed by the rivulet above described falling over a ledge of rocks into a deep glen, which forms almost a circle of about seventy yards in diameter and disappears at the bottom of the same ledge of rocks, very near to the cascade.”
Initially, in 1825 a City Reserve was established adjacent to the Cascade to protect the water supply. However, the city soon began leasing this land out for a tanning yard, planing mill, and ice company. The city also began using this area for city services. Over the years, the area was home to the Tallahassee Gas and Electric Company, County Jail, City Waterworks, municipal sewerage system, city incinerator and other uses. Making matters worse, when the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad had established its line in the 1850s, it traversed the streamlet that fed the Cascade. By the 1870s, the railroad was dumping ties into the Cascade to stabilize the rail bed. This ultimately backed up the stream and by the 1880s, the Cascade had disappeared, creating a pond. While the pond was initially used as a community swimming hole, as mosquitoes became an increasing problem the city began filling the pond with trash beginning in the 1920s. By 1953, the pond was completely filled.
While the eastern end of the corridor was home to early government services, the western end evolved more slowly. The coming of the railroad led to industrial uses adjacent to the tracks and depots. Residential areas began to be established in the area as well. As noted, in 1946 the Taylor Plan called for the eastern portion of Gaines Street to be used for a series of state office buildings. This resulted in the demolition of numerous residences once located in the area, and brought about the dominance of large state office buildings seen today east of Duval Street. To the west, the character became increasingly industrialized along Gaines Street.
Current Development Patterns–For the purposes of this study, the corridor has been broken into two subareas. The first is the area east of Duval Street, and includes a “governmental zone” consisting of state office buildings and early city and county institutional buildings. The second area, described as the industrial zone, extends west from 600 West Gaines Street.
Historical Resources–The area east of Duval Street includes some of Gaines Street’s most significant historic landmarks, a number of which have been included in the National Register of Historic Places. Both the Old Electric Company (8LE 322, NR) and the Old City Incinerator (8LE323, NR) are located in Cascades Park, which is listed in the National Register. These are important community landmarks and their adaptive use and sensitive rehabilitation should be actively promoted.
Other resources include the Old City Waterworks (8LE495, NR), which has also been listed in the National Register. Using state grant assistance, the City stabilized this building in the 1980s and developed plans for its conversion into office space. Unfortunately, rehabilitation has not taken place. As part of this study, a market analysis has been conducted for potential adaptive uses. The City is strongly encouraged to pursue a grant through the Florida Department of State to assist with the rehabilitation of this important engineering landmark. A grant was previously (unsuccessfully) submitted. It should be reevaluated and refined for possible resubmission.
Also National Register-listed (although not technically within the study area) is the Bloxham Building at 727 South Calhoun Street (8LE267, NR) which was constructed as the Caroline Brevard Grammar School in the 1920s. It has been rehabilitated and is an imposing landmark. Another visual landmark is the Firestone Building (8LE500). Built in the 1936 as the Old Leon County Jail, the building features Art Deco detailing. However, due to the nature of the rehabilitation, the building is not eligible for listing in the National Register.
An interesting cluster of buildings exist on the south side of the 300 block of East Gaines Street. Two of these buildings were constructed between 1940 and 1941 and feature Art Moderne influences. Both now house state offices, but the building at 319 East Gaines Street (8LE1810) was constructed for use as the district office by the Works Progress Administration and the building at 325 East Gaines Street (8LE1811) originally housed the Leon County Health Unit. Both are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The third building, at 309 East Gaines Street (8LE1815), was originally a residence constructed in 1934-35. It too now contains state offices.
The three remaining FMSF buildings in the Governmental Zone (8LE 266, 268, 274) are state office buildings that at present do not have sufficient significance for National Register designation.
The City of Tallahassee owns a significant Gaines Street historic resource–the Old City Waterworks. With a grant from the Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, the building has been stabilized and plans developed for the adaptive use of the building as office space. The City then applied for a grant to undertake the rehabilitation, but was unsuccessful because it did not show sufficient community support for the project.
As part of this current study, market analysis has been conducted on the facility. The City should consider using this new information to update the plans for the building, and preparing a new application to the Department of State for matching funds for rehabilitation. It will be important to show that the project is well thought out and that there is strong local support.
The State of Florida oversees another significant resource, Cascades Park. This beautiful but contaminated open space includes two historic buildings. Plans for sensitive adaptive use of the buildings and restoration of the parklands should be encouraged and supported by the City of Tallahassee. This is a resource of major significance, and if sensitively adapted, can make an important contribution to the character and vitality of the area.
Finally, two other buildings owned by the State of Florida, 319 East Gaines Street and 325 East Gaines Street are eligible for listing in the National Register. The state should be urged to consider nominating them.
This area extends west from Duval Street, and includes two FMSF properties located on the 600 and 700 block of West Gaines Street. They are one- to one-and-a-half story masonry vernacular warehouses constructed between 1925 and 1929 (8LE1850-1851). While these are important remnants of Tallahassee’s industrial heritage, none appear to possess sufficient significance to merit individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Four properties have since been demolished. Three were on the 200-400 block of West Gaines Street and were one-story frame vernacular residences, and the fourth was a frame vernacular residence on the 900 block. As much of the historic character of this area west of Duval Street has been lost, there are no preservation recommendations for this area.
All Saints Revitalization District
The historic All Saints Neighborhood derives its name from the streets (including All Saints, St. Francis, St. Michael and St. Peter) that crisscross the area. This small enclave just south of Gaines Street includes a mixture of residential, office, commercial and industrial uses that have evolved over the neighborhood’s 100 plus years of existence. The developed area is bounded by the Florida Department of Education building to the east, the railroad tracks to the south, and backs up to Railroad Avenue to the west. For planning purposes, the area is also defined to include a vacant block to the north of Gaines Street to provide important linkages to downtown Tallahassee.
Visually, the All Saints Neighborhood can be divided into two zones. The eastern half of the neighborhood (roughly east of St. Michael’s Street, but including a few residential structures on the west side) retains its one- to two-and-a-half-story wood frame vernacular residential buildings that now house a mixture of residential and office uses. The western half of the neighborhood is dominated by one- to two-story masonry vernacular industrial structures and uses.
During the antebellum period, George K. Walker established a plantation, a small portion of which would later be developed as the All Saints Neighborhood. In 1883 (long after Walker’s death), his estate recorded the Walker Subdivision, which included 51 small lots as well as St. Francis, St. Michael and All Saints Streets. Some of these had been sold and developed prior to 1883, including the land for the c. 1870 Williams House (8LE329, NR), now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sanborn Insurance Company Maps–A valuable tool for historic preservation is the Sanborn Insurance Company Maps. These maps, released every few years in the late 1800s and early 1900s, show the “footprints” of buildings in urbanized areas in communities across the nation. They provide important information on the evolution of neighborhoods.
The All Saints Neighborhood first shows up in the 1909 Sanborn Insurance Company Map. Originally, the “Saint” street names extended to Adams Street, revealing that the neighborhood was once about twice its present size. Shown on the 1909 map is the A. Wahnish Tobacco Ware House and several adjoining residential structures on St. Francis, St. Anthony and All Saints. Also depicted is the Middle Florida Ice Company complex, including bottling works, ice machine, and freezing facilities along St. Michael Street and hugging the Seaboard Air Line Rail Road tracks.
By 1916, the bulk of the neighborhood is shown in the Sanborn Map, and it is predominantly residential in character. The two exceptions are the earlier-mentioned Wahnish and Middle Florida Ice Company complexes in the western half of the neighborhood. With the exception of a few new houses, some changes in storage sheds, and the construction of the Leon County Milk Company Building across the street from the Ice Company, the All Saints Neighborhood remains virtually unchanged in the 1926 Sanborn Maps. More intensive industrial development in the western half of the neighborhood is seen in the 1930 Sanborn Maps, which were updated to include new development from the 1940s to 1960s. Therefore, from these maps is not possible to determine the dates for post 1930 development. Other sources, including the Tallahassee City Directory, can provide greater guidance on this.
By the early 20th century, according to the 1991 Survey, South Bronough, South Boulevard, and St. Francis Streets had predominantly white residents, many of them railroad employees, and persons with clerical and bookkeeping jobs. Residents on All Saints, South Macomb and Madison Street west of Boulevard tended to be black laborers and domestic servants. St. Francis Street was not paved until 1940, and other streets remained unpaved until 1946.
Zoning for Industrial Development–The western half of the neighborhood grew increasingly industrial in character after the 1930s. As noted earlier, the area around the depots were designated by the City for industrial and commercial uses in 1925, and this orientation was reinforced by the 1946 Taylor Plan which established the western part of the Gaines Street Corridor as an industrial area.
As noted, for the purposes of this study, the All Saints Neighborhood has been broken into two subdistricts–the area east of St. Michael Street which retains a residential scale and is referred to as Zone A, and the area west of St. Michael which is dominated by industrial structures and is referred to as Zone B.
Zone A–All Saints Revitalization District
Current Development Patterns–As noted, the eastern area known as Zone A retains a residential appearance. There are 26 structures currently standing in this zone . Of these buildings, 20 were included in the Florida Master Site File, but 4 have since been demolished. Of the 16 remaining FMSF properties, all were constructed as residences, although some have since been converted to office and commercial use. The 6 properties not included in the FMSF were more recent construction. Several are relatively new office buildings, and one is an older industrial structure.
All of the FMSF structures are one- to two-and-a-half-story wood frame vernacular structures. Most are rectangular in form, although several are square or irregular. Several were constructed in the mid- to late-1800s; however, the vast majority were constructed in the early 1900s, most prior to 1926. The area also includes two parks–Doug Burnette and Gaines Street Parks–that provide important greenspace for this neighborhood.
Historical Resources–Previously identified historic resources in this neighborhood include the c. 1870 Williams House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This two-and-a-half story residence is being converted to office use, although its rehabilitation has not been undertaken in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. However, as it is the oldest structure in the All Saints Neighborhood, special effort needs to be undertaken to protect the historic context of this property. To date, no other properties have been listed in this area, although a number have been determined eligible for listing by the State Historic Preservation Office.
As noted, another significant feature of this area is the two parks–Doug Burnette and Gaines Street Parks–that are remnants of the original two-hundred foot wide clearing that surrounded the original City of Tallahassee. These parks retain major significance as a remnant of the original plan for the City of Tallahassee. Their preservation and enjoyment should be a significant component of the area’s redevelopment plans. They should be added to the Florida Master Site File, and be included in the proposed National Register Historic District.
Character-Defining Features–There are a number of “character defining features” that give Zone A of the All Saints Neighborhood its character and charm. Visible features include the building scale, mass, setbacks and materials, the vegetation, and the area’s terrain. Not visible but significant are the archaeological resources likely to be present in the area.
Building Scale, Mass, Setbacks and Materials–Of the 16 FMSF properties, 11 are one story buildings, with the balance including one two-and-a-half story, one two story, and two one-and-a-half story buildings. As noted, all are frame vernacular, and eleven rest on piers. The buildings are relatively small in square footage. The one story buildings range from 720 to 2454 square feet, with the average being 1225 square feet. The lot sizes are relatively small, and there are relatively small setbacks from the buildings to the lot lines. Due to the configuration of the lots, a number of the buildings are rectangular in form, with the narrow elevation facing the street.
Significant Vegetative and Physiographic Features–Other distinctive features of this portion of the All Saints Neighborhood include the dense vegetation, including a number of mature live oak trees. Also distinctive is the terrain which slopes down dramatically south of All Saints Street to the railroad tracks. New development should be sensitive to these natural features.
Potential Archaeological Features–This area has a high potential for historic refuse sites, due to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century development of this area. Further archaeological investigation is recommended prior to redevelopment of the All Saints Neighborhood.
Historic Preservation Recommendations
National Register Historic District–A portion of the All Saints Neighborhood has been found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. General criteria for listing include that the resources be 50 years old or older, possess historic, architectural and/or archaeological significance, and retain their architectural integrity. Benefits would include making income-producing properties eligible for Federal Investment Tax Credits, and bring recognition to this underappreciated part of town.
Local Designation–Consideration should also be given to local historic preservation designation through the City of Tallahassee. Owners of designated properties are then eligible to apply for City of Tallahassee Historic Preservation grants for appropriate rehabilitation projects that follow federal preservation standards. They would also be required to have exterior alterations requiring a building permit to be reviewed by the Tallahassee-Leon County Architectural Review Board.
Compatible Infill Development–There are a number of lots suitable for compatible infill in this portion of the All Saints Neighborhood. Following are some general guidelines that should be considered:
• encourage new development to be from one to two stories in height.
• encourage new development to replicate the placement of buildings shown in the 1926 Sanborn Insurance Company Map
• if greater square footage is desired in existing development, encourage that additional density to be added to the rear of the building so as to not be visible from public right-of-way.
• encourage the design of buildings with narrow frontages
• encourage wood clad buildings, or use modern materials that emulate that appearance
• encourage the use of buildings that appear residential in character, including front porches
• promote the use of compatible contemporary design, rather than trying to replicate historic structures
• maintain significant mature trees and other vegetation whenever possible
Zone B–All Saints Revitalization District
Current Development Patterns–The All Saints Neighborhood to the west of St. Michael Street is more industrial in character than the eastern end. These buildings are from one- to two-stories in height, and exhibit a range of masonry vernacular features.
Historical Resources–There are 7 Florida Master Site File properties in the western end of the All Saints Neighborhood. One of these, the Old Clock Tower (8LE239), has been demolished. Significant industrial landmarks in the western half of the neighborhood include the c.1907 former Wahnish Cigar Factory–now the CowHaus (8LE240A-C), c. 1940 Old Coca Cola Building (8LE1829) and the c. 1910-20 Middle Florida Ice Company Cold Storage building (8LE1860). The remaining three FMSF industrial structures, while representative of the industrial development of the area, are not individually significant.
Sanborn Insurance Company Maps reveal that as late as 1926, the area was still predominantly residential. The main industrial buildings (excluding those along Railroad Avenue) were the Middle Florida Ice Company Building (now demolished) and its Cold Storage facility (still standing), and the Wahnish Cigar Factory (still standing). The site of the present Coca Cola building had a residence in 1926. The only pre-1926 residential structure west of St. Michael Street that is still standing today is the c. 1870 Williams Building which is discussed under Zone A.
According to the 1991 Survey, the Middle Florida Ice Factory and Bottling Works opened in All Saints sometime prior to 1895 on a site immediately adjacent to the railroad tracks on St. Michael Street. Between 1910 and 1920 Middle Florida Ice constructed a Cold Storage facility immediately to the north of its factory. It began bottling Coca Cola in 1904, and split off a separate company for that purpose in 1930. In 1940 the Coca Cola building was constructed to the north of the Cold Storage facility. While the Cold Storage remains, the c. 1895 factory has been demolished.
Another major landmark is the Wahnish Cigar Factory on St. Francis Street. A. Wahnish built his two story factory at the corner of All Saints and Macomb streets in 1907. He moved his existing tobacco packing and cigar making operations to this new facility, which was expanded several times over the years. In full operation, it could house as many as 107 workers. By 1911 the building was home to Wahnish’s son’s Tampa Stogie Manufacturing Company. In later years, it would house the Hill City Manufacturing and Machine Company, a bakery, a mattress factory operated by the Federal Emergency Relief Agency, and the Tallahassee Pipe and Supply Company. It later housed McGowan Electric Company, and now features a bar, the Cowhaus. This building is individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Adjacent to the building is a fine Patriarch Oak.
One feature that bears mention is the now demolished Old Clock Tower which was located at 815 South Macomb Street. Constructed circa 1911 by the eccentric architect Calvin B. Phillips, the Old Clock Tower was a distinctive community landmark since its construction. Phillips lived in the adjoining home and is buried in the exotic onion-domed mausoleum he designed in Oakland Cemetery. The Florida Heritage Foundation, Tallahassee’s first historic preservation organization, unsuccessfully attempted to save the Old Clock Tower from demolition in the early 1970s The Old Clock Tower motif, known and loved by many longtime Tallahassee residents, would be an interesting design concept to use in the All Saints Neighborhood revitalization efforts.
Character-Defining Features–The character defining features for Zone B are different from those in Zone A. While both share lush vegetation, the buildings in Zone B are larger in scale and mass, typically cover much more of the lots, and masonry buildings predominate.
Building Scale, Mass, Setbacks and Materials–The three significant Florida Master Site File properties in Zone B (Wahnish Cigar Factory, the Middle Florida Ice Company Cold Storage building, and the Coca Cola building) have a number of design characteristics in common. In addition to their industrial use, all three are two stories in height (with the Coca Cola building also having a basement) and of masonry vernacular design. The buildings also cover a significant portion of their lots and have relatively modest front setbacks.
Significant Vegetative and Physiographic Features–As with Zone A, the character of Zone B is enhanced by the lush vegetation that exists throughout the area, including mature live oaks. To the east of the Wahnish Cigar Factory is a Patriarch Oak. Zone B also features terrain that slopes both to the west and the south, and a distinctive feature of the area is the rubble retaining walls on a number of properties on St. Francis, All Saints and St. Michael Streets.
Potential Archaeological Features–This area also has potential for historic refuse sites from both the nineteenth century residences that previously occupied the area. As an example, the vacant lot adjacent to the Wahnish Cigar Factory featured eight residential buildings in 1926. There is also the possibility of early industrial features, particularly associated with the now demolished Middle Florida Ice Company Building.
Historic Preservation Recommendations
National Register Properties–As noted, a portion of Zone B could be incorporated into the National Register District Nomination recommended on page 14 of this report. In addition, despite its alterations, the Wahnish Cigar Factory would be individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. If the property continued to be used for income-producing purposes, this would make the owner eligible to receive a 20% tax credit for rehabilitation that follows federal preservation guidelines.
Local Designation–The City of Tallahassee’s local historic preservation designation process could also be contemplated for the Wahnish Cigar Factory, making the owner eligible to apply for City grants to rehabilitate the building according to federal historic preservation standards.
Compatible Infill Development–The character-defining features of this predominantly industrial area include two-story masonry buildings that cover a large portion of their lots. This area would be suitable for more intensive development than is seen in Zone A. However, care should be taken to protect significant vegetative features (including the Patriarch Oak), the distinctive rubble retaining walls, and significant archaeological features as identified. Following are some general guidelines for compatible infill for Zone B:
• encourage new development to be from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half stories in height.
• allow greater lot coverage than would be permitted in Zone A
• encourage the use of masonry construction
• promote the use of compatible contemporary design, rather than trying to replicate historic structures
• ensure a sensitive buffer between Zone B development and the Williams House on St. Francis Street
• maintain significant mature trees and other vegetation whenever possible
• maintain the rubble retaining walls whenever possible
• consider using the Old Clock Tower motif as a design feature in the area
Railroad Avenue Corridor
For the purposes of this study, the Railroad Avenue Corridor is the area between Madison Street to the north and McDonnell Drive/Van Buren Street to the south. The most distinctive features of the area include the railroad tracks and associated buildings. The area, historically known as Depot Street, also has a number of warehouses and other industrial buildings, some of them historic.
As noted previously, the railroad had a significant impact on the development of the Gaines Street Corridor. The first railroad, albeit mule-drawn, came to the area in 1837. In the second half of the century, new lines began to be developed through the corridor. The whole area, and Railroad Avenue in particular, became home to a variety of industrial uses and facilities, including mills, warehouses, and lumber yards. By 1914 a series of businesses were located on Depot Street, including the Capitol City Grocery Company warehouse, Anderson’s Feed and Grain, Howard’s hardware warehouse, Standard Oil Company’s bulk plant, the Middle Florida Fruit Company, and the Farmer’s Cotton Company’s cotton and guano warehouse.
Current Development Patterns-This corridor extends four blocks from north to south, and includes a mixture of old and new industrial and commercial structures. Especially on the block between Madison and Gaines, there is considerable vacant land. South of Gaines Street there are a greater number of buildings, but there is not a sense of cohesion or architectural unity in the area at present.
Historical Resources–Seven historic resources that have been identified in the Florida Master Site File remain along Railroad Avenue. They were built between c. 1858 and 1941, although four of these were built between 1930 and 1941. The most distinctive is today’s Amtrak Station (8LE241, NR). This building was originally constructed as the depot for the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad. Its date of construction remains in dispute. Some say it was constructed between 1858 and 1867 to coincide with the opening of the new rail line to Lake City. Others believe it was constructed in the 1880s. Nonetheless, this historic landmark at 918 Railroad Avenue has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Also included in the National Register is the Capitol City Grocery Warehouse (8LE1857, NR) immediately to the north. Constructed in c. 1911-12, this building is not easily visible from the road and is in need of rehabilitation. Both of these buildings are included in the attached Market Analysis.
Three warehouses in the 1000 block of Railroad Avenue are also included in the FMSF. They were constructed between 1930 and 1941, and the property at 1021 Railroad Avenue is also included in the Market Analysis.
Another landmark is the Seaboard passenger depot on the east side of Railroad Avenue. It was constructed in 1905 by Atlanta contractors J.H. McKenzie and Sons. By 1925, passenger rail service was flourishing, with an average of 75 people a day boarding a train in Tallahassee, and 110 freight cars terminating in Tallahassee every month. Once a distinctive building, the passenger depot was seriously altered. While its preservation should remain an important goal, it is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Historic Preservation Recommendations
Because Railroad Avenue is more eclectic in character and the historic resources are less concentrated than the All Saints Neighborhood discussed above, the historic preservation recommendations are more general in nature. Recommendations include:
• encourage the adaptive reuse of all of the FMSF properties on Railroad Avenue, as they are important reminders of this community’s industrial heritage.
• ensure that new design in this area is generally compatible in scale (one to two story with high lot coverage) and materials (masonry construction) with the historic resources.
• quality contemporary design instead of historic replicas is encouraged
• while the Seaboard Passenger Depot is not eligible for the National Register, consideration should be given to its adaptive use and restoration, if that opportunity becomes available.
The Sterns-Mosley Neighborhood is a small, traditionally African-American neighborhood south of Gaines Street. Encircled and traversed by railroad tracks, today the neighborhood is characterized by modest one story frame vernacular residences that were constructed for the most part in the 1920s and 1930s. Newer construction includes the Pilgrims Rest Primitive Baptist Church (1961) and two 1960s apartment complexes on Stearns Street.
According to the 1991 Survey, the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood was platted in 1885 as the Damon Subdivision. This was probably the site of the Damon brickyard which was established in the 1860s. The plat included 17 large lots and was recorded in Leon County Deed Book Z:600. The Elberta Crate and Box Company opened nearby in 1922, providing a major boost to employment in the region. It employed about 500 people at this operation by 1940, and stimulated residential development nearby, including in the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood. Unfortunately, this neighborhood was not covered in the early Sanborn Insurance Company Maps, so it was not possible to ascertain the physical evolution of the area between the neighborhood’s platting in 1885 and its residential boom which began around 1920. Only the extreme eastern part of the neighborhood is depicted in the 1926 Sanborn Map.
Current Development Patterns–When the neighborhood was originally platted in 1885, the lots were relatively large. Some were subsequently subdivided to include numerous small lots, while other large lots had only one residence constructed on them. As a result, portions of the neighborhood feature relatively dense clusters of small homes, while other areas retain significant open space. Mature vegetation, including live oak and pecan trees, contribute to the character of the area. The 1991 survey included the speculation that at one time this area was home to a pecan grove.
Streets in the neighborhood include Stearns, Mosley, Seaboard, Ajax (known as “Lilja Street” in the 1920s), and a small remnant of Allison Street. As noted, the railroad tracks are also a dominant feature in the neighborhood. This has resulted in numerous awkwardly shaped and sometimes difficult to access lots within the neighborhood. Bisecting the eastern edge of the neighborhood is what was once the Seaboard Air Line. Cutting through the middle of the neighborhood is a spur line that once connected the Seaboard with the Georgia, Florida, and Alabama Railroad (which once ran north of and parallel to Gaines Street). To the west is a track on right of way that was once part of the Carrabelle, Tallahassee and Georgia Railroad.
Historical Resources–Twenty-five structures in Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood are listed in the Florida Master Site File. The 1991 Survey added 20 structures to the FMSF. One of the structures, at 1207 Stearns Street (8Le1842), has been demolished since it was surveyed. Another is the Pilgrim’s Rest Primitive Baptist Church (8LE1838). The current building was constructed in 1961, and the church previously had been located outside the neighborhood.
The 1997 Survey added five additional properties. With the exception of Pilgrim’s Rest Primitive Baptist Church and one residence built in “1941+”, the balance of the FMSF properties–all residences–were identified as being constructed between 1919 and 1938. These frame vernacular structures include a variety of exterior plans, including rectangular, gable front and wing and shotgun forms. Two of the residences are two stories in height, with the balance being one story.
Most of these buildings have undergone some form of alteration that diminishes their historical integrity. Alterations include replaced windows, new siding, altered porches, in-filled foundations and other such changes. In some cases, the alterations are easily reversible. In other instances, however, the alterations are more extensive.
Historic Preservation Recommendations
National Register Historic District–Neither survey found the area eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. However, on September 29, 1999, the consultant toured the area with Barbara Mattick and Bob Jones of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Florida Department of State, who both concluded that the northern portion of the neighborhood would indeed be eligible for listing. These boundaries are noted on Map 5. Due to the need for redevelopment in this area, it is suggested that only the area north of the dashed line be nominated.
While there are integrity problems with some of the buildings (i.e., they have been altered over the years), this is mitigated by the fact that this appears to be the only African-American neighborhood that survives in the Gaines Street Corridor. Additional research would need to be conducted and a National Register nomination form completed for this area if designation were desired.
Benefits of listing include the recognition that it would bring to this area as the only remaining African-American neighborhood in the Gaines Street corridor. It would also make the owners of income-producing historic properties that undergo certified rehabilitation (meeting federal preservation standards) eligible for the 20% Federal Investment Tax Credits, and government or nonprofit preservation projects in the district would be eligible to apply for state historic preservation grants-in-aid.
Local Designation–The City of Tallahassee has established a process to locally designate historic buildings and districts. Owners of such properties are then eligible to apply for City of Tallahassee Historic Preservation grants for appropriate rehabilitation projects that follow federal preservation standards. Local designation of the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood would be an appropriate tool to recognize the history of this area and promote its preservation.
Affordable Housing Incentives–If the residential uses in this neighborhood are to be preserved, it might be possible to use affordable housing incentives in combination with preservation techniques to rehabilitate these buildings. According to Michael Parker of the City of Tallahassee, there are several programs that may be of assistance in this neighborhood. He indicated that the area is within the boundaries of the newly created CRA and that promoting affordable housing is one of the goals.
In summary, City of Tallahassee programs include a rehabilitation program for owner-occupied, single family residences. Through this program, owners receive up to a $25,000 loan at zero percent interest. If the owner continues to live in the home for five years, the principal is waived. There is also an emergency repair program for up to $7500 for homeowners. For rental properties, the City will provide loans of up to 50% of the cost of rehabilitation at zero percent interest. The principal is due after five years.
It might be advantageous to seek designation of the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood as a priority area within the CRA to ensure targeting of funds and assistance.
Sensitive Relocation of Buildings–It was determined that the southern half of the neighborhood and the portion on the eastern side of Atlas Street (on the opposite side of the railroad tracks) would not be eligible for listing in the National Register because of the intrusion of two 1960s apartment complexes on Stearns Street and the fragmented siting of the remaining historical resources. However, several of the remaining historic resources in the southern half of the neighborhood are architecturally significant, and are included in the Florida Master Site File. On-site preservation of these buildings is the most preferred option.
If, however, the southern half of the neighborhood is slated for more intensive development and the demolition of these resources seems likely, it would be appropriate to sensitively relocate them to sites in the historic district (see Appendix 1–Preservation Issues Section–for discussion of sensitive relocation of historic buildings). Anyone contemplating such relocation would be wise to contact the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Florida Department of State, for guidance on the move.
Compatible Infill Development–As Tallahassee continues to grow, and in town development becomes more popular due to traffic congestion, it is inevitable that the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood will experience infill development. Development that occurs within the historic area should be encouraged to be compatible with the area’s character and scale. Character-defining features of this neighborhood include its single-family residential character, its one-story wood frame vernacular architecture, its mature vegetation, and its close proximity to the railroad. Below are some general guidelines for compatible infill for this historic area:
• encourage new development to be from one to one-and-a-half stories in height.
• encourage new development that reinforces the dense, single family residential building footprint currently found in the eastern and western edges of the historic area.
• if greater square footage is desired in existing development, encourage that additional density to be added the rear of the building so as to not be visible from public right-of-way.
• encourage wood clad buildings, or use modern materials that emulate that appearance
• encourage the use of front porches
• promote the use of compatible contemporary design, rather than trying to replicate historic structures
• consider maintaining an area of open space and developing it as a community park or playground
• maintain significant mature trees and other vegetation whenever possible
FSU Transition Zone
Interestingly, little background research has been conducted on the FSU Transition Zone, roughly bounded by Gaines Street to the south, Railroad Avenue to the east, Pensacola Street to the north, and Stadium Drive to the west. As the 1991Survey indicated, development typically moved from west to east in the study area, and this appears to be true for this area as well, as substantiated in the Sanborn Maps. By the 1926 Sanborn Map, the area was well-developed with small single family residences. In subsequent years, some homes were replaced with industrial facilities, and other homes simply demolished. Many of the remaining resources were included in the Florida Master Site File as a result of the 1997 survey.
In recent years, a number of the residences have been demolished. Contributing to the instability of the area is the fact that the area is included in the Master Campus Plan for Florida State University as being slated for demolition and major redevelopment. Many of the buildings are now used for student housing, with some owners apparently in a “holding pattern” until their properties are condemned for inclusion in the FSU campus. Additionally, the one-way pairing of St. Augustine and Pensacola Streets has led to high speed traffic through the area, strongly diminishing its original single-family residential character.
Despite the intrusive nature of the roads and the loss of some historic fabric, a portion of the area is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a district. It would be appropriate to work with Florida State University to determine if on-site preservation and adaptive reuse of this area is feasible, given the plans for the area.
The area now known as Railroad Square originally consisted of a series of open-sided lumber sheds. According to the 1997 survey, they were constructed in 1941 for the McDonnell Lumber Company; however, current owners feel some might date to the late 1800s. The company had its offices immediately to the south, and chose this site for its lumber sheds because of its proximity to the railroad depot to the north. In the 1960s, walls were added to the sheds and the area became the Downtown Industrial Park. In 1976 the area became known as Railroad Square, and the owners began encouraging artists to establish galleries in the area. Two frame vernacular houses and a railroad caboose were later located to the site.
The 1997 survey resulted in 9 Florida Master Site File forms for Railroad Square. However, because of the nature of the alterations to the structures, none of the buildings were determined to be “contributing” to the character of a district. A driving tour of the area on September 29, 1999 with representatives of the Florida Department of State confirmed that the area was not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
However, the area retains a funky and eclectic character, and provides one of the few good examples of mixed development in Tallahassee. According to an article in the Tallahassee Democrat (October 3, 1999), today the 10-acre park has 75 tenants, more than 70 percent of which are “artists, artisans or art -related businesses.” The efforts of the owners to promote Railroad Square should be supported. Other Historic Resources
The vast majority of resources in the Gaines Street Corridor fall into one of the above planning areas. However, there are a few scattered resources that have not been discussed in previous sections of this report. They include scattered frame vernacular residences on Van Buren, FAMU Way, Bloxham and Eugenia Streets, none of which appear eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The only not previously mentioned resource eligible for the National Register is Gramlings (8LE1862) at 1010 South Adams Street. This fine early twentieth century commercial building is a remnant of Tallahassee’s more agrarian heritage. The owners should be commended for their maintenance of this fine institution.
There are a number of fine historic resources and districts within the Gaines Street Study Area. As the area is redeveloped, every effort should be made to encourage the preservation of significant remnants of the past while promoting compatible new development. In summary, recommendations include:
Gaines Street Corridor
• Urging the City of Tallahassee to seek funding to rehabilitate and adaptively use the Old City Waterworks.
• Encouraging the State of Florida to restore Cascades Park and its historic buildings to viable use that contributes to the vitality of this area.
• Recommending that the State of Florida nominate its properties at 319 and 325 East Gaines Street to the National Register of Historic Places.
All Saints Neighborhood
• Considering nominating the outlined district to the National Register of Historic Places.
• Considering designating the area as a City of Tallahassee Historic Preservation Overlay Zone to encourage preservation and make the area eligible for city incentives.
• Recommending individually nominating the Wahnish Cigar Factory to the National Register of Historic Places and designating it under the Overlay Zone.
• Establishing design guidelines for the All Saints Neighborhood to encourage new development compatible with the historic character of the area.
• Maintaining mature vegetation and significant design features such as rubble retaining walls, where feasible.
Railroad Avenue Corridor
• Encouraging the adaptive use of both train depots and older warehouses to new uses compatible with the character of the area.
• Promoting new development that respects the character of the scattered historic landmarks along the corridor.
• Considering nominating the outlined district to the National Register of Historic Places.
• Considering designating the area as a City of Tallahassee Historic Preservation Overlay Zone to encourage preservation and make the area eligible for city incentives.
• Considering requesting the Community Redevelopment Agency to designate the neighborhood as a priority area for affordable housing funding and other assistance.
• Establishing design guidelines for the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood to encourage new development compatible with the historic character of the area.
• Maintaining mature vegetation and significant open spaces, where feasible.
FSU Transition Zone
• Considering working with Florida State University to develop preservation options for the National Register-eligible historic district in the FSU Transition Zone.
• While the area is not eligible for the National Register, working to support the efforts of the owners to promote the arts.
• Working with the owners of Gramlings to list their property in the National Register, if desired.
• Considering pursuing a state grant to assist with additional archaeological investigation to identify significant resources throughout the corridor prior to redevelopment activities taking place.
The Gaines Street Corridor has tremendous potential to become a distinctive and unique corner of Tallahassee. From its scenic parklands to its historic enclaves, the corridor retains much that is special. It is hoped this report will help ensure the continued preservation of those resources as the area redevelops.
The Early Development of the Gaines Street Corridor
A report prepared for the Florida Department of Transportation in 1991 by Archaeological Consultants Incorporated, A Cultural Resource Assessment Survey of Gaines Street and Bloxham Street One-Way Pair Study Between Meridian Road on the East to Vicinity of Lake Bradford Road on the West, includes an outstanding overview of the history and development of this area. The following text summarizes some of the major findings.
Early surveys of Tallahassee reflect that the Gaines Street Corridor vicinity once featured “dense forests, clear lakes and springs,” a description that would no doubt surprise many residents today. While it is likely that the area was once inhabited by Native Americans, there has been little archaeological work undertaken to discover the extent of habitation. However, once Tallahassee was selected as the Territorial Capital of Florida, more is known about this area.
In 1823, Governor DuVal sent commissioners from St. Augustine and Pensacola to select a middle site for the Territory’s new capital city. Resources in the eastern end of the Gaines Street Corridor, including the waterfall known as the Cascade and a stream, helped convince them that this land was suitable for the new capital city. In April of the following year, the town’s first settlers camped in or near the Gaines Street Corridor, somewhere between Adams and Calhoun Streets and Gaines Street and the railroad.
In November of that 1825, public land surveyors established the base meridian and parallel for the state; a marker at the juncture of today’s Meridian and Bloxham Streets commemorates this spot. In December, the Legislative Council named and incorporated Tallahassee. The fledgling city, as delineated in the Original Town Plan, was surrounded by a 200-foot wide buffer, according to tradition to help protect Tallahassee from attack by Native Americans. Today’s Gaines Street Corridor includes a portion of the original city, and remnants of the 200-foot buffer can be found in Doug Burnette and Boulevard Parks which intersect Gaines Street at Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The city boundaries expanded in 1827, then contracted slightly in 1840 to encompass one square mile. These 1840 boundaries remained intact until further expansion in 1903. During much of the nineteenth century, therefore, over half of the Gaines Street Corridor was within the city limits. Early on, much of the land in the corridor was purchased as speculative investment by such individuals as Richard Keith Call, who later became Territorial Governor.
Call was instrumental in the creation of the Tallahassee Railroad Company, which linked the capital to the port at St. Marks on the Gulf of Mexico. Its line entered Tallahassee from the west, following a similar path to that of today’s CSX line. While the railroad underwent fluctuations in its operation and prosperity over the next century, it had a dominant impact on the character and development of the Gaines Street Corridor. By the early years of the 20th century, numerous rail lines crisscrossed the Corridor, and many industries established plants and warehouses to take advantage of the proximity to the railroad.
The Gaines Street Corridor developed from east to west, with residential areas creeping westward as Tallahassee grew in population. By the mid 1900s, the foundation for the corridor’s character was established. In the eastern portion, predominantly white residential areas were gradually replaced with state office buildings. West of Adams Street, a mixture of lower income white and black residential pockets intermingled with a growing number of industrial uses.
A lyrical description of the Cascades Park area was printed in the September 24, 1825 Pensacola Gazette:
a gentle rise upon the summit of a bold commanding eminence at whose eastern and southern base a beautiful rivulet, meandered its course through a rich Hammock; . . . our party . . . pitched their tent about midway of the southern slope, which might well be taken for the land of the Fairies; to the southward and westward, the county opened to view like a magnificent park, gently undulated and studded with beautiful basons [sic] of liquid water, at their feet a chrystal [sic] fountain gushing from the declivity of the hill; to the eastward the view was more confined by the thick foliage of the undergrowth which served to screen the view though not the sound, of a beautiful cascade, which was formed by the rivulet above described falling over a ledge of rocks into a deep glen, which forms almost a circle of about seventy yards in diameter and disappears at the bottom of the same ledge of rocks, very near to the cascade.
In the southeastern corner of the 1825 Old Town Plan (and situated within the Gaines Street Corridor) was the Public Water Lot. By 1840, a 25-acre “City Reserve” was established adjacent to this lot, to protect the Cascade and other water sources. Today much of this reserve remains in the form of Cascades Park, and the area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. While the park remains, the Cascade does not.
Early on, the City leased parts of the Reserve out, including a parcel for a tanning yard. By the late 1800s, uses in the reserve included the Tallahassee Ice Company, the Leon Lumber Company, and a planing mill that would operate under varied ownership until 1938. Local government also began turning to the lands of Cascades Park and adjacent areas for a variety of public services. In 1887, the City granted the private Tallahassee Gas and Electric Company a 99-year lease for 3 acres of land in the City Reserve, next to the ice plant. The following year, the County built a new jail on the old Public Water Lot, adjacent to the City Reserve. A new jail was constructed on that site in 1936; today it is known as the Firestone Building (8Le500) and houses offices of the Florida Department of State. In 1890, the Tallahassee Waterworks moved to the corner of Gaines and Gadsden Streets and constructed a facility.
By the early 1900s, the City took over operations of gas, electric and water services, and began construction on a municipal sewerage system. The city electric plant burned in 1919, and was replaced by a new gas plant and power and light plant. Other facilities, including the city incinerator, stable, blacksmith shop, and carpenter shop were located in this vicinity at various times.
By the end of the 1800s, the need for more sophisticated sewerage management had become apparent. Many early residents threw their trash in the St. Augustine Branch (today this includes Franklin Boulevard’s drainage ditch which then runs through Cascades Park and then parallels the railroad tracks). An 1885 visitor commented on how the rain carried “filth from the streets and gutters” into a clear stream, which then carried the sewerage into a sink south of town. By 1909, the city and county had agreed to split the cost of removing grass and weeds from the St. Augustine Branch to deal with these problems. By the 1920s, the city began replacing wide ditches with lined storm sewers, including most of the bed of the St. Augustine Branch along Franklin Boulevard and paralleling today’s Canal Street.
Exacerbating the problems was the practice of using the Cascade as a trash dump. The St. Augustine Branch bore waste to the area, and some residents threw their trash directly into the Cascade. Making matters worse, when the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad established its line in the 1850s, it went right over the streamlet that fed the cascade. By the 1870s, the railroad was dumping old cross ties and other debris to stabilize its roadbed. This backed up the stream, creating a pond and resulting in the disappearance of the Cascade by the 1880s. The new pond was used as a community swimming hole, but gradually became a nuisance to residents in the area. With efforts to eradicate mosquitoes in full force by the 1920s, the new City Engineer began filling the pond with trash. This project was completed by about 1953.
The Railroad and Related Industrial Development
One event that has permanently shaped the character of the area was the coming of the railroad. The Gaines Street Corridor was home to the Tallahassee Railroad Company. Established in 1834 and led by Richard Keith Call (also a major landholder in the area) this company oversaw the construction of the territory’s first railroad, which linked Tallahassee to the gulf port at St. Marks. It received right-of-way for the railroad from the US Congress in 1835, and the line opened late in 1837. Initially, mules hauled cotton along the wooden rails topped with iron strips. When a later steam engine’s boiler exploded, the company returned to mules and horses. However, despite the primitive equipment, the company shipped between 30,000 and 40,000 bales of cotton a year to St. Marks.
This rail line came into the Gaines Street Corridor from the west, following closely the alignment of today’s tracks. The depot is believed to have stood on the west side of Railroad Avenue, just north of the existing Amtrak Station. At some point, the company also build machine repair and construction shops in the same vicinity.
The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad purchased the Tallahassee Railroad Company in 1855, rebuilt the rails, and began operating steam engines on the line a year later. By this time, there were numerous references to industrial uses in the area, particularly in the Gay Street vicinity. Call operated a steam saw and grist mill, and there were also accounts of the Tallahassee Sash and Blind Company, Fulton Foundry, which made steam engines and sugar mills, and a host of other industrial uses. The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad opened a line to Lake City in 1860, and between 1858 and 1867 (the date is in dispute–some even say the 1880s) constructed a new depot which today serves as the Amtrak Station at 918 Railroad Avenue. This structure has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
At the close of the Civil War in 1865, federal troops arrived in Tallahassee (the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi to not be captured during the war), took over operation of the railroad, and occupied the city for four years. According to the 1991 Archaeological Consultants, Inc. report, some of the troops (which at times numbered as high as 715) may have camped in the area bounded by Adams Street, the depot on today’s Railroad Avenue, Gaines Street and the railroad tracks, a portion of which is today’s All Saints Neighborhood. Barbara Mattick, Historic Preservation Supervisor with the Florida Department of State, believes the Gaines Street Corridor may retain important archaeological evidence of this encampment.
The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad opened a line from Tallahassee to Quincy in 1863, but the whole line, including the Tallahassee Railroad Company, was sold at auction in 1869 to the Jacksonville, Pensacola and Mobile Railroad. New businesses that came into being during this period included an “Eating House” at the depot, a lumber yard, a cotton storage warehouse, a steam gristmill, and a brick yard (the site of which would become the Stearns-Mosley Neighborhood). Several residential subdivisions were also platted.
In the 1880s, the railroad serving Tallahassee underwent changes in ownership, while business in the area underwent a boom. New mills, warehouses, and lumber yards were developed in the area. During the same period, several residential subdivisions were established, some to house the workers at the railroads and related businesses. By the late 1890s, the system became part of the new Seaboard Air Line Railway. Other companies also established lines in Tallahassee, including the Carrabelle, Tallahassee, and Georgia Railroad and the Georgia Pine Railroad (later the Georgia, Florida and Alabama Railroad). In 1905, Atlanta contractors J.H. McKenzie and Sons constructed a new Seaboard passenger depot on the east side of Railroad Avenue. As a result, by the turn of the century, the Gaines Street Corridor was home to numerous railroad tracks and facilities, including some north of Gaines Street.
Additionally, the Tallahassee Street Railway Company began traversing the area in the 1890s, including lines on South Duval, Gaines, and Railroad Avenues. Horses and mules drew cars over rails from the depot to the northern part of the city. This business was fairly short-lived, closing operations in the early 1900s.
New industrial facilities opened and expanded in the early part of the 1900s, including the Tallahassee Iron Works (later the Collins Iron Works), the Tallahassee Lumber Company (later Cochran Brothers Barrel and Stave Factory, sometimes known as the Tallahassee Manufacturing Company), Capital Stone Company, the Tallahassee Wagon Works (later Florida Hickory Wagon Company and Upchurch Wagon), and a series of businesses on Depot Street (now Railroad Avenue).
Doug Burnette and Gaines Street Parks
The Legislative Council incorporated Tallahassee on December 9, 1825 with boundaries that included a 200-foot wide buffer zone around the city. Doug Burnette and Gaines Street Parks on Martin Luther King Boulevard are two remnants of that buffer. The Park Avenue chain of seven parks are likewise part of that original buffer. As such, Doug Burnette and Gaines Street Parks are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places because of their importance in the original planning of Tallahassee.
It is probable that these parks remained unimproved dirt clearings throughout the eighteen hundreds. But around the turn of the twentieth century, Tallahassee’s civic leaders became concerned with the appearance of the community. In 1891 the Ladies’ Town Improvement Society was created, which undertook a variety of projects, including turning Park Avenue into a chain of parks. In 1903, a park was established at the south end of Boulevard Street (presumably today’s Gaines Street Park, sometimes referred to as Boulevard Park), and in 1912, the oak tree at the south end of that park was planted by the Tallahassee Women’s Club in memory of Governor William Bloxham (Weekly Floridian, Jan 1, 1904; Weekly True Democrat Jan 31, 1908, p. 8, col. 1; Feb 26, 1912). In the 1930s, the park became known as Gaines Street Park, and the city approved funds for some basic landscaping.
In 1922, the City Commission created the City Park Board, and one of its first projects was to install tennis courts for white families on the park immediately north of Gaines Street. That same year, the city established the double road system alongside the park. The City received around $7000 of WPA funds in 1938, to construct a playground for small children. Named Doug Burnette Park in memory of a member of the original Park Board, the park included fountains, swings and other equipment. A recreation center was then built, and the park continued as part of the city’s recreation program into the 1960s. By this time, many of the area residences had been torn down, and most remaining area residents were black. The City contemplated designating the park a “negro” recreation center, but due to racial integration did not make that move. Due to vandalism, the restroom and recreational facilities were closed down and eventually taken down. Today, all that remains is the entrance arch boasting the name “Doug Burnette Park.”
The Early Twentieth Century
In the early twentieth century numerous new businesses sprung up in the corridor. These included a “Chero-Cola” plant on Gaines Street, the Texas Oil Company, and a new sawmill, a manufacturing plant for silk and cotton factory equipment, a barrel factory, the New Way Laundry, Consolidated Cleaners, Sinclair Refining Company, as well as some neighborhood groceries and other businesses. By the 1920s, “filling stations” were beginning to appear in the corridor. By 1925, passenger rail service was flourishing, with an average of 75 people a day boarding a train in Tallahassee, and 110 freight cars terminating in Tallahassee every month.
The City decided to begin paving streets, starting with the route from the railroad depot to the Capitol. Work on Gaines Street began in 1912, and additional stretches were paved intermittently over the years. The area became increasingly industrial in nature. This more intensive industrial development began to pose problems for the City, which required a consent petition to be circulated among area residents. In 1925, the City voted to establish “business sections” in the vicinity of the train depots to allow business development without resident consent. The 1946 Taylor Plan recommended that much of the western part of the area be zoned industrial and commercial, reinforcing the character that had begun to evolve in earlier years. In the eastern portion of the Gaines Street Corridor, the Taylor Plan advocated for construction of a series of state office buildings. When ultimately constructed, this resulted in the demolition of numerous residences in the area.
Historic Preservation Tool Box
National Register of Historic Places–The National Register of Historic Places is an officially listing of historically significant sites and properties throughout the country. It is maintained by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior, and includes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that have been identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture. These sites and properties reflect the prehistoric occupation and historical development of our nation, state, and local communities.
Basically, National Register listing provides official recognition of the historic significance of a building or site. There are also federal tax incentives for the rehabilitation of income producing buildings, and historic properties are offered limited protection from federal and state actions that could damage or destroy the resource. It is important to note, however, that the National Register does not offer any protection from private actions. A property owner may at any time alter or demolish a building listed in the National Register. It is local designation that may limit private changes to historic properties.
Federal Investment Tax Credits–Since the mid-1970s, the federal government has offered Investment Tax Credits for the certified rehabilitation of historic buildings. Current provisions established under the Tax Reform Act of 1986 permit owners and some lessees of historic buildings to take a 20 percent income tax credit on the cost of rehabilitating such buildings for industrial, commercial, or rental rehabilitation purposes. The rehabilitation must take place in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. A historic building is one that is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, or is certified as contributing to a National Register Historic District.
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation–The United States Department of the Interior has established ten basic Standards for Rehabilitation. These Standards must be complied with if a rehabilitation project is to be eligible to receive the Federal Investment Tax Credits. These are also the preservation standards that have been adopted by the City of Tallahassee for historic properties participating in the Tallahassee Historic Preservation Grant and Loan program. These Standards allow buildings to be changed to meet contemporary needs, while ensuring that those features that make the buildings historically and architecturally distinctive are preserved. These Standards can provide useful guidance for any preservation project. They are included at the end of this section.
Florida Master Site File–This file serves as a clearinghouse for information on historic resources around the state. It is administered by the Division of Historical Resources of the Florida Department of State. Listing in the Florida Master Site File does not necessarily imply that the resource is significant, nor does it include all historic resources in a community. It serves as a repository of information on some of the known sites around the state, and can be used as a tool in preservation planning.
Florida Department of State Historic Preservation Grants-in-Aid–The Florida Department of State has made funds available to protect significant archaeological sites, survey historic resources, restore historic buildings, develop local historic preservation plans, develop educational programs, promote tourism to historic areas and undertake other projects that promote the preservation of Florida’s rich heritage. These grants are available to governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations. The program includes matching grants for survey, planning, education and rehabilitation projects under $50,000 in cost, and Special Category non-matching grants for rehabilitation projects in excess of $50,000. This study has been partially funded by a matching grant through this state program.
Local Designation–For properties within the City of Tallahassee’s Historic Preservation Overlay (HPO) Zones, there are a number of available incentives. First, the City waives permit fees, development review fees, annual fees, and other rehabilitation-related fees for HPO properties on the Local Register of Historic Places that are privately owned (non-governmental). Specific waived fees include building and fire permit and review fees, electrical permits, plumbing permits, mechanical permits, gas permits, roofing permits, re-inspection fees, landscape fee, stormwater permit fee, variance fee, tree removal fee and rezoning fees. Additionally private owners of HPO properties are eligible to apply for funding from the City of Tallahassee Historic Property Grant and Loan Program.
Properties within a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone are subject to review of exterior alterations for projects that require a building permit. Review is conducted by the Tallahassee-Leon County Architectural Review Board, which is administered by the Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation. The Tallahassee Trust also oversees listing properties in the Local Register of Historic Places, which is subject to confirmation by the Tallahassee City Commission.
City of Tallahassee Historic Property Grant and Revolving Loan Program–Private owners of historic properties listed in the Local Register of Historic Places and within an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone are eligible to apply for preservation grants and loans from the City of Tallahassee. Approximately $100,000 is available in the pool of funds, and the Historic Property Grant and Revolving Loan Finance Committee review the applications. The Committee has the authority to approve funding for projects in amounts up to and including $10,000. Projects in excess of $10,000 are evaluated by the Committee, and their recommendations are then forwarded to the City Commission for approval or denial. Funded projects must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Tallahassee-Leon County Architectural Review Board or, for minor projects, a Certificate of Minor Review from ARB staff. Funding is awarded for stabilization for the purpose of restoration and rehabilitation, structural repair, facade restoration and rehabilitation, compliance improvements for fire/building/commercial/handicap and other code and health/safety requirements, and other construction activity that will result in a “total project” restoration/rehabilitation of the building. Preference is given first to residential use, second to cultural, retail and restaurant use, and third to other uses. This program is administered through the City of Tallahassee’s Downtown Development Office.
Compatible Infill Development–Sensitive infill development in historic areas can contribute to the character and vitality of the area, if undertaken appropriately. In general, infill should be comparable in terms of building height, mass, scale, materials, orientation, setback and lot coverage to the historic resources in the area.
Sensitive Relocation of Historic Properties–To summarize the National Register criteria considerations for relocating historic buildings, such buildings “must retain enough historic features to convey its architectural values and retain integrity of design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.” Furthermore, “moved properties must still have an orientation, setting, and general environment that are comparable to those of the historic location and that are compatible with the property’s significance.” Before any relocation is contemplated, the mover should consult the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Florida Department of State, to evaluate the appropriateness of the move and the correct manner in which to undertake it. Additionally, the National Park Service has a National Register Bulletin, “Contribution of Moved Buildings to Historic Districts; Tax Treatments for Moved Buildings; and Use of Nomination Documentation in the Part I Certification Process.”
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation
1. Property shall be used for its historic purpose, or be placed in a new use that requires minimal changes to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alterations of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings shall not be undertaken.
4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize an historic property shall be preserved.
6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. When the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the most gentle means possible.
8. Significant archaeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the historic property and its environment.
10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.