A Walk Through History: Trail Concepts to Loop Through Tallahassee Historical Sites

Bob Lotane has looped through the Freedom Trail of Boston dozens of times. The painted path passes through 16 historic sites. 

But unlike the Boston area where he's from, Florida's capital city lacks such a route that sheds light on its rich history, Lotane noticed.

So, the history buff and communications executive, who is running for a city commission seat, conceptualized three different pathways throughout Tallahassee that tourists and residents alike could follow, with no need for a physical tour guide.

"The line also creates discussion," he said. "People are in town and they go, 'Oh, what's that red line?'"

Loop — would range from a mile and a half to three miles, passing through historically significant sites like the Grove Museum, the Korean War Memorial and the Taylor House Museum in Frenchtown.

Each a different color, the trails would connect at some point.

Lotane hopes the trails would also contribute to the city's economic development.

Other organizations around town have started similar ideas.

The Florida Historic Capitol Museum started the Walk Tallahassee tour. Users can download the Florida Stories phone app to follow along on their phones while walking.

"It's not only tourists that need to be educated about the historic sites and institutions," said Tiffany Baker, Capitol Museum director. "It's also the local folks that may not even realize the treasures they have in their own backyard."

Delaitre Hollinger, CEO of the Tallahassee-based National Association for the Preservation of African American History and Cultures, is drafting the Walk Frenchtown tour, which would be available on the same app. The projects are both funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council.

Hollinger hopes the initiative will shed light on the importance of the sites in Frenchtown, contributing to African American history preservation efforts. He referred to the demolition of the original Strong & Jones Funeral Home building and Marie Bisbee House, properties that were bought out.

"Those properties were torn down, but we did fight that valiantly," he said.

"What we're beginning to see is the erasure of the history of the historic Frenchtown community," he said. "And so, I thought to find a way in which we would be able to preserve a piece of that history that's slipping through our fingers. And this app is going to be able to do just that."

Walk Tallahassee launched Dec. 9 on the Florida Stories app, and the Walk Frenchtown tour will launch in the summer, Hollinger said.

Kelsey Lehtomaa