The John Gilmore Riley Center/Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc., also known as the John Gilmore Riley House is a historic home located at 419 East Jefferson Street that stands a symbol for the once thriving African American neighborhood, known as Smokey Hollow, that existed in downtown Tallahassee.
Once home to John G. Riley, a distinguished member of the African American community in Tallahassee who was born a slave and died a millionaire, the Riley House stands as a witness to progress and a symbol for success. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the House is the last physical evidence of a thriving middle-class African American community that once existed in downtown Tallahassee at the turn of the 20th century and is now a museum and educational center with the aim of discovering, presenting, preserving the rich history of African American, Native American and European communities in the region, along with African American landmarks and legacies in the State of Florida.
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Constructed in 1890, the Riley House was once the home of John G. Riley, a distinguished member of the African American community in Tallahassee. Riley was born into slavery in 1857 and worked as the principal of the Lincoln Academy, which was later renamed Lincoln High School, for over 30 years and then went on to become a millionaire. The 126-year old structure is a vernacular, wood-framed house remained in the family until 1970 and today stand as a witness to progress and a symbol of success against all the odds. After being abandoned in 1973, the Riley House was restored to its former glory in 1981, purchased by the John G. Riley Foundation, Inc. and established as a museum in December 1995.
The mission of the John Gilmore Riley Center/Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc. is to discover, present, and preserve the rich history of African American, Native American and European communities in the region, along with African American landmarks and legacies in the State of Florida
The John Gilmore Riley Center/Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc. offers a variety of educational and community outreach programs and initiatives for all ages throughout the year, including Riley’s Kids Afterschool Program, Riley In-school Heritage Lessons, the Blended Lives 4-day Cultural Exchange Program, and the Power-Up Summer Camp Program.
The John Gilmore Riley Center/Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc. is located at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets in downtown Tallahassee. The museum and grounds are open to the public Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Guided tours of the Museum customized to the needs, interests, and ages of individuals and groups, and offer the chance to explore and experience the rich cultural heritage of African Americans in the south during the Reconstruction era. Exclusive guided tours include Landmarks and Legacies: A Black Heritage Tour of Tallahassee, which features untold stories of struggle and triumph that describe significant aspects of Florida’s cultural heritage and visits a range of historical sites, including The Riley House Museum, the Union Bank Building, the Old Capitol Building, the Historic Frenchtown Community, the Old Lincoln High School, the Florida A&M University and the Knott House Museum.
Other Local Attractions
Tallahassee offers a variety of attractions and activities for the whole family from arts and culture to outdoor recreation and sports. The Challenger Learning Center IMAX Theatre and Planetarium are located at the Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee that features a futuristic Space Mission Simulator and cutting-edge space station laboratory, a huge 50-foot dome Planetarium and the area’s largest IMAX® 3D Theatre. Forming part of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education international network, the 32,000-square-foot Challenger Learning Center offers visitors the opportunity to learn about and explore the wild world of science and technology.
Surrounded by more than 50 acres of spectacular animal and plant life, the Tallahassee Museum is a privately funded wildlife park and museum in the Big Bend that has been established to educate the public about the wildlife of the North Florida region. Serving as an iconic landmark for more than half a century, the Tallahassee Museum is ranked one of Florida’s top museums, showcasing the wonders of Florida’s native wildlife, nature trails and native gardens in a variety of living exhibits. The Museum aims to inspire, encourage and educate visitors about North Florida’s natural environment, the fauna and flora that inhabit it and the importance of caring for the rich history and diverse cultural communities that surround it.
419 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301, Phone: 850-681-7881