Last month I attended the grand opening of the new visitor center at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. There have been a lot of changes and additions over the years. Now it is off of Tennessee Street, so it is easier to find. The first time I visited a few years ago, it was so well hidden that I gave up trying to find it!
Apparently the locals always knew this was the site of the mission and the village. (Probably some local eastern Creek folks among them.) It was confirmed in the 1980s when the state acquired the property and started archaeology excavations.
Apalachee was one of the main native settlements. I think it will eventually be discovered that it was part of a large Apalachee-Apalachicola confederacy in this area.
The Spanish established this settlement as their main western headquarters in 1656, and it lasted until 1704 when Governor Moore from the Carolinas came down and destroyed the Apalachee towns in Spanish Florida. From 1607 to 1704 there was a strong Spanish influence in this area, and the local town chief decided that the Spanish would make powerful allies. It is interesting to note from the exhibits in the visitor center, that the cultural influence was more on the Spanish than the Apalachee who greatly outnumbered the Spaniards. This shows that the Apalachee allowed the Spanish here and traded with them, but did not let it dominate their culture. I think this important to note, as who really influenced whom.
Here is the newly reconstructed Spanish fort. For some reason, I wasn't much impressed. Maybe because it is made out of wood instead of the stone forts we are familiar with around St. Augustine.
One thing I did like, was that it was stocked with period furnishings.
Over on the other end of the park, they had another waddle and daub thatched roof house with period furnishings inside, like this four-post canopy bed.
Outside they had a historical interpreter cooking with a table full of period-correct foods.
One of the most impressive things is the council hut, which can hold a couple thousand people.
Inside is rows of benches or beds. They had to make the floor concrete due to the moisture warping the main posts. If this was a real active village, there would be a fire burning all the time to keep the moisture down.
Here is the back side of the new visitor center. Inside is all marble floors and brass rails with meeting rooms, offices, and a banquet hall. Pretty impressive.
The mission church is very impressive, and has the beautiful church furnishings inside, with a clay floor. It was packed with people for the service, so I was not able to get any photos of the inside for this trip.
When I was in the visitor center, they had a lot of church artifacts from Mexico for a temporary display. One visitor remarked, "But this is all from Mexico." Not realizing that it was the same period that Mission San Luis was active, and these are comparable artifacts to what would have been here at San Luis.
Next to the church is the friar's quarters. This is another nice reconstructed house with all the period furnishings. I noticed that outside the shrubs with berries were youpon holly, the main ingredient of black (white) drink. Even when the Spanish took over, the Natives stuck to their old traditions and still made the drink.
And here is the friar's house. It has several rooms and a kitchen room in the back. I noticed when I walked in the front door, they had a Christmas wreath hanging from the ceiling, with more youpon holly mixed in.
I visited here last month. A few weeks late on my write-up, but I hope you enjoyed the tour.