The city of Tallahassee Florida is filled with many different attractions which draw in crowds in the thousands every month. But the locations that aren’t visited or talked about much and are still interesting are their abandoned places. Sites like the Arthur Dozier School For Boys and Dr. Coles’s House even though abandoned still contain some fascinating history.
Urban explorers have for years ventured into these quiet and forgotten places to experience and document them before they’re completely gone. Below is a list of abandoned places in Tallahassee that are slowly being reclaimed by nature, some of them are just downright creepy, but nonetheless would make for an interesting exploration trip.
Best Abandoned Places In Tallahassee
Arthur G. Dozier School For Boys
Originally named the Florida State Reform School for troubled young boys, the school ended its 111-year history with a reputation of horror. The school began operations on January 1, 1900, and 14 years later its name would be changed in honor of a former superintendent of the school. In its initial years, the school successfully ran and reformed several students, after the superintendent retired things took a dramatic turn.
In a few short years, the school garnered a reputation for abuse, beatings, sexual assault, torture, and even murder of students by staff. An unannounced inspection by the state of Florida found that students were commonly kept in leg irons for hours to prevent them from moving around. Some were placed in hot non-insulated rooms and kept for hours there.
A fire broke out in one of the dormitories of the school killing six students and two employees, all of who were buried behind the campus in unmarked graves. A separate inspection by the state governor Claude Kirk found severe overcrowding issues and poor conditions overall. After decades of poor reputation, the school failed in state inspection in 2008 and was closed down the following year.
Since then the school has been left abandoned and is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Fearless explorers who have ventured into the school have reported hearing disembodied sounds and seeing things move seemingly by themselves. It is considered one of the creepiest abandoned places in Tallahassee.
The Riverside Motel
If you dig the apocalypse-type vibe and scenery you’re going to love the Riverside Motel. The motel itself is made up of about a dozen rooms located in two buildings that are in an L-shape design. Furniture, beds, TVs, curtains, and other items commonly found in motels in the 80s’ are surprisingly still present in many rooms. It’s as if the owners just up and left in a hurry without taking anything.
It’s clear that the motel is far away from trafficked areas as much of the building is not badly vandalized as abandoned places usually are. Not much information is known about why the motel closed down. Much of the destruction to the building has been done not by edgy teenagers but by mother nature herself.
The structure of the building is relatively sound except for some areas of the site where time and the elements have done a number on them. Parts of the building are nearly covered in overgrown grass and moss. Close to the motel is also a liquor shop named St. Mary’s Liquor Store and a souvenir shop with nothing left inside.
Just as no one knows why the motel shut down and left abandoned, the reasons why the liquor and souvenir shops were left to rot are equally mysterious. The most likely reasons are probably a combination of financial issues and unfortunate times.
The Verdura Plantation mansion was built, owned, and operated by Benjamin Chaires, who was Florida’s first millionaire in the early 1800s. The plantation was thought to contain slave quarters, a cemetery, a cotton gin, and other outbuildings on site.
When Mr. Chaires died in 1838, his youngest son Charles took ownership of the plantation and operated the place alongside his wife. Accusations of his wife having an affair with his nephew forced Charles to file for divorce and brought on lawsuits to both of them. As the court battles waged on, both men ran into each other on the street and got into an argument which ended in a shootout.
Both were arrested but charges were eventually dropped. Charles passed away a few short years after. The plantation was passed on to creditors but a fire destroyed most of the property in the 1880s. It left nothing but ruins, a pile of bricks, and some columns which were part of the mansion.
Dr. Cole’s House
A house with a history of a doctor who was spearheading the efforts to reduce deaths by yellow fever during an epidemic. Dr. Alfred Cole was a homeopathic doctor who was regarded as a prominent member of his community. It is unknown if he built his home but he lived in it during the late stages of his life.
He was the state-appointed surgeon for the Tampa and Jacksonville railroad. He traveled routinely out of the city to perform his duties often leaving his home empty for weeks. It is known that he also allowed friends and family to stay in his home while he was away. It was during one of these stays that an argument got out of control and a possible murder took place at the home.
After Dr. Cole’s death, the house was sold in 1894 to a known friend. The new owner lived in the home until his passing, leaving the house to his niece and sister who both lived there and were found dead inside in 1978. Today the home sits quiet and empty, slowly falling apart to time.
Big Bend Jai Alai Arena
The Jai-Alai arena located in Chattahoochee is one of nine areas where the Jai-Alai sport was played in the late 1980s. The sport was one of the few where gambling was allowed thus bringing in lots of attention and money. The game consists of a wicker sling-like device known as a Cesta being used to bounce a hardball off a wall and back towards the players.
The sport lost popularity in the 90s due to players boycotting the sport because of injuries and problems with the game officials. As a result, fewer and fewer people attended events to a point where it was not financially smart to continue operations.
After the death of the owner of the arenas, his estate was disputed in court leaving the arenas closed down for years. The Big Bend facility was ultimately shut down in the late 90s and has been sitting abandoned for the past 30 years. Attempts to renovate the arena and turn it into a greyhound racing track were attempted but were never put in place.
Find More Abandoned Places In Tallahassee
If you live in Tallahassee or are visiting soon and are looking for abandoned places to explore, you don’t have to do much work to find them. Abandoned buildings can be found in just about every neighborhood in the city. Some places are hidden in plain sight while others are covered in overgrown trees and grass.
The places featured in this article are a small example of the many abandoned places in Tallahassee you can find today. I’ve written a guide where I explain the different ways I go about finding places to explore. Be sure to check it out.