The year is 1703 and Mission San Luis is a thriving Apalachee Indian Village and the western capital of Spanish Florida. A central plaza is surrounded by the Apalachee Council House, Indian dwellings, Spanish village, a blacksmith, a Catholic Church, and a Friary. Overlooking the central plaza is the protective log walls of the fort complex.
Now, more than 300 years in the future, the site has been re-created on the historical site located smack in the middle of Florida’s bustling capital, Tallahassee. Live reenactments, hands-on period specific activities, and historically accurate architecture fill the oak lined site. On this beautiful Saturday afternoon I took the boys to experience life the way it once was.
The Council House
The Council House acted as the central meeting space for the Apalachee Indians. It severed more than 1500 people and was a place of ceremony, lodging, and civics.
The Council House is 140 feet in diameter and over 5 stories tall. Standing in the center, looking up into the central clerestory, the sun glaring through, and the wind rustling through the thatched walls is an experience that will transport you to far away place and time.
The Spanish Village
Coming up to the Spanish Village we could smell the wood burning fire. There a group of women dressed in historical garb were cooking and making candles from locally harvested bees wax.
The small, two room Spanish cottages or casitas were “made of wattle-and-daub or wood planking with palm-thatched roofs”.
The Blacksmith Shop was one of our favorite stops on the tour. Santiago, the 200 year old Blacksmith, enlisted Liam’s help in the shop. Liam was in charge of running the Bellows. Pushing and pulling the bellows to help flame the fire. It was tough work, this was the real thing, and there were no gimmicks!
Liam and Santiago forged a metal nail using methods that were period specific. This experience was so unique and such a wonderful learning experience for Liam. After the 15 minute forging lesson Liam was given the priceless souvenir.
The Spanish Fort
Ok, I lied before, my personal favorite part was the archery practice at the Spanish Fort. It was an adults only thing and you better believe that I participated! The fort structure itself was very impressive. The overall size and structure was true to size, adding to the realism of the experience.
The Church and the Friary
At this point in the day we were inching closer to lunchtime. In hopes of making it out of the 1700’s without a hangry meltdown, we went quickly though the Church and Friary. Both buildings deserve to be revisited.
The Scavenger Hunt
The entire day was perfectly wrapped up with an interactive Scavenger Hunt that the whole family enjoyed. The Scavenger Hunt led us to artifacts that were in the museum. We were able to look closely at the artifacts and to read more about their significance. Even Nolan enjoyed some hands on interaction.