03 July 2007

Howdy, former sort-of neighbor

In preparation for celebrating America’s birthday, I made a trip to one of my favorite institutions—the Public Library. I needed a suitably vacation-y book to read by the ocean, so off to the library I went. Ours is a good one, with lots of space and places to sit, plenty of terminals to access the card catalog (I still miss those little drawers full of actual cards though), and a great selection of books, books on tape/CD, CDs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, and more.

But instead of talking about all that good stuff that is inside the library, let's talk about what’s on the outside. Specifically, the name on the outside.The LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library. On this day after Scooter Libby goes scooting right past jail on a presidential commutation, I thought it might be nice to take a look a statesman. While I wasn’t alive during his time as Governor, Collins seems by all accounts to have provided steady and compassionate leadership during a turbulent time and to have had a true dedication to public service. Check out his accomplishments.This site also enabled me to discover a list of the 50 Most Important Floridians of the 20th Century. Check out the bios on some of those folks, Florida has some impressive peeps. Plus a “top however many of whatever” list is always fun.

Also, I used to live right next door to The Grove, the Collins' family home. On the other side of their house is the Florida Governor's Mansion. A seemingly lovely 'hood. I'm sure when the Collins' first moved in, it was a picturesque residential neighborhood. But it is right downtown so the city has kind sprung up around them. This doesn't really affect the Governor's pad as it is surrounded by a pretty but substantial fence. And
The Grove occupies several acres (the sprawling grounds actually cover a couple of blocks. The house is bounded by First Avenue on one side and Third Avenue on the other. Needless to say, Second Avenue dead ends into their property line.) The rest of the neighborhood is a bit eclectic. Also located within a one mile radius of these locations: the Florida state capitol building, a tattoo parlor, the Florida Supreme Court, the Greyhound bus station, the northeastern edge of Florida State University, a halfway house, several auto body shops, an historic cemetery where Prince and Princess Murat are buried (he was Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, she was George Washington's great-grandniece), an extremely seedy motel (which is actually called the Prince Murat Motel), and come to think of it...the LeRoy Collins Public Library.

This is the bronze statue in the small park across the street from The Grove and Governor's Mansion. Florida's Finest by W. Stanley "Sandy" Proctor, commissioned by former First Lady Rhea Chiles.


KMS said...

I LOVED getting to see that seedy hotel everytime I came to visit. Too bad your new neighbourhood doesn't cater to that kind of need.

Barn Owl said...

Heck YES! I can get down for some str8 LeRoy lovin's! Collins seems to have been a decent fella. I'm happy to see his name on the library.