Monticello Rotary Raffle Adventure

Finding our way through the braided channels

Tom Harmon guiding Paddle on WacissaMy friend Tom Harmon invited me to be his guest at a Rotary meeting. Well–knowing the food would be prepared by Mary Frances Dawdry, I said yes immediately because EVERYTHING she prepares is delicious. Besides that, the company at a Rotary meeting is always excellent and they invariably offer interesting speakers.

Another tradition at the Monticello Rotary meetings is a drawing. As their guest, I was asked to draw out a number. I scrambled the tickets around a little and grabbed one.  I didn’t have on my glasses (vanity) so I asked Tom to read out the numbers. He did and then checked my ticket for me and the numbers matched!

I won the prize! It was a canoe trip with Tom and Jeff Wilcox from the headwaters of the Wacissa to Goose Pasture.

The Wacissa is full of birds

This beautiful trip filled in a section of the Jefferson County Rivers I had never seen. I enjoyed the paddle to Blue Spring several times. Ed Green took me through the Slave Canal connecting to the Aucilla. David Ward treated me to a paddle on the north end of the Aucilla when it was in flood, entering at Snead’s Smokehouse landing.

With a larger group, David paddled so I could photograph a segment of the Aucilla from Lamont south to the site of a lost town called Cash Money. Back in 2010, Charlie Ward and Jack Carswell gave me a wonderful photographic tour of the lower Aucilla, Apalachee Bay and the Pinhook, entering the River at Mandalay in Taylor County. Someday I hope to photograph the section of the Aucilla referred to as the “Races.”

Another time I hiked the underground part of the Aucilla called the Aucilla Sinks. What are called “Sinks” are small and large windows into the underground river forming beautiful small ponds and lakes.  I look forward to seeing the “Races” and completing my photographic tour of the rivers.

Finding our way through the braided channels

Monticello–Seat of Jefferson County Florida

Monticello: Seat of Jefferson County Florida

By Anne Haw Holt

Beginning around 1819 as an Indian Trading Post called Robison’s Corners, Monticello and Jefferson County were officially established in 1827, eighteen years before Florida became a state. The town and the surrounding county were settled by families from Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Prince Murat, Napoleon’s nephew was one of our early settlers. James Gadsden, Richard Call and others became Florida leaders. Many of those early families’ descendants still live here.

Filled with beautiful, well-kept antebellum and Victorian homes, Monticello boasts several exceptionally handsome public buildings as well as three structures designed by Atlanta Architect Joseph Neel Reid. Monticello’s quiet streets are beautifully shaded by pecan and magnolia trees and great live oaks hung with Spanish moss. Yards are green and filled with azaleas, magnificent heirloom camellias and other flowering shrubs.

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

Located in north-central Jefferson County at the intersection of the Georgia-Florida Parkway (Rt. 19) and the Old Spanish Trail (Rt. 90) Monticello is conveniently located a short twenty-five minutes east of Tallahassee, Florida’s capital and twenty-two miles south of Thomasville, Georgia. Known as Florida’s “Keystone County” Jefferson is the only Florida county that reaches from the Georgia line south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The beautiful, rolling land around Monticello is green with farms, great hunting plantations and protected conservation land, bordered by the strange, ancient, occasionally disappearing Aucilla River on the east and drained in the south by the brilliant, spring-fed Wacissa River. A good part of the magnificent St. Marks Wildlife Refuge at Newport, Florida (on Route 98) lies in Jefferson County.

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Canoeing the Aucilla with friends

Bed & Breakfast Directory

The John Denham House– The Magnificent Mansion

Perhaps the most recognizable of the Bed and Breakfasts, the John Denham house is set apart by the beautiful cuppola that crowns the building. This mansion was built around the 1870’s. Visit their website here for more information.

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The John Denham House

Pat Inmon, Proprietor

555 West Palmer Mill Rd.

Monticello, FL 32344

(850) 997-4568

The Avera-Clarke House– The Southern Belle

Elegant in architecture and atmosphere, the Avera-Clarke house is sure to delight. This Victorian beauty has been lovingly remodeled by Gretchen and Troy Avera. Visit their website here for more information.

Avera-Clarke House, Exterior

French Country Bedroom, Avera-Clarke House Parlor, Avera-Clarke House

The Avera-Clarke House

Gretchen & Troy Avera, Proprietors

580 West Washington Street

Monticello, FL 32344

(850) 997-5007

The Daffodale House– The Paranormal Paradise

The Daffodale House, built in 1897, is said to be incredibly haunted, much to the delight of ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. Flowers bloom in the estate’s garden and the rooms are large and tastefully decorated. Visit their website here for more information.

Exterior, Daffodale House  Interior, Daffodale House

The Daffodale House

Cathy & Scott Ebberbach, Proprietors

620 West Washington Street

Monticello, FL 32344

(850) 997-1111

The Cottage– The Designer’s Dream

The Cottage has a remarkable rating of 4.6-4.8 stars on all major travel websites. Themed rooms are the glory of this sprawling and beautiful establishment, exceeded only by its gardens, which are the most lavish of all the area Bed and Breakfasts’. No website is currently available.

Entrance Cottage B & B

Venetian Gardens Romeo & Juliet Room

The Cottage

Martha & Jean Michel, Proprietors

295 West Palmer Mill Road

Monticello, FL 32344

1 (866) 342-3541

 

Monticello Stage Company Offers “Dearly Departed”

Dearly Departed Poster

The Play

Dearly Departed is a play that follows the antics of a dysfunctional Southern family following the death of their patriarch. When patriarch Bud passes, all sorts of family come out of the woodwork to make his funeral special. What ensues is a comedy of hilarious proportions with characters to match.

The women prepare to serve "dinner" at the viewing in Dearly Beloved. Dinner, unfortunately, involves questionable-looking corn dogs.

The women prepare to serve “supper” at the Daddy-Bud’s viewing in Dearly Beloved. Supper, unfortunately, involves questionable-looking corn dogs.

Monticello Stage Company member, Jan Williams reports that the actors are all doing an excellent job on this production. They have been rehearsing for several months, though “fortunately, there has been a lot going on at the Opera House.”

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“Unfortunately,” Williams continues, “that has not given us very much time to practice on set. We have very great actors—some of them are Stage Company veterans and some are new to us—and they are working well with whatever they’re given.” From adaptable, larger-than-life actors, believable and hilarious characters are born: this play is sure to be a must see.

She also praises the writers, David Botrell and Jesse Jones, for capturing the stereotype of Southern families. “If you’ve been in the South for any length of time or have met a Southern family, you’ll recognize the characters,” Williams laughs.

The Food

Catering is provided by local restaurant gem, Carrie Ann & Company.

Carrie Ann & Co.

The night’s meal will include Caesar salad, white chicken lasagna with mushrooms and fontina cheese, sautéed vegetables, rolls, and a tasty dessert of sour cream pound cake topped with whipped cream.

Carrie Ann & Company is a local restaurant with a café-style lunch including fresh salads and sandwiches and a pleasant atmosphere. Their dinners are delicious, hearty fare including local favorites like shrimp and grits, and more elaborate dishes from quiche to ham, herb-stuffed pork loin to crepes and everything in between. They also cater events.

Carrie Ann & Company is in the process of moving to the Mays House, an historic downtown home. The Mays House was built in 1922.

Carrie Ann & Company is in the process of moving to the Mays House, an historic downtown home. The Mays House was built in 1922.

When you visit Monticello, this is a must-visit dining experience. It is convenient, then, that they are catering Dearly Departed so that visitors might taste their delicious cuisine.

The Venue

The Monticello Opera House is nestled into the large brick building commonly known as the Perkins Block. John Perkins, a remarkable entrepreneur of Victorian Jefferson County, built the Perkins block in 1890.

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The building and Perkins’ businesses, which were operated out of the building, flourished for nearly a decade. Downstairs, Perkins sold general goods, sewing machine parts, farm implements, horses, carriages, and more.

Upstairs, the theatre crowned the building.

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This became a regular venue for local and traveling performers. It was popular, acoustically perfect, and the largest theater in the area. Perkins showed particular foresight in building the Perkins block, which thrived with much thanks to the tourists that flocked to the area. Perkins was able to capitalize on their business by providing for their needs.

The Perkins Block is generously sprinkled with Romanesque Revivalist style elements. These Corinthian columns that stand sentry along the front of the building are among these elements, which provided a cosmopolitan feel and showed off Perkins' wealth.

The Perkins Block is generously sprinkled with Romanesque Revivalist style elements. These Corinthian columns that stand sentry along the front of the building are among these elements, which provided a cosmopolitan feel and showed off Perkins’ wealth.

Unfortunately, Perkins could not have foreseen the tragedy that affected Jefferson County at the turn of the century: it was at that time the railroads were rerouted such that they bypassed Jefferson County and especially Monticello. Tourism went from a flood to a trickle, and even winter residents became less pervasive. This downturn was Perkins’ downfall—financially ruined by the large investment he put into the building and the lack of income from the razed tourism industry, Perkins business career was over. Fewer and fewer performers came to the venue and he eventually shut it down.

Since that time, the building has been used as a great number of things, including a movie theater, all with little success. In the 1970s, the dilapidated and abandoned Perkins Block was set to be put to the wrecking ball—and would have, but for a group of concerned citizens and public outcry against such a travesty.

It has since been restored and the Monticello Opera House Inc. was formed as a non-profit organization that facilitated and will continue to ensure the treatment and business of the historical landmark. Various local performing groups use it as a venue—the Monticello Acting and Dance Company, The Monticello Stage Company, and Southern Music Rising name only three of many.

The Night Away

Bed and Breakfasts are tastefully and lovingly decorated by the proprietors of the establishments-- forget boring and impersonal hotels.

Bed and Breakfasts are tastefully and lovingly decorated by the proprietors of the establishments– forget boring and impersonal hotels.

While a night out can be nice, busy parents and professionals need a night away sometimes—let Monticello be that place for you.

Convenient to Tallahassee residents, Monticello offers fine opportunities for food and entertainment and charming Bed and Breakfasts for a romantic night away. The Cottage, the Avera-Clarke House, and the John Denham House are just a few examples of the beautiful accommodations you will find in Monticello.

See our Directory Post of our local Bed and Breakfasts for more information about the luxurious accommodations Jefferson County has to offer!

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