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Exploring Mission San Luis

January 29, 2011

Today we packed up the kids and headed into Tallahassee to explore Mission San Luis.  I have seen signs for the mission since moving to Tallahassee in 2002 but had no idea what to expect as we pulled into the front gate. 

The main building that houses the museum, gift shop, bathrooms and movie theater look very new.  It was a beautiful building built to evoke Spanish colonial architecture.  Two large hand carved wooden doors marked the front entrance and after passing in through a side door we stopped at the information desk to pick up a map.

While Becky watched short movie with Miss Julia Mason and I explored the museum.  There were lots of artifacts from daily life including spoons, chicken bones, shot and pottery.  They also had a crystal cross that had been found in the floor of the church. 

Before heading out to explore the reconstructed site I learned that Mission San Luis was the largest Spanish settlement to the west of St. Augustine.  I also learned that it was the capital of La Florida from 1656 until the Spanish burned it to the ground in 1704 to avoid it from falling into the hands of the British and their Creek allies. 

The reconstructed buildings were impressive.  The Council House was huge and I could not believe that something so large could have been constructed by the Apalachee.  The fort was small and did not look like it would have provided much protection.  The guide who was inside was very friendly and explained that part of the reason the Spanish left was because British shot and artillery could easily have penetrated through the walls. 

The last place we stopped before heading home was the Spanish church.  The sign stated it was as big as the church in St. Augustine and that the settlement buried its dead in the floor of the church.  I assumed they were still there as we checked out the baptismal font and the altar area.  It was very peaceful and rustic inside. 

Exploring Mission San Luis was a very fun way (for a pair of history dorks like Becky and me) to spend the afternoon and I am glad we finally checked it out.  It was also well worth the $5 admission charge. Mason had fun running around, saying hi to people and checking things out.  Miss Julia was well-behaved and only got fussy right towards the end. 

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