Tallahassee in Leon County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
John Gilmore Riley House
Erected 1998 by the John G. Riley Foundation and the Florida Department of State Sandra B. Mortham, Secretary of State. (Marker Number F-378.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Education • Fraternal or Sororal Organizations • Notable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church ⛪ series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1857.
Location. 30° 26.373′ N, 84° 16.645′ W. Marker is in Tallahassee, Florida, in Leon County. Marker is at the intersection of East Jefferson Street and South Meridian Street, on the right when traveling east on East Jefferson Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 419 East Jefferson Street, Tallahassee FL 32301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Leon County (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Union Bank of Florida (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lewis Bank (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Knott House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Exchange Bank Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Florida Sri Chinmoy Peace State (approx. 0.2 miles away); Florida Liberty Bell Replica (approx. 0.2 miles away); Old Capitol of Florida (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tallahassee.
Also see . . . The John G. Riley Center/Museum. (Submitted on December 10, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
1. The John G. Riley House Museum
The following is the text of the panels shown in photo #3
The Riley House Museum
Constructed in 1890, the Riley House is the last physical evidence of a thriving middle-class African American community that existed downtown at the turn of the 20th century.
The Riley House is the second house in Florida owned by an African American person to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1995, a group of Tallahassee citizens established a museum at the Riley House dedicated to African American history and culture.
The John G. Riley Foundation, Inc.
The mission of the foundation and museum is to preserve the historic John G. Riley House and the cultural and educational history of African Americans in Tallahassee and the state of Florida from the Reconstruction Era through the civil rights movement.
Through research, exhibits, educational productions and publications, conferences, workshops, and an oral history component, the significance of African American history as a vital part of America’s history is
John G. Riley
Who was John Gilmore Riley?
John Gilmore Riley was born to James and Sarah Wells Riley in 1857. Sarah was a slave and, by law, her son inherited her status. Florida law denied slaves the right to read and write, but John’s Virginia-born Aunt Henrietta secretly taught him these skills. After emancipation, he took advantage of every opportunity to increase his academic competence. Riley accepted his first teaching job when he was 20. In 1893 he was named Principal of the Lincoln School for Coloreds – Tallahassee’s first high school for persons of color.
Riley also became an accomplished businessman. He acquired a substantial number of rental properties, but never forgot what it was like to be poor. He established the Christmas Basket Committee to provide holiday food and gifts to the needy. He also served as a Trustee for the St. James C.M.E. Church and contributed substantial sums in his support. Riley was a 32nd degree Mason and was elected Grand High Priest in 1908. He was also a leader in the early days of the civil rights movement, and served as Secretary for the local chapter of the NAACP. He fought for equal pay for black teachers and was instrumental in establishing Leon County’s first interracial council for businessmen. John Gilmore Riley lived in the age of 96 – a noble witness to some of the most pivotal events in America’s development.
Help Support the Riley House
The John G. Riley House Museum and Foundation are currently accepting donations to help establish an endowment fund to provide a perpetual source of funds to maintain and preserve the Riley property and to sustain its programs. Donations are tax deductible.
— Submitted September 2, 2017, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2017. It was originally submitted on December 10, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 489 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 10, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.