The Rutgers House
The Tallahassee Garden Center was built in 1840 for Henry Rutgers (City Councilman and Territorial Treasurer, 1842-1844) by George Proctor, a free black who built may of the early Tallahassee homes. It is one of Tallahassee’s historic landmarks. The doors and woodwork are mahogany, most of the lumber hand-hewn from native trees. The bricks came from a local kiln north of The Grove. The grounds originally contained a smokehouse, an outdoor kitchen, and a large carriage house.
Henry Rutgers sold the house in 1889 to Edward and Clementine LeRoy who, in turn, sold it to Erastus Clark in 1893. Clark’s daughters Jainie Clark and Minnie Clark Spears inherited the house, and upon her death, Minnie Clark Spears donated the house to the Salvation Army. The Tallahassee Garden Club purchased the house from the Salvation Army on March 4, 1954.
In 1969, the Garden Club began a restoration program that enlarged the original auditorium to accomodate 100 people. Additionally, the Club added a stage and central heating and air. The Arvah Hopkins patio was added in 1987.
This historic home, which occupies a half city block in downtown Tallahassee, has become an important civic asset. The Garden Center provides a central location for club and community activites, as well as special events and weddings.