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Smokey Hollow Commemoration

Architects Lewis + Whitlock

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Cascades Park



City of Tallahassee/Leon County + Blueprint 2000


  • Hays Layerd, AIA
  • Rodney Lewis, AIA


  • Civil Engineer: Genesis Engineering
  • Structural Engineer: Rosenbaum Associates
  • Electrical Engineer: Pinnacle Engineering

Project Status


Year Completed


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Project Description

The Smokey Hollow Commemoration at Cascades Park came about due to a community desire to commemorate Tallahassee’s Smokey Hollow neighborhood that was lost in the name of ‘Deep South’ Urban Renewal in the 1960’s. The challenge lay in how to design a commemoration that embodies the neighborhood that once existed in the footprint of this new park area. Architects Lewis + Whitlock was provided with many years of efforts from Tallahassee civic groups, community leaders, residents of the former Smokey Hollow neighborhood, municipal planners and designers. An idea was born and the direction set in motion. We set forth to tell this story and facilitate these ideas. The result is a collaboration of those who are focused on the Tallahassee community, along with the hope that the Smokey Hollow story can be told and memories can be seen. The Smokey Hollow neighborhood consisted of rows of shotgun houses, facing a communal dirt path, surrounded by groves of trees, with a ditch that meandered through the community. The commemoration design focused on the mystery of what was once there; what was left? The foundation piers, perhaps the flooring, and most intact – the hearth. The fireplace and chimney remained the longest, staking their claim, a piece of history to see and touch. It was this ghost of a structure that inspired the shelters, which ground this new public space. The primary elements of the Smokey Hollow neighborhood incorporate three, sculptural, steel-framed Spirit Houses, a bubbling water fountain feature, a fountain plaza, a tree grove, community planting boxes, and the location of a future pavilion. Also included on site are a restroom facility, bike parking, and a small corner plaza with low seating walls at the site’s entry at the northwest corner. These site features are organized around a twelve foot wide stabilized granite “Main Street” that runs from the northwest plaza diagonal across the site, to the water feature plaza at the southeast. The commemorative park ties into the existing larger park trail, a pedestrian and bike path located along the site’s east boundary and parallel to Franklin Boulevard. Inspired by Robert Venturi’s Benjamin Franklin Ghost Houses, the ‘spirit houses’ rise from the earth providing that faint memory of what once stood. Aligned along the interior street, their porches invite the visitors. Each house is anchored by the remnant of the masonry chimney. These structures will be used in a variety of ways to facilitate educational activities, festivals and civic events. An information kiosk is strategically located to provide educational information to visitors and provide the history of the Smokey Hollow neighborhood. The public commemoration relays an important cultural history. An information kiosk is strategically located to orient visitors to the park and the history of the strong black community that once occupied this area. The interior street intersects a central fountain connecting the neighborhood of spirit houses and community gardens to a city bike path.
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