Tallahassee, Florida (Tallahassee.com) -- One of the oldest historic markers in Tallahassee is gone, and it's a mystery why it happened.
Prince and Princess Murat marker, in the 400 block of East Call Street,
disappeared sometime in the past few weeks. The Florida Department of
State, which oversees the state historic marker program, learned of the
disappearance Dec. 16 following a phone call from a newspaper reporter.
green-and-gold painted historic marker had perched on a small pole. The
pole remains... with a jagged cut where the heavy metal sign once sat.
Mattick, who oversees the historic marker program for the state Bureau
of Historic Preservation, said it's not uncommon for historic markers to
they get hit (by vehicles), sometimes it's vandalism, sometimes people
who do not like the sign remove it," Mattick said. "I wonder if a limb
fell and broke it off and the city carted it away. Often, when there is
road construction, the DOT removes the signs and forgets them. We learn
months later they're in a warehouse."
Bono, assistant to the Tallahassee city manager, checked with several
city departments on Dec. 20; none had any knowledge of what happened to
state historic marker program began in 1960. The Murat marker was
erected in 1969. At that time, it was the 11th historic marker in Leon
County and 167th in the state.
There are now 36 historic markers in Leon County and more than 770 statewide.
Murat marker was outside St. John's Cemetery, just a few yards from
where the Murats are buried. Achille Murat, nephew of French emperor
Napoleon Bonaparte, came to Tallahassee in 1825, shortly after the city
was founded. In 1826, he married Catherine Willis Murat, the great
grandniece of George Washington. They lived on a plantation in
neighboring Jefferson County.
Murat died in 1847; his wife died in 1867. Her Tallahassee home,
Bellevue, then on Jackson Bluff Road, also received a historic marker in
1969. The home and marker were later relocated to the Tallahassee
Museum, where they are on display.
The Call Street marker honoring the Murats was co-sponsored in 1969
by the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials and the Florida
Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century. The board of parks and historic
memorials is defunct. The Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century, whose
membership is limited to descendants of families who came to America
before 1700, still exists and has several chapters in Florida, including
When state officials learned
the Murat memorial was gone, they contacted Mary Allen of West Palm
Beach, chair of the society's historic markers committee. Allen
contacted Beth Wilson of Jacksonville, the society's state regent.
women said they were interested in sponsoring a replacement memorial,
but would have to take it to their membership. Allen's next historic
markers committee meeting is in January; Wilson's next state committee
meeting is in February.
A new marker would cost $2,130. State historic markers are overseen by the state but funded by private sponsors.
going to present it to (members) and tell them the importance of the
marker and the history of the family," Allen said. "It's not a done
deal. But I'd be very interested in (replacing the marker)."
said she wanted to consult the society's records; she wasn't sure the
Colonial Dames paid for the marker in 1969. But she agreed the marker
needs to be replaced.
"That's a very important marker," Wilson said. "I think there's a good chance we'd be willing to do something."
said if the Colonial Dames weren't interested, other sponsors might be
found - such as the French consulate in Miami or the sponsors of
Florida's French Heritage Trail, an online map of Florida sites with
said the state's historic markers are made by an Ohio company that has
made them since the program began in 1960. New markers have to go
through an application process, and replacement markers sometimes go
through a review of the wording.
said the Murat marker could be approved as quickly as sponsorship money
becomes available. She said the company in Ohio generally produces new
signs in just a few weeks.
we have to correct, expand or update information (on replacement
markers)," she said. "But the text on this one looks fine. It's just a
matter of sending (the order) to the company."
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