The LeRoy Collins Institute is a nonpartisan, statewide policy organization which studies and promotes creative solutions to key private and public issues facing the people of Florida and the nation. The Institute, located in Tallahassee at Florida State University, is affiliated with and works in collaboration with the State University System of Florida. Named in honor of former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, the Institute is governed by a distinguished board of directors, chaired by Lester Abberger. The Institute’s Director is Carol S. Weissert, LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar and Professor of Political Science at FSU. Other trustees include current and former elected officials, other policy makers, educators and private citizens from throughout the state. See our By-Laws here: LCI By-Laws
The Institute organized and heads the Partnership for Revising Florida’s Constitution, a collaboration of 19 associations and groups in Florida that publicizes and monitors the activities of the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission. The Partnership published the 2017-2018 Citizens’ Guide to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and maintains an active website which you can visit at ReviseFl.com.
Recent work of the Institute includes research on state colleges, desegregation of K-12 schools, and local government pensions and health benefits. As a result of publishing and promoting this research, the Institute’s work has been reported on in almost every major daily paper in Florida. Executive leadership and research fellows at the Institute have also been asked to testify in front of legislative committees, speak to interested groups and continue to be quoted in related articles and editorials on the topics studied by the Institute. Reports are distributed statewide among legislators, lobbyists, and university officials as well as to the media and public at large.
Our Location: The Caldwell House
The land upon which this house originated was developed as Blackwood Plantation, 800 acres which were purchased in 1828 by Charles Black (1808-1830). Black’s widow Janet Reid Black was the daughter of Florida Governor Robert Raymond Reid, and the family occupied the property until the 1840’s. Sources describe a house on the property to have been built in 1826 by Col. Robert Butler (1786-1860), Florida’s first Surveyor General and friend of Andrew Jackson. Was it this house? A 1962 report relying on historical information provided by Millard Caldwell suggests it was, naming it “The Robert Butler House.” However, the “Statement of Significance” in the 1978 application to include the house on the National Register of Historic Places suggests not, and mentions another house nearby as being owned by Col. Robert Butler, Sr. In confirmation of this, Clifton Paisley, in his book “The Red Hills of Florida, 1528-1865” mentions the plantation home of Col. Butler, and then “just west of Butler’s place” the 320 acres of Rev. George C. S. Johnson (p. 132-133.)
The present Johnson-Caldwell House was built before 1852 by George C. Johnson, and later owned by his son Miles Johnson. In 1867, the house was purchased by Dr. Robert Butler, son of Col. Butler. Dr. Butler sold the property 16 months later. A photograph from 1904 shows members of the Johnson family again in possession of the house. Richard Johnson rented out the property as a dairy farm, then sold it to The Florida-Carolina Company in 1907. The property was developed as a pecan orchard owned by the Tallahassee Pecan Endowment.
When the pecan company’s lands were sold in parcels in 1941, the house and acreage were purchased by Millard Fillmore Caldwell, at the time a congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. Caldwell re-named his home Harwood Plantation in honor of his wife Mary Rebecca Harwood. Millard Caldwell became Governor of Florida in 1945, a Florida Supreme Court Justice in 1962, and Chief Justice in 1967. He died in 1984 and Mrs. Caldwell in 1986. The Governor and Mrs. Caldwell are buried on the property in the Black-Harwood Plantations Cemetery. The house was donated to Florida State University by the Caldwells’ daughter, Sally Caldwell McCord, and moved to the Village Green in July, 1986.