Riley Museum & Center is Located at:
419 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Hours of Operation:
Open to the public Tuesday – Thursday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Our guided tours include the Smokey Hollow Commemorative Park
*Other times available for group tours by appointment only
Admission: Adults - $5 , Children, K-12 - $3
MISSION & HISTORY.
The John Gilmore Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc. is a historical and cultural gem that sits at the bottom of a hill in downtown Tallahassee, at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets.
The Riley House was constructed circa 1890 on the fringe of a community called Smokey Hollow. Its owner was a former enslaved man, John Gilmore Riley, rose to prominence as an educator and civic leader. He received formal education from public and private institutions. Riley began his first teaching job in 1877 at a school in Wakulla County. In 1892 he became principal of the Lincoln Academy (located at 438 West Brevard Street in Tallahassee, Florida) where he served until his retirement in 1926.
LIFE & LEGACY OF
JOHN G. RILEY
In addition to a forty-nine year career of educational leadership, Mr. Riley also served as Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons of Florida, an African American fraternal organization. Riley was among the few African Americans in Tallahassee to own property at the turn of the century. He acquired seven major downtown parcels of land, among them including the property on which he built his home, the site of the Department of Natural Resource and Bryant Building and the parking lot of the Florida State University Law School. The Riley House remains as a legacy of the African American middle class that emerged during his lifetime.
In 1996, the Riley House became the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture. 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 America¹s history is interpreted and presented.
The Riley House has been an ongoing preservation effort involving many organizations and individuals over the years. It serves as an important symbol of the African American leadership in Florida’s Capital city, and is included on the Florida Black Heritage Trail, which recognizes important African American landmarks around the state.
Thanks to our incredible members, donors, and supporters. Your generous support ensures the continuation of our heritage education programs, community engagement, and the curation of our annual exhibits.