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Cascades is a place to play, but it’s also a place to pause. 

Situated on the previous site of the former Leon County Jail, the Cascades Historical Plaza highlights key moments in Tallahassee’s history and honors the courageous men and women who pioneered the nation’s first non-violent “jail-in” during the Civil Rights Movement. 

A volunteer team of local educators, preservationists and Civil Rights activists began working with Cascades developer, North American Properties, in 2017 to collect input from the community and cast a vision for this outdoor space, located at the southeast corner of East Gaines and South Gadsden Streets. Five years later, in August 2022, the team unveiled two custom exhibits in the plaza: the Tallahassee Civil Rights Memorial and the Four Corners of History marker.

Standing over eight feet tall and spanning one side of the plaza, the Tallahassee Civil Rights Memorial interprets key events in Tallahassee’s civil rights history and features a reproduction of a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent to local activists in 1960.

The Four Corners of History exhibit commemorates the significant Art Moderne architectural heritage present at the intersection of East Gaines and South Gadsen. Constructed of aluminum, the five-foot-tall marker interprets several existing historical structures located at the intersection, including the Old City Waterworks, the Caroline Brevard Grammar School (now Bloxham Building), and the former Leon County Health Unit, as well as the former jail site. The exhibit uses historical photographs and text to call attention to architectural details and the growing importance of public institutions at the turn of the 19th century.

Both exhibits were manufactured and installed by Florida State University’s Master Craftsman Studio.

Cascades Historical User Group Member Rev. Henry Steele (left) and his brother Rev. Derek Steele reflect upon a photo of a local lunch counter sit-in featured on the Tallahassee Civil Rights Memorial. Henry Steele participated in the 1960 jail-in as a civil rights activist.
The Four Corners of History marker, located at the intersection of East Gaines and South Gadsden, tells the stories behind the culturally and architecturally significant buildings in the area.
Dozens of Tallahassee residents gather to offer input on how to best commemorate the historical significance of Cascades in June 2017.