More Than a Name: The People Behind Tallahassee’s Establishments

By Abby Cloud | Photo: Tallahassee Arts

Tallahassee is home to a variety of buildings, schools, libraries, and other sites honoring some notable figures in our community. Even if we visit these locations frequently,  how many of us actually know the history or significance behind the name of these places? Take a moment to read more about these popular places and who they were named after—you never know what you may learn!  

Kate Sullivan, Kate Sullivan Elementary School — Kate Sullivan Elementary School was established in 1948 as the third elementary school in Tallahassee. Its namesake is derived from Kate Sullivan—affectionately called “Miss Kate”— a Leon County educator that taught for “nearly half a century.” Sullivan taught elementary and English classes, and is documented as saying “one of the greatest rewards of her life was seeing former pupils become leading citizens in this and other cities.” She was honored in 1948 when Kate Sullivan Elementary School was named after her, and later passed in March of 1953. 

(Photo: Leon County Schools)

LeRoy Collins, LeRoy Collins Library In 1993, the Leon County Public Library was renamed after former Florida governor, LeRoy Collins. A graduate of Leon High School, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives at 25-years-old, and later served in the Florida Senate until he resigned to join the Navy in World War II. In 1954, Collins was elected Florida’s 33rd Governor and was re-elected for a second term. As governor, Collins brought Florida many improvements to its education system and was a strong supporter of integration. Collins passed in 1991 and is buried at his family home in Tallahassee, The Grove.

(Photo: Public Domain)

Bill Montford, William J. Montford III Middle School — This middle school was named after Senator Bill Montford in 2008. He was a teacher and principal in town. Montford has served as a Florida senator since 2010 and currently represents Florida’s 3rd District (Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla counties). He is the Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Vice Chair of the Committee of Education, and is a member on the Committee of Agriculture. 

(Photo: Leon County Schools)

Ruby Diamond, Ruby Diamond Concert Hall —  Florida State University’s auditorium, Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, is dedicated to Florida Female College (FSU’s title in 1905) alumna Ruby Diamond. Diamond graduated in 1905 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and served as a “generous donor to more than 37 organizations.” As alum to the university, she advocated for the Department of Educational research and development, and donated extensively-priced property to the university in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1970s, FSU honored Diamond by dedicating its largest concert hall to her. 

(Photo: Tallahassee Arts)

Lawton Chiles, Lawton Chiles High School — Lawton Chiles High School is named after the former Florida governor, Lawton Chiles. Chiles served in the Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Senate, and the US Senate. In 1991, he became governor of Florida and was re-elected for a second consecutive term. While in office, Chiles vocalized his disapproval of tobacco and the tobacco industry. Just 3 weeks before leaving office, Chiles suffered a fatal heart attack in December of 1998. 

(Photo: Lawton Chiles High School)

Doak S. Campbell, Doak Campbell Stadium — This beloved pinnacle of Florida State University football takes its name from Doak Sheridan Campbell, the president of FSU at the time of the college’s transition from Florida State College for Women to The Florida State University. Campbell became the university’s president in 1941 and oversaw the substantial shift taking place under his administration. As the new Florida State University developed, he was a big advocate of adopting an “intercollegiate sports program” and supported the creation of a football stadium, which later opened in 1950 and was named after him. Campbell retired in 1957 and held out the position of President Emeritus until he passed in 1973. 

(Photo: Seminole Dining)

Amos P. Godby, Amos P. Godby High School — The namesake for this Tallahassee high school comes from Amos P. Godby. After moving to Florida in 1930, Godby began a coaching and teaching career at Leon High School. In 1945, he became Superintendent of Leon County Schools. A main objective during his time as superintendent was working to ensure that Florida’s students had the opportunity to receive proper public education. As a result, Godby developed driver’s education classes, summer school programs, and the use of educational television. In 1992, Godby passed away and was buried in his home state of Kentucky. 

(Photo: Amos P. Godby High School)

J.B. “Jubie” and Eugene Bragg, Bragg Memorial Stadium — Located at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), this stadium is named after the father and son duo, J.B. and Eugene Bragg, both considered the “first family of Rattler Football.” J.B., or “Jubie,” was the first head football coach for FAMU and served for nearly 30 years as coach. Eugene followed in his father’s footsteps and began coaching in 1934. Tragically, Eugene was involved in a fatal car accident only one year into his coaching career. Both Jubie and Eugene were awarded spots in FAMU Athletics’s Hall of Fame in the late 1970s. 

(Photo: Florida Smart)

Elizabeth Cobb, Elizabeth Cobb Middle School — This middle school in Tallahassee gets its namesake from Elizabeth Cobb, an educator in Leon County who worked with the school system for many years. Her teaching career began in 1915 and consisted of teaching elementary and high school, as well as serving as principal of the now-closed Caroline Brevard School in the early 1930s. Later, Cobb became the supervisor of Leon County Schools in 1935the same year she retired. Cobb was alive to see the establishment of Elizabeth Cobb Middle School in 1952, and passed away in the 1970s at 96 years old.

(Photo: Elizabeth Cobb Middle School)

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