Smokey Hollow barbershop wins statewide award

Smokey Hollow Commemoration at Cascades Park include the barbershop that was once part of a vibrant community.
Photo submitted

Special to the Outlook

Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency, Leon County government and the City of Tallahassee preserved and restored the historic Smokey Hollow Barbershop as part of the Capital Cascades Park Project.

This piece of history recently won the 2023 Historic Preservation and Restoration Award from the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Smokey Hollow Commemoration is located at Althemese Pemberton Barnes Park at the corner of Franklin Boulevard and E. Pensacola Street.

“This prestigious professional award recognizes the County and the City for preserving and restoring one of our community’s most important heritage sites,” said IA Board Chair and Leon County At-Large Commissioner Carolyn Cummings. “By preserving this piece of our shared past, we are not only honoring the spirit of the Smokey Hollow community, but we are also reminding future generations of the resilience and culture that once thrived in the heart of Tallahassee-Leon County.”

The Smokey Hollow Commemoration memorializes a long-standing African American neighborhood that was displaced due to urban construction in the 1960s. It was constructed as part of the Blueprint Capital Cascades Park Project. The site explores the neighborhood’s story and reclaims, reinvigorates, and honors a way of life that thrived just east of the Florida State Capitol.

“The Smokey Hollow Commemoration sets the tone to preserving history in the Tallahassee-Leon County community,” said City Commissioner Curtis Richardson. “Thanks to the active participation of the community, this project is now a popular space for residents and visitors.”

The historic Smokey Hollow Barbershop (formerly known as the Liberty Barbershop) was located at 621 E. St. Augustine Street, which is now home to the Florida Department of Transportation. The barbershop once was a vital part of the community and is now the last remaining business structure that originally stood in the Smokey Hollow neighborhood. The barbershop was restored to its current form with the assistance of Lively Technical Center, Hammond Design Group LLC and RAM Construction. It was relocated to Cascades Park near its original location in Smokey Hollow, which now complements the Smokey Hollow Commemoration.

“The Smokey Hollow Barbershop was an exciting project for Blueprint,” said Blueprint Director Autumn Calder. “The citizens working group that included former Smokey Hollow residents, John G. Riley Center and Museum representatives, historians and architects is an example of how a Blueprint infrastructure project leverages the planning process to preserve a piece of history.”

The barbershop building now serves as an exhibit with artifacts donated by Tallahassee residents, including an original barbering chair and barbering tools. It is open to the public for educational tours upon request. That tours can be arranged by calling the City of Tallahassee Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs department at (850) 891-3866.

In 2014, a Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was completed for the Smokey Hollow community and archived at the United States Library of Congress. The Smokey Hollow Historic American Landscapes Survey captures the history and former residents’ memories of Smokey Hollow and sanctifies them as public memories that embody the past and present existence of the once-vibrant community. The barbershop’s inclusion in the Smokey Hollow Commemoration, together with its historic narratives, ensures that this neighborhood’s social and commercial characteristics are permanently memorialized.


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