Today was one of those days I just had to take off in the middle of the day to enjoy an hour or so of sunshine, kids voices, the sound of a water fountain and views of a serene lake, and just breathe in. I headed to Lake Ella in downtown Tallahassee. Lake Ella is located just off North Monroe (US 27) at the corner of Tharpe Street in the heart of downtown Tallahassee
Native Tallahasseans like me, remember Lake Ella as a spot our parent’s would take us for a half a day, after school or on a Sunday afternoon. I remember as a child, the Tallahassee Fourth of July fireworks on the lake, picnics in the park with my family and the many times I took my girls there to “feed the ducks,” loaded with bags of stale bread.
Originally called Bull Pond a name that dates back to around 1867. Black churches used to have baptismals in the clear water. In 1867, 2000 “freedmen” gathered at the Lake for a day long political rally. That was a lot of people back in that day!
In the early 20’s Gilbert Chandler opened the Tallahassee Motor Hotel along what was known as the coast-to-coast highway, the “Old Spanish Trail.” It was about then that Lake Ella was renamed. The cottages that were once popular honeymoon cottages are still in existence, only now filled with local businesses and artisans. The City of Tallahassee maintains the urban watershed and treats the water for stormwater runoff pollutants.
No matter what day, or time of day, Tallahassean’s are out enjoying Lake Ella and the walking path around the lake, the grassy park and gazebo areas or the covered picnic tables. The ducks are still there and still a favorite with small children. Many generations of ducks have been born and passed since I was a kid!
If you get a chance.. go check it out, stop for a sandwich or cup of coffee at the Black Dog Cafe or just take a blanket and spread out on the grass with a book. You’ll be glad you did!