The oldest child of Mary and Richard Keith Call, Ellen Call Long took over control of The Grove from her father in 1851 and lived on the property until her death in 1905.
Long lived in a world in which women could not vote and with few exceptions exerted very little direct political influence. Despite the restrictions placed upon her by Victorian society, Long worked behind-the-scenes to shape Florida’s image before the rest of the world.
Portrait of Ellen Call Long, ca. 1880. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida
Long would have been an exceptional individual had she lived during any era in our nation’s history.
A tireless promoter of Florida, she represented her home state at a number of national and international expositions, including the 1876 US Centennial in Philadelphia, the 1882 Cotton Centennial in New Orleans, the 1889 International Exposition in Paris, and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
She joined the pioneers of historic preservation who dedicated time, effort, and money to save national treasures like George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Andrew Jackson’s The Hermitage.
She raised silkworms at her home to demonstrate a new vision for the future of southern agriculture. Long also spoke and published on the topic of forestry. Her observations on the ecological necessity of fire to maintain long leaf pine forests predated the adoption of prescribed burning by professional foresters by nearly a half-century.
Left: Title page of Silk Farming, by Ellen Call Long. Image courtesy of the University of Florida Digital Collections
Right: U.S. Flag made from silk cultivated at The Grove, 1885. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida
Throughout her life, Long wrote on history and southern society.
Her most significant contribution, titled Florida Breezes, was published in 1883. A work of historical fiction, Long derived much of the book’s content from conversations with her father as well as her own personal experiences. Florida Breezes received mostly negative reviews, in large part because Long held fast to the Unionist ideology espoused by her father. Tallahassee citizens reportedly purchased the book only to burn it in the streets.
Long’s views on the folly of secession and ambivalence towards the legacy of slavery did not sit well with her fellow southerners, many of whom helped to create the Lost Cause. Long worked for many years to complete the journal begun by her father during his final days. Her observations during the Civil War document the initial hope and eventual desperation experienced by Tallahassee residents, as the tide of the war turned against the Confederacy.
Despite suffering occasionally sharp criticism from her neighbors, The Grove evolved into the social center of Tallahassee under Long’s ownership. She hosted parties and held community events and, to help make ends meet, rented out rooms in her house to political figures in town on government business.
Like her parents, Long experienced the death of all but two of her children. Only a daughter, Eleanora “Nonie” Long, and a son, Richard Call Long, survived to adulthood. Her husband, an attorney named Medicus Long, abandoned the family in the 1850s.
Left: Eleanora "Nonie" Long. Image courtesy of Jane Aurell Menton
Right: Three of Ellen Call Long's grandchildren with a goat cart at The Grove, ca. 1890. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida
Long proved entirely capable of managing her own affairs independently of her estranged husband. She continued to manage the agricultural properties owned by her family near Lake Jackson, which after emancipation were populated by former slaves turned sharecroppers.
The income from these properties, combined with her entrepreneurial efforts, helped Long hold onto The Grove. Despite vigorous effort, she was eventually forced to sell much of the original property purchased by her father. By 1887, The Grove contained only 13 of its original 640 acres.
902 N. Monroe., Tallahassee, FL 32303
Wednesday: House tours on the hour, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Thursday: House tours on the hour, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Friday: House tours on the hour, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Saturday: House tours on the hour, 10, 11 a.m., Noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Group Tours: Tours for groups of ten (10) or more are available at $1.00 per guest. For group tours, please contact the museum in advance to make arrangements.
Grounds open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.