The passing of Ellen Call Long in 1905 gave way to a new era at The Grove. Reinette Long Hunt acquired The Grove shortly before Ellen Call Long’s death. With the exception of several years preceding World War I, she lived on the property until she passed away in 1940. Hunt embodied the entrepreneurial spirit of her forbearers and engaged in several strategies to produce income.
The Grove, ca. 1927. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida
In 1908, Hunt helped organize the first Tallahassee Country Club at The Grove. The club initially convened at her home and took advantage of a few golf holes laid out north of the property. For unknown reasons, the planned tennis and croquet courts never materialized and the club soon moved to its present location near Myers Park. Hunt was the last member of the family to earn income from the Lake Jackson properties, particularly those known as Orchard Pond. In about 1911, Hunt, who had previously leased out Orchard Pond, sold her remaining interests and the property became one of a number of quail hunting estates still in use today in the North Florida/South Georgia Red Hills region.
Like her grandmother, Hunt managed The Grove without support from her spouse. Divorce proceedings from 1911 document the repeated abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Hunt’s strength and independent spirit were evidenced by her dedication to maintaining the ancestral family home through hard times.
Reinette Long Hunt with her dog Diogenes, ca. 1930. Photo courtesy of Jane Aurell Menton
Hunt exhibited an artistic streak and taught china painting and pastels out of her home studio. Contemporary accounts portray Hunt’s home as having a salon-like atmosphere, where influential members of society met to discuss literature and debate the issues of the day. Hunt’s interest in the literary arts compelled her to write on Florida history and culture. Having grown up at The Grove during the Ellen Call Long era, Hunt wrote about her predecessors’ contributions to Florida history. She also dabbled in poetry and playwriting. In 1924, Hunt hosted thousands of Tallahassee residents at The Grove for a performance of her epic play, titled “A Historical Pageant of Tallahassee.”
Left: Porcelian Plate Painted by Reinette Long Hunt. The Grove Collection
Hunt’s efforts to produce income extended to the development of Grove-themed products. She reportedly made small batches of soap bearing The Grove name and also attempted her own brand of tomato sauce. According to LeRoy Collins, Hunt’s tomato sauce experiment came to an unceremonious end after a batch exploded on the back porch. Recent archaeological evidence from the site supports Collins’ story. Dozens of Heinz bottles, all bearing mid-1930s dates, emerged during excavation of The Grove’s historic cistern. In the version of the story told by Collins, the batch erupted because Hunt’s handy man, Robert Giddings Aldridge, had added too much wine to the mixture.
"Home of Tallahassee Girl" postcard, ca. 1930. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida
Like her grandmother, Hunt opened her home to long-term guests. She also delved into the hotel business. From the 1920s through to the end of her life, Hunt operated The Grove as a hotel. She marketed The Grove as the home of the “Tallahassee Girl,” a reference to a popular novel published in the 1870s and reportedly inspired by Ellen Call Long’s daughter, Eleanora “Nonie” Hollinger. Hunt made small changes to the home to accommodate her guests. She partitioned at least one room on the second floor and built bathrooms on the east side of the house for an apartment shared with her mother, Cora Gamble Long. As the Great Depression lingered on into the late 1930s, Hunt initiated plans to subdivide the property and built rental cottages on her land to the north of the main house. The Burr Cottage is now used for The Grove’s staff offices.
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.