Over 60 images documenting the lives of members of the Tookes and McCoy families of Tallahassee, the Tookes Hotel, and scenes of the Frenchtown area in Tallahassee.

Creator: Ron McCoy

Title: Ron McCoy Collection

Quantity: 60 images

Description:

Over 60 images documenting the lives of members of the Tookes and McCoy families of Tallahassee, the Tookes Hotel, and scenes of the Frenchtown area in Tallahassee.

Historical Note:

Dorothy Ethel Nash was born February 19, 1905 in Tallahassee. She graduated from the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical College in 1928 and became a schoolteacher. In 1930, Dorothy married James Tookes, a chef who would eventually work at both the Governor’s Mansion and the home of John Phipps, founder of the Tallahassee-based television station WCTV. The young couple made their home in Tallahassee’s Frenchtown neighborhood at 412 W. Virginia St.

Dorothy’s first major contribution to her community came at the urging of Leon County School Superintendent Frank Hartsfield in 1935. Hartsfield asked Mrs. Tookes to establish a new elementary school in the Bond community and serve as principal. Bond Elementary opened that same year, initially housed in St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church and Flipper Chapel AME Church. The school district constructed the current Bond Elementary School facility in 1938. Tookes remained principal at Bond until 1940, when she accepted a teaching position in neighboring Gadsden County.

As Tallahassee continued growing after World War II, James and Dorothy Tookes noticed that the city lacked adequate facilities for housing African-American travelers. Segregation was still enshrined in law throughout much of the South, and Tallahassee’s hotels and tourist homes were generally closed to African-American guests. Sensing an opportunity to remedy this situation, the Tookes family added a bathroom and three bedrooms onto their Frenchtown home and began taking in boarders in 1948. By the 1950s, they were marketing the house as the Tookes Hotel, identifiable by a neon sign – one of Tallahassee’s first – posted in the yard outside. As Leon County’s only lodging establishment open to African-Americans at that time, the Tookes Hotel played host to several black celebrities, including singer Lou Rawls, band leader Duke Ellington, and writer James Baldwin.

The Tookes Hotel remained in operation until the early 1980s. Dorothy Tookes died in 1988, but her hotel’s legacy as a focal point of the Frenchtown neighborhood is still being honored. The Tookes Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in January 2001, and Tookes’ grandson Ron McCoy is currently leading an effort to turn the historic house into a museum and bed and breakfast.