Home to The Funky and Eclectic

The Dreams of an Arts Patron Live on at Railroad Square

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Matt Burke

Dumpster Lords Murals by Kemeys Goethe, Cosby Hayes and Matt Shanaghan at Renditions Art Gallery, Railroad Square Art Park. 


While the Gaines Street/CollegeTown/All Saints area is growing, changing and gentrifying, Railroad Square is a 10-acre artistic oasis in the midst of all the redevelopment hubbub that’s staying true to its funky roots.

Tristin Kroening

Railroad Square is friendly to both bicyclists and pedestrians.

“Where else can you choose between walking, biking, dancing, rock climbing, shopping for unique and local art and goods, eat lunch in a cafe made out of a real railroad caboose, and enjoy a coffee on an outdoor patio or a craft beer at Tallahassee’s largest production brewery facility?” breathlessly queried Lily Boynton Kaye, who co-owns the property with her brother, Adam Boynton Kaye, and his wife.

Situated off Railroad Avenue and FAMU Way between the university campuses, Railroad Square started out as a lumber yard and industrial park, owned by William Boynton Jr. and his partner, Joe Waltham. In the mid-1970s, Boynton’s daughter, Nan Boynton, re-envisioned the park as a mecca for artists’ studios and galleries and began replacing industrial tenants with regional artists looking for inexpensive studio spaces, including Florida State University’s fine arts program.

“She was not an artist, but rather a businesswoman (her company helped develop the Ox Bottom subdivision) and a patron of the arts whose closest friends were artists,” said Lily Kaye. When Nan Boynton died in 2002, her children inherited the Railroad Square property. While both have since moved away from Tallahassee, they have chosen not to sell or redevelop the property, continuing to operate the art park according to their mother’s vision.

“We’re surrounded by new construction, and my responsibility is to preserve who we are but get us ready for this new era,” property manager Lillian Finn said. “We’re going to be that little artistic island in the middle of all of the rest of it, and we’re so excited about that.”

In the early ’80s, Boynton put on May Fair, the first arts and music festival at Railroad Square. It was the precursor to the hugely successful First Friday Gallery Hops, which for 15 years have been attracting crowds of up to 7,000 people to the art park’s signature monthly event, when all the shops and galleries stay open for the evening and food, music and other fun activities abound.

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