Thursday, April 23, 2009

Home of a Princess in Tallahassee

In a recent post on the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science, I mentioned that the complex preserves a number of historic structures including the home of a Florida princess.

Belleview, the home of Princess Catherine Daingerfield Willis Murat, has been beautifully restored and is one of my favorite exhibits at the museum.

A grandniece of President George Washington, the princess received her title when she married Prince Achille Murat at Tallahassee in 1826. A nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Murat came to the United States after the fall of the Napoleonic Empire.

The couple traveled the world but were closely associated with Florida. One of their homes near Tallahassee was burned in an Indian raid during the Second Seminole War. After spending time in Europe, they relocated to a plantation in Jefferson County, where Prince Murat died in 1847.

In 1852, when Napoleon III declared an empire in France, Catherine Murat became a recognized Princess of the French Court. She traveled to France and also received financial support from the Empire.

Two years after the recognition of her title, Princess Murat purchased Belleview. Then the center of a 520 acre cotton plantation, the home was originally located on Jackson Bluff Road in Leon County. She lived there until her death in 1867. The house has been relocated from its original site to the museum where it is now beautifully restored and open to the public daily.

To learn more about the Princess Murat home, please visit

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