Florida House is not owned by the State of Florida, but rather by the people of the state through a nonprofit foundation. The foundation is managed by a Board of Trustees representing a cross section of business, cultural, and philanthropic leaders of Florida. No state or federal tax dollars support the house or its operations. Funding of the house is by individual contributions from fellow Floridians, corporate sponsors and the Board of Trustees. The house is also rented out as a facility for special functions to raise funds.
Rhea Chiles, The Founding Lady
Rhea Chiles founded Florida House in 1973. It was her vision that created and sustained the house for these many years. She now serves as Chairman Emeritus of the house and is active on the Board. The Chairman of Florida House is traditionally the First Lady of the State. Currently, First Lady, Mrs. Ann Scott holds this position.
Florida House & Florida's First Lady
Florida House is a nonpartisan organization, enjoying collaboration and friendship from members of the Florida State Legislature and the Florida Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C. According to the bylaws, the spouse of the current governor is invited to serve as Chairman. Mrs. Scott has provided active and enthusiastic support for Florida House goals and graciously works with its Trustees and staff.
First of Its Kind
Florida is the only state to have an "Embassy" in Washington. Other states, specifically California and Texas, have tried but have not met with success. Now, the zoning regulations within the District of Columbia would prohibit a facility like Florida House. We are grandfathered in and will exist as long as the generosity of Floridians supports the concept.
Who Can Visit Florida House?
Open Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm (except when closed on all Federal holidays), we welcome all Floridians and their guests to Florida's embassy. Whether you are in the nation's capital as a tourist, on business, with a school group or lobbying on Capitol Hill, ring the doorbell to enter an oasis from your busy day. If you are with a large group, please let us know in advance if you are stopping by so we will expecting you.
We have approximately 10,000 guests per year at Florida House. These guests include individuals, school groups, business people, state legislators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and passers-by who have never heard of Florida House. The house has been an unintentional "secret" to many Floridians. While major media outlets around the state have featured the house over the years, it is still not widely known that Floridians have a "home away from home" in Washington.
The View Outside
The view out of the windows to the Capitol dome is inspiring. We are to the east of the Capitol—the front side. Lady Freedom is facing us. Historically, inaugurations were held on this side. That is, until President Reagan was elected. President Reagan wanted to face California, where he had been Governor, when he took his Oath of Office. By doing this, though, it was determined that twice as many people could view the swearing-in ceremony. In addition, it is a much prettier view on the other side with the steps and the Mall stretching out to the west.