The former home of Florida A&M University legendary football coach, Alonzo “Jake” Gaither will become a historic marker.
At 212 Young St., on April 11, 2015, Leon County will mount this prestigious monument that deems the property a historic site.
Cornelius Jones, the Tallahassee real estate entrepreneur, purchased the house. He said he bought the house to re-sell it.
“I bought this house more than a year ago simply to re-sell. But when I learned the house was the home of the late Gaither I decided to restore it as a museum,” Jones said.
Jones bought the house for $35,000 in back taxes, then spent more than $100,000 in renovations. He has restored the kitchen, bathroom and main bedroom to their original appearance.
Jones wants to keep Gaither’s home as authentic as possible. Even the hardwood floors have been refurbished to their original state. The walls, cabinets and bookcases were filled with photos of Gaither, his players and other famous football coaches who attended Gaither's clinics in Tallahassee, Fla.
The house was filled with memorabilia, including game programs and original copies of Gaither speeches. There are display cases with trophies and plaques throughout the home.
Reche Jones, Cornelius' wife, said it did not seem right to have Gaither's house and all his historic belongings and just sell it.
“We want the students at FAMU and visitors to know who Jake Gaither was and how his accomplishments helped FAMU reach national prominence," Jones said.
Gaither coached 25 seasons at FAMU 1945-1969. He won 203 games and six black college championships. Gaither also turned out a string of pro football stars, including Willie Galimore, Bob “Bullet” Hayes and Ken Riley.
Gaither won 84 percent of his games and his Rattlers were unbeaten in 1957, '59 and '61.
Spencer Tyrus, a history professor at FAMU. believed Gaither paved the way for black coaches, especially in the south,
“Students can really benefit from the Gaither house. All the history it carries is phenomenal, Tyrus said. “Hopefully students and visitors will embrace the history the house has to offer, which can consequently restore the excitement and spirit of rattler football in Tallahassee.”
Gaither, who died in 1994 at age 90, lived the last 40 years of his life at Young St., in a modest brick home a couple blocks east of the campus.
“Gaither was more than just a coach to his athletes but more of a father figure, who taught them there was more to life than just sports and that he wanted the best for them on and off the field,” said Jones
To book a rental or donate to the Jake Gaither House, visit www.jakegaitherhouse.com