WASHINGTON, D.C. – Floridians in Washington for the inauguration have a place to call home. The Florida House is a nonprofit, bipartisan site of hospitality and history that calls itself an embassy for state residents and an outreach to those from other states.
Florida House is a restored Victorian house one block from the U.S. Capitol and across the street from the Supreme Court. It will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, serving hot chocolate and, of course, orange juice. It will also be dry and warm, with televisions showing all the festivities.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, hosted a reception at the house Thursday morning. They brought in clam chowder from Cedar Key for the event.
"It's a special place because Mrs. (Rhea) Chiles (wife Lawton Chiles, Florida's senator from 1973 to 1991) had the foresight, along with a group of people, to make the house," Yoho said. "We wanted to have an event here for people coming up for the inauguration to celebrate. This is what America is about."
Florida House, which opened in 1973, offers tours of the art collection, antiques and treasures donated by Floridians. There are views of two of the three branches of government from its second-floor window.
"The day after the election, I called Carol and said, 'We need to do this. We may never have the opportunity to come up for an inauguration. And we need to do it.' So, we got started to make plans and here we are," said Lynn Binet.
Binet, who grew up in Jacksonville but now lives in Alabama, and her friend, Carol Serna, did decide to travel to the inauguration. Binet and Serna, who lives in Green Cove Springs, stopped by the Florida House Thursday.
Serna said she was excited to get the chance to be there for Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
"The fact that he's going to lead our country and we need to be here in support of him. That part is exciting. I hate to see or country so disjointed. Hopefully, after the election, everybody will come together and love one another," Serna said.
After welcoming visiting Floridians, students, dignitaries and elected officials, Yoho said he believes the culture of Washington will change under Trump.
"There will be an adjustment and transition period here, but the people who sent us up here, we stood by the values we ran on," Yoho said. "I think we've seen enough legislative malpractice."