Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Duval





You are currently viewing Duval

Duval

JAMES "CHARLIE EDD" CRADDOCK
Location:Memorial Sunset Cemtery, Corner of Montcrief Road and Edgewood Avenue
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Originally born in Eufaula, Alabama, African American businessman James Craddock, known locally as “Charlie Edd,” moved to Jacksonville in 1921. That same year, he opened the Blue Chip Hotel on Broad Street in the African American neighborhood of LaVilla. Craddock gained a reputation as a philanthropist. In 1929, he organized a soup kitchen to feed the needy during the Great Depression until the government took over its operation in 1931. Craddock continued to grow and expand his business holdings. He opened another hotel, the Charlie Edd Hotel, in 1935, along with a barbershop and smoke shop. On Christmas 1940, Craddock opened the Two Spot, an African American nightclub. It became an instant destination, so much so that the NAACP magazine The Crisis called it “the finest dance palace in the country owned by a Negro.” Craddock continued to acquire properties, among them a haberdashery, clothing store, music store, and a number of tenant houses. Across his various businesses, Craddock employed over 500 people. He was involved in multiple fraternal organizations in Jacksonville, including the Elks Lodge and the Masons. After his death in 1954, Craddock was interred in this Art Moderne style mausoleum.
ORIENTAL GARDENS
Location:Intersection of Oriental Gardens Road and San Jose Boulevard
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Located two miles from downtown Jacksonville, south of Craig Creek in San Marco, Oriental Gardens charmed Jacksonville visitors and residents for nearly two decades. In 1925, George W. Clark began planting overflow from his botanical collection on a bluff that he owned overlooking the St. Johns River. This 18-acre private estate was opened to the public in October 1937 and, until 1954, was Jacksonville’s major tourist attraction. The Gardens were a popular spot for concerts, picnicking, and photographers, and the majestic live oak trees, hundreds of tropical and subtropical plants, brilliant flowers, arched bridges, and red Chinese gates appeared on countless postcards and souvenirs of Florida. In 1954, the estate was purchased by the State Investment Company and subdivided into 33 single family home sites. Even though the Gardens are gone, their remnants, such as statuary, gate posts, and the original stairs to the river, can be seen along Oriental Gardens Road which is now dominated by mid and late 20th century single family homes.
Sponsors: The San Marco Preservation Society and the Florida Department of State
SOUTH JACKSONVILLE CITY HALL
Location:1468 Hendricks Avenue
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Jacksonville’s Great Fire of May 3, 1901, destroyed a large part of the city and left nearly 10,000 people homeless. Numerous residents of the city relocated to other areas, including to the then-remote area of South Jacksonville, across the St. John’s River. Up to this time, this area was a farm community known as Oklahoma. South Jacksonville was incorporated as a town in 1907 with a population of about six hundred people. In 1913, ninety-six qualified voters cast ballots to pass a $65,000 bond issue for civic improvements, which included the construction of a city hall. The South Jacksonville City Hall was built in 1915 and was designed by the Jacksonville architects Mark and Sheftall in a masonry vernacular style. It housed city offices, as well as a fire truck. A trolley line ran in front of the building to Beach Road, now Atlantic Boulevard. Development in South Jacksonville expanded greatly with the opening of the St. Johns River Bridge in 1921. On January 1, 1932, South Jacksonville was annexed by the City of Jacksonville. This building is one of the few reminders that South Jacksonville once was a community distinct from the City of Jacksonville for nearly twenty-five years.
Sponsors: The San Marco Preservation Society and the Florida Department of State
SAN MARCO
Location:Balls Park, 1900 Block of San Marco Boulevard
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: With the opening of the St. John’s River Bridge in 1921, South Jacksonville became attractive to developers during the Florida land boom. In 1925, Jacksonville real estate developer Telfair Stockton began work on San Marco, an 80-acre Mediterranean-inspired community. Unlike many earlier developments, which were laid out following a grid street pattern, San Marco shows the influence of the City Beautiful movement. Its winding streets, planted medians, and use of parks and larger lots create a varied landscape and interesting building sites. San Marco developed rapidly. Before the streets were paved and the muddy claypit of a former brickyard became Lake Marco, lots were sold in a frenzy of speculation during September 1925. By late 1926, San Marco Square, the development’s business district, was laid out. It was inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice, which Stockton had visited on a trip to Europe. One of the Square’s original buildings, the St. Mark’s Building built in 1927, retains an arched façade and tile roof typical of the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. San Marco’s original residential neighborhood lies along the St. John’s River west of this marker.
Sponsors: The San Marco Preservation Society and the Florida Department of State
VILLA ALEXANDRIA
Location:Intersection of River Road and Arbor Lane, Davin Park
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Villa Alexandria, built in the 1870s as the winter home of Alexander and Martha Mitchell of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once stood near here. Martha Mitchell’s brother, Harrison Reed, served as Florida Governor from 1868-73 and lived nearby on the south bank of the St. Johns River. While visiting him, Mrs. Mitchell became enthralled with this setting and purchased 140 acres that became known as Villa Alexandria. During the late 19th century, Villa Alexandria was “the show place of the environs of Jacksonville.” Harriet Beecher Stowe, also a winter resident, described its large frame house as an “Italian Swiss Villa.” The grounds featured carriageways, extensive vegetation, a boathouse, orange groves, a swimming pool, fountains, pools, and artificial streams. Mrs. Mitchell was one of the three founders of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, which helped to preserve George Washington’s home. In Jacksonville, she helped to establish St. Luke’s Hospital Association, which she served as president for 25 years, and All Saints Episcopal Church. She died in 1902 and is buried in St. Nicholas Cemetery. Villa Alexandria was demolished about 1925 to make way for the San Marco subdivision.
Sponsors: The San Marco Preservation Society and the Florida Department of State
CENTENNIAL HALL, EDWARD WATERS COLLEGE
Location:1715 Kings Road
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Founded in 1866, Edward Waters College (EWC) is the oldest historically black college in Florida. The history of the college is closely tied to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In 1865, the Reverend Charles H. Pearce, a presiding elder of the AME Church, was sent to Florida by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. Rev. Pearce worked with William G. Steward, the first AME pastor in Florida, to establish a school. Pastor Steward named his school, which was first located in Live Oak, Brown’s Theological Institute. In 1892, the school was renamed Edward Waters College in honor of the third bishop of the AME Church. The school moved to Jacksonville in 1883 where its campus was destroyed by Jacksonville’s Great Fire of 1901. In 1904, new land was obtained and work was started on the school’s present campus. Centennial Hall, built in 1916 and named to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the AME Church, is the oldest structure on the EWC campus. The Classical Revival style building was designed by the firm of Howells and Stokes of Seattle, Washington. The building was renovated in 1979 and serves as the college’s main library. Centennial Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Sponsors: Edward Waters College Alumni Association and the Florida Department of State
ST. NICHOLAS CEMETERY
Location:3811 Beach Boulevard
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: St. Nicholas Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries associated with the historic African American communities of St. Nicholas, Philips, and Larsen/Pine Forest of South Jacksonville. Other associated community names include Spring Glen, Spring Park, Hogan, and Southside. The cemetery was referenced in a 1910 deed, but an older section has burials that predate the deed. This section was associated with the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Spring Park, founded in 1874. Because of the cemetery’s long history, St. Nicholas has a large variety of grave types, materials, and symbolism. The most common types of funerary art are headstones made of marble, granite, cement, and cast stone. Some markers are homemade from cement, often decorated with ceramic tiles, and with inscriptions engraved by hand. The cemetery includes approximately 974 identifiable graves. At least seven black veterans from the 21st, 33rd, and 34th United States Colored Troops are buried in the cemetery. According to oral tradition, the cemetery’s older section was donated by the Francis Richard family, who received a 16,000-acre land grant in the area during Florida’s Second Spanish Period (1783-1821).
Sponsors: F/V Christopher's Joy, Inc., St. Nicholas Cemetery Association and the Florida Department of State
SAWPIT BLUFF PLANTATION
Location:15770 Sawpit Rd.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Side 1: Sawpit Bluff Plantation, located on Black Hammock Island, was built in the 1750s by Edmund Gray. The plantation was named for the sawpit excavated to accommodate the up and down motion of a vertical saw blade. The plantation house was constructed of tabby, an early building material made from shells, sand, and lime. During the American Revolutionary War in the British colonial period, an invasion force composed of Continental Army soldiers and Georgia militia encamped at Sawpit Bluff and engaged in fighting on May 14, 1777. Known as the Battle of Sawpit Bluff, and part of the larger Battle of Thomas Creek, this skirmish was one of the few battles of the Revolutionary War fought in Florida. The invading soldiers were forced to retreat after an attack by the loyalist East Florida Rangers and their Creek Indian allies. After the return of East Florida to Spain in 1783, Black Hammock Island was part of a land grant made to Juan Thorp. Thorp established a large estate on the island, called "Sawpit Bluff'” or "Barranco de Acceradero." Used for growing Sea Island cotton and for raising cattle and horses, the plantation later passed to his daughter, Mary Thorp Smith. Side 2: In 1801 and again in 1812, life on Sawpit Bluff was disrupted by conflicts between American settlers migrating south from Georgia and the Spanish colonial government. During the War of 1812, an American military force under the leadership of General George Matthews, invaded the region in quest of Spanish territory as part the conflict known as the Patriot’s War. The invaders stole a boat from the Smith family. After the war, the daughter of Mary Smith, Mary Martha, grew up at Sawpit Bluff Plantation and married Florida's fourth territorial governor, Robert Raymond Reid. During the Civil War, Mary Martha Reid was the Matron of the Florida Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Sawpit Bluff Plantation was also the childhood home of her sister Rebecca, wife of CSA General Joseph Finegan, who won the Battle of Olustee. Unable to keep up with the taxes on the property, Mary Smith lost the land, which fell into disuse and returned to swamp. It remained unchanged until the late 1970s. Little is left of the old house except a few tabby remains. This marker was erected in 2015 by Martha Reid 19, United Daughters of the Confederacy for the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States.
Sponsors: The Martha Reid Chapter 19, United Daughters of the Confederacy
ST. JOSEPH'S MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
Location:533 Dew Drop Street
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: This original sanctuary of the St. Joseph Missionary Baptist church is one of the few remaining institutional buildings directly associated with the old community of Hansontown. Originally a farming cooperative established for black Union soldiers, Hansontown was founded in 1866 by Dr. Daniel Dustin Hanson, a surgeon with the 34th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. Following Dr. Hanson’s untimely death in 1868, the communal farm declined. African Americans, however continued to move to Hansontown, which developed into a large, dense neighborhood. The congregation for the St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church assembled in 1930 under the leadership of Reverend Harrison Edwards. After meeting in several locations, the congregation purchased this plot of land in 1940 for the construction of the sanctuary, which was completed in 1950. Nearly all of the buildings in Hansontown were torn down for urban renewal projects in the early 1970s, but the church remained. Under Reverend H.T. Rhim, the congregation moved to a new location in 1985. This building still owned by St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church, continued to be used for mission outreach.
Sponsors: The City of Jackonsville
PILOT TOWN/ NAPOLEON BONAPARTE BROWARD
Location:9954 Heckscher Drive
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Side One: The St. Johns River provided trade access that supported the economy of the Fort George Island plantations. Cotton and sugar from the plantations were transported on the river to trading posts. Early Spanish seamen called the river Rio de Corrientas, or River of Currents, for its treacherous currents that plagued river travel. The shifting sandbar at the mouth of the St. Johns River was a significant impediment to ships. As river commerce on the St. Johns River grew, a community developed off Batten Island, which became known as Pilot Town. Pilot Town was inhabited mostly by harbor pilots and sea captains who made their living piloting ships through the currents to the Atlantic Ocean. These men, known as bar pilots, boarded ships and maneuvered them around the river’s shifting sandbar, and then helped guide them through the channel and up to Jacksonville. By 1877, Pilot Town became a landing used by tourists and visitors to visit the Fort George Island Hotel and inland attractions. A dock was built to accommodate steamers to Jacksonville, Charleston, and Savannah. Side Two: Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, Jr., was a bar pilot who became Florida’s 19th governor. As a young man, he worked on boats as a cook, fisherman, and seaman. In 1878, he took a job working tugboats on the St. Johns River and in 1883, he received his pilot’s license. Captain Broward became joint owner of a steamboat, the Kate Spencer, which bought visitors to the landing at Pilot Town. Broward was elected to the Jacksonville City Council in 1895, although he continued to work as a seaman and a bar pilot. In 1895, he built a seagoing tugboat, The Three Friends, with his brother. The tugboat carried munitions and Cuban expatriates on its maiden voyage to Cuba in 1896. Encouraged by Jacksonville’s Cuban community, Captain Broward commanded his boat on eight voyages through Spanish blockades to deliver arms and equipment to Cuban revolutionaries. He was pursued by U.S. authorities set on seizing his ship. In 1897, The Three Friends turned to peacetime freight and passenger business, and Broward and his wife bought a summer house in Pilot Town. Broward was elected Florida governor in 1905. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1910, but died before taking office.
Sponsors: Fort George Island Marina, LLC
DOUGLAS ANDERSON SCHOOL
Location:2445 San Diego Road
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: In 1922, the Duval County Board of Public Instruction opened South Jacksonville School No. 107, the only public school on the southside of Jacksonville for African-American children in grades one through nine. Spearheading the building of this school were black community leaders Douglas Anderson (1884-1936) and W.R. Thorpe (1893-1967). Anderson, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, began the first free school bus transportation service for the school and was president of the Parents-Teachers Association. In 1945, the school board renamed the school the Douglas Anderson School. It became a high school in 1955 and quickly became an educational and cultural center for African-Americans from communities all over southeastern Duval County. Community envolvement was the strength of the school. Even though high school enrollment never exceeded 400-500 students, they achieved prominence in academics, athletics, and the arts far beyond their numbers. Douglas Anderson School closed in 1968 as a result of school desegregation. Afterwards, it served as a campus for Florida Junior College, and a 7th grade center. It re-opened in 1985 as the Douglas Anderson School for the Arts.
Sponsors: The Douglas Anderson Alumni Association, Faculty, Parents and Community Friends, and the Florida Department of State
OLD BREWSTER HOSPITAL
Location:Monroe St. at Davis St.
County: Duval
City: LaVilla
Description: Built in 1885 as a private residence, Old Brewster Hospital and Nursing Training School was the first medical facility to serve Jacksonville’s African-American community. Located in the LaVilla neighborhood, the hospital opened in 1901 through the efforts of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Matilda Cutting Brewster of Danielson, Connecticut, donated $1,000 in honor of her late husband, the Rev. George A. Brewster, to help start the hospital. Brewster Hospital was sponsored by the nearby Boylan Industrial Home and School, a private institution for African-American girls. One of the earliest nursing training programs in Florida, its students were welcomed by the community and made 1,230 house calls in 1901. The hospital soon outgrew its first facility, and in 1910 relocated to a different part of LaVilla. By 1931, it was located in a large brick building on North Jefferson Street in the Old Sugar Hill neighborhood. With the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Brewster Hospital closed in 1966 and reopened in 1967 as the Methodist Hospital. In 2005, the Old Brewster Hospital building was moved to its present location from its original site at 915 West Monroe Street.
Sponsors: x
AMERICAN RED CROSS VOLUNTEER LIFE SAVING CORPS AND STATION
Location:2 North Oceanfront
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville Beach
Description: In 1912, following the drowning of a prominent citizen, Dr. Lyman Haskell and Clarence MacDonald established and trained Florida’s first U.S. Volunteer Life Saving Corps (VLSC) at this location to protect the lives of bathers on Jacksonville Beach (then Pablo Beach). On April 17, 1914, the American National Red Cross chartered this unit of lifeguards as its first American Red Cross VLSC in the U.S., and the unit served as a training model for other beaches around Florida. The VLSC celebrated its 100th anniversary of uninterrupted volunteer service at this station in 2012 after recording more than 1,500 life-saving rescues and 1.3 million volunteer hours at the site. Since 1913, three permanent VLSC stations have stood here. The present station, constructed of concrete block and stucco in the Art Moderne style, was designed by architect Jefferson D. Powell and completed in 1948. Among the traditions of the VLSC is the Annual Ocean Marathon Swim, which has been sponsored continuously by the Meninak Club of Jacksonville since 1934.
Sponsors: The Meninak Club of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of State
VAN ZANT HOUSE
Location:5419 Woodcrest Road
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Musicians Ronnie, Donnie, and Johnny Van Zant spent their formative years growing up in this house with their sisters and parents between the 1950s and 1980s. A serendipitous foul ball hit by Ronnie Van Zant at a nearby park struck future bandmate Bob Burns in the head, knocking him unconscious. This chance encounter led to what would become one of the most famous, hardest working rock ‘n roll bands in the world, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Gold and platinum records from millions of album sales adorned the walls of this house while the band toured worldwide. Tragedy cut short the original incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd, when four members of the band, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, died in a plane crash in Mississippi on October 20, 1977, after their tour plane ran out of fuel. The surviving members of the band and crew were seriously injured. Ten years later, Johnny Van Zant took over as lead singer, and Lynyrd Skynyrd was reborn. Donnie Van Zant was a founding member and lead singer of the rock band .38 Special, a highly successful band in its own right. The Van Zants’ legacy, memorialized in this house, commemorate their prodigious contribution to the world of rock music.
Sponsors: Horizon Property Solutions, LLC
COMBAT TEAM CAMP ATLANTIC BEACH
Location:Jack Russell Park, Corner of Seminole Road and Plaza Drive
County: Duval
City: Atlantic Beach
Description: Constructed by the U.S. Army in 1942, Combat Team Camp Atlantic Beach was the headquarters of the Harbor Defenses of Jacksonville during World War II. The camp was tasked with defending Florida’s Atlantic coast from Axis invasion following the sinking of the tanker SS Gulfamerica off Jacksonville Beach and the capture of Nazi saboteurs in Ponte Vedra. The 149-acre camp was leased by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and supported rotating infantry and coastal artillery units. In its early days, the soldiers slept in tents on wooden platforms. Later, wooden huts housed six men each and had shutters that could be opened for ventilation. The 53rd Coast Artillery Regiment, which manned the four 155-mm long-range guns known as “Long Toms," was the camp’s anchor unit. The four artillery guns were flanked by 60-foot observation towers, though there are no visible remains today. The main camp was situated at present-day Selva Lakes and the gun placements were located at what is now Area 7 of Hanna Park. Although the camp never saw enemy action, it remained in service for 18 months until the U. S. military began a rapid reduction of its beach defense forces in 1944.
Sponsors: City of Atlantic Beach
SECOND MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH OF LAVILLA
Location:904 Kings Road
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: The founders of Second Missionary Baptist Church worshipped at Bethel Baptist Church with their slave masters in the 1830s. They built their first separate wooden sanctuary in 1848 in the African American neighborhood of LaVilla. The first sanctuary was destroyed by The Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901 that scoured more than 146 blocks and left nearly 9,000 people homeless. Church members worshipped at a new location and in 1930 built this brick sanctuary. Designed as a vernacular adaptation of the Late Gothic Revival Style, the sanctuary reflects the religious architectural form of the period with pitched gable roofs, massive towers framing the entrance, and ornate Gothic-arched stained glass windows. The church served as a refuge and source of strength during the racially segregated 19th and 20th centuries. Its members provided essential support for LaVilla businesses, schools, and the Brewster Hospital, the country’s first African American hospital. Church services, educational activities, and charity drives helped meet the social, spiritual, and physical needs of the community. This sanctuary is a reminder of the significant role the church played in the LaVilla community.
Sponsors: Reverend Kenneth J. and Sister Sheila F. Emanuel, Sr.
"MOTHER" MIDWAY A.M.E. CHURCH
Location:1462 Van Buren St.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Midway A.M.E. Church was organized on Sunday, June 10, 1865, a few weeks after the Confederate Army in Florida surrendered to the Union Army. It was thus the first black independent church organized in Florida. William G. Steward was sent to Florida by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and founded a church at Midway, a settlement east of Jacksonville, on his second day in the state. Mr. Steward appointed Brother G. B. Hill as the pastor of Midway Church before going on to organize congregations in middle Florida and in the panhandle section of the state. In later years Mr. Steward became involved in politics in Leon and Gadsden Counties and served a term in the Floirda Legislature. Midway Church is recognized as the "mother" of both the Florida Conference of the A.M.E. Church, organized in 1867 in Tallahassee, and of the East Florida Conference organized in Palatka in 1877. While the original church building is no longer standing, the congregation of "Mother" Midway has been in continuous existence since its founding.
Sponsors: sponsored by african methodist episcopal church of floridain cooperation with department of state.
JACKSONVILLE'S 1901 FIRE
Location:Duval St. at Hemming Plaza
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: On May 3, 1901 at 12:30 p.m., a fire began at the Cleaveland Fibre Factory, ten blocks northwest of this site. Chimney embers ignited sun-dried moss to be used as mattress stuffing. Fueled by wind and dry weather, the fire roared east destroying most structures in its path. By 3:30 p.m., the fire reached this site, then called Hemming Park. The park and its renowned live oaks were devoured by the flames and only the Confederate Monument survived, its base glowing red from heat. The fire continued an eastward march to Hogan’s Creek, where a citizens’ bucket brigade stayed the flames. Then, turning south, the inferno roared to Bay Street’s riverfront docks. Extreme heat caused a waterspout in the river where rescue boats trolled for survivors. The fire was so intense, black smoke clouds could be seen as far away as South Carolina. As flames moved west on Bay Street, the firefighters’ gallant stand and dying winds brought the fire under control by 8:30 p.m. In just eight hours, nearly 10,000 people were homeless, 2,368 buildings were lost, 146 city blocks were destroyed, but miraculously only seven people perished. Jacksonville’s 1901 Fire remains the most destructive burning of a Southern city in U.S. history.
Sponsors: THE JACKSONVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
1960 CIVIL RIGHTS DEMONSTRATION
Location:Monroe St. and N. Hogan St. in Hemming Park
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: On Saturday, August 27,1960, 40 Youth Council demonstrators from the Jacksonville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) advised by local civil rights leader Rutledge H. Pearson (1929-1967), sat in at the W.T. Grant Department Store, then located at the corner of West Adams and North Main Streets, and at Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store on Hogan Street across from Hemming Park. Seeking access to the whites-only lunch counters, the youths were met by 150 white males wielding axe handles and baseball bats. Many of the youths were injured while others sought safety at the adjacent Snyder Memorial Methodist Church. Although not the beginning of the Jacksonville civil rights movement, this conflict was a turning point. It awakened many to the seriousness of the African-American community’s demand for equal rights, equal opportunity, human dignity, and respect, and inspired further resolve in supporters to accomplish these goals. Within the decade, lunch counters were integrated, Duval County public schools began to desegregate, four African-Americans were elected to City Council, and segregation of public accommodations, including parks, restrooms, and water fountains ended.
Sponsors: Jacksonville Historical Society and the Florida Department of State
ABRAHAM LINCOLN LEWIS MAUSOLEUM
Location:Moncrief Road, Downtown Jacksonville
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Pioneer Abraham Lincoln Lewis (1865-1947) and others founded Florida’s oldest African-American insurance company, Afro-American Life in 1901, which spread throughout the South as far as Texas. In 1926, A.L. Lewis opened Lincoln Golf and Country Club where the famous visited, such as heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (1914-1981). Later Lewis founded American Beach, which in 1935 was a recreational haven for blacks during segregation. Although most noted for the Afro, A.L. Lewis started Florida’s first black-owned and operated bottling company and assisted Booker T. Washington in establishing the national Negro Business League. Throughout his life A.L. Lewis continued to serve as a dynamic leader in countless organizations such as the 33rd Masonic Order and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was a principle financial supporter. He also provided financial support to Edward Waters College and Bethune Cookman College. Interred in this nationally historic mausoleum, which was registered in 1997, are his immediate family and first wife, Mary Sammis Lewis (1865-1923), who was the great-granddaughter of Anna and Zephaniah Kingsley of Kingsley Plantation, today a national park on Fort George Island.
Sponsors: A.L. LEWIS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOR (EPISCOPAL)
Location:12223 Mandarin Road.
County: Duval
City: Mandarin
Description: Situated on the St. Johns on a portion of the Fairbanks Grant, this congregation was organized in 1867. The church was completed in 1883 under the Rev. C.M. Strugess, a mission priest assigned to the St. Johns Valley. The church was regularly attended by Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and the west window is a memorial to the Stowe family who were winter residents of Mandarin for many years.
DOOLITTLE'S 1922 RECORD FLIGHT
Location:Beach Boulevard near N. 5th St.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville Beach
Description: Florida's mild climate made it attractive to aviation pioneers. This area, known until 1925 as Pablo Beach, served as takeoff or terminal point for several early coast-to-coast flights, the first of which occurred in 1912 and required 115 days to reach Pablo Beach from Pasadena, California. On September 4, 1922, Army Lieutenant James H. ("Jimmy") Doolittle piloted a DeHavilland DH-4 biplane from Pablo Beach to San Diego in an elapsed time of 22 hours and 35 minutes. He made one stop during his flight for fuel, at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas. Doolittle's feat established a new speed record and helped demonstrate the practicality of transcontinental flight. Jimmy Doolittle remained active in aviation. During World War II, he led the first American bombing raid against the Japanese home islands, a daring stroke which provided a psychological lift to the nation's war effort.
Sponsors: sponsored by beaches area historical society in cooperation with
DUVAL COUNTY'S FIRST COURT
Location:East Forsyth Street.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Duval County, established August 12, 1822, and named for William Pope Duval, Florida's first civil governor, held its first court on December 1, 1823. Some 200 settlers gathered at the corner of Market and Forsyth Sts. to watch the session presided over by Judge Joseph Lee Smith. Construction of the first court house began two years later on the north east corner of this intersection.
Sponsors: Jacksonville Historical Society, Florida Historical Society and the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
FIRST SETTLERS AT RUBY, FLORIDA
Location:Beach Boulevard near N. 5th St.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville Beach
Description: In 1883 construction of the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad was begun to serve this undeveloped area. The track was narrow-gauge, running 16.54 miles from the south bank of the St. Johns River to the beach. The first settlers were William Edward Scull, a civil engineer and surveyor, and his wife Eleanor Kennedy Scull. They lived in a tent two blocks east of Pablo Historical Park. A second tent was the general store and post office. On August 22, 1884 Mrs. Scull was appointed postmaster. mail was dispatched by horse and buggy up the beach to Mayport, and from there to Jacksonville by steamer. The Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad company sold lots and housing construction began. The Sculls built the first house in 1884 on their tent site. The settlement was named ruby for their first daughter. On May 13, 1886 the town was renamed Pablo Beach. On June 15, 1925, the name was changed to Jacksonville Beach.
Sponsors: Sponsored by beaches area historical society, inc. centennial year in cooperation with department of state
FLORIDA’S FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY--1901-2001
Location:101 Union St E
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: The Afro-American Insurance Company, formerly the Afro-American Industrial and Benefits Association, was founded in 1901 to provide affordable health insurance and death benefits to the state’s African-Americans. Founded by the Reverend E.J. Gregg, E.W. Latson, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, A.W. Price, Dr. Arthur W. Smith, J.F. Valentine, and the Reverend J. Melton Waldron, the Afro’s first office at 14 Ocean Street was destroyed by the great Jacksonville Fire two months after it opened on May 3, 1901. It then moved to 621 Florida Avenue, the home of treasurer and future president, Abraham Lincoln Lewis (1865-1947). From their next home office at 105 E. Union Street, the company wrote millions of dollars of insurance policies and started district offices in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Lewis formed the African-American Pension Bureau and in 1935, land was purchased on Amelia Island for the black resort called American Beach. On April 22, 1956, the company dedicated its new, million-dollar building at Ocean and Union Street. After over 80 years of serving black southerners, the company closed on July 17, 1987. The 11th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church owns the Building.
Sponsors: A. L. LEWIS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
FORT GEORGE ISLAND
Location:off S.R. A1A, State Cultural Site.
County: Duval
City: Fort George Island
Description: Ft. George Island presents a cross-section of the Florida story. Timucuan Indians inhabited this island when French explorer Jean Ribault landed nearby in 1562. A Spanish mission was established here before 1600 to serve the Timucuans. Known to the Spanish as "San Juan," this island was renamed "St. George" by Georgia Governor James Oglethorpe. He built a fort- Ft. George- here in the 1730's during a British invasion of Spanish Florida. During the 2nd Spanish Period (1783-1821), three American planters in succession owned this island: Don Juan McQueen, John Houstoun McIntosh and Zephaniah Kingsley. Two plantation houses and the ruins of slave dwellings which remain from that period are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shortly after the Civil War, Ft. George Island was acquired by John F. Rollins. The island enjoyed brief popularity as a tourist resort during the 1880's. Competition from other tourist areas, yellow fever, and fire combined to end this era about 1890. The 1920's brought new prosperity to the island. Hecksher Drive, a road built by New Yorker August Hecksher, brought the automobile to the island. After World War II, a state park was created on a portion of historic Ft. George Island. Shortly after the Civil War, Ft. George Island was acquired by John F. Rollins of New Hampshire. He remodeled the Kingsley Plantation main house and called his new Florida residence the "Homestead." As postmaster, Rollins had the area's post office removed to nearby Batten Island to take advantage of river traffic on the ST. Johns. Although Ft. George Island could be reached only by boat, it became a popular tourist resort during the 1880's. There were new year-round residents as well. The construction in 1881 of St. George's Episcopal church signified the growth of the island's population. But by about 1890, the extension of the railroad along Florida's east coast combined with a yellow fever epidemic and destructive fire to end the tourist era on Ft. George Island. Later, during the Florida "Boom" of the 1920's, the island experienced new prosperity. Two fashionable clubs opened there, and a road - Hecksher Drive - built by New York millionaire August Hecksher brought the automobile to the island. After World War II, part of Ft. George Island became a state park, and tourists once again were attracted to this historic island.
Sponsors: sponsored by the jacksonville historical society in cooperation with department of state
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE HOME
Location:Mandarin Road 1.6 miles west of SR 13.
County: Duval
City: Mandarin
Description: In 1867, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband Calvin bought thirty acres of the Fairbanks Grant in Mandarin which served as their winter home until the winter of 1883-1884. The move to Florida was due to plans for philanthropy among the Negroes and a desire to benefit her son's health. While in Florida, Mrs. Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", wrote sketches called "Palmetto Leaves". The Stowes were active in local charitable and religious activities.
JAMES HALL-SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTION / JAMES HALL-DOCTOR OF MEDICINE
Location:Lomax Street.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Side 1: James Hall was born on October 8, 1760, in Keene, New Hampshire. Records of the Continental Army indicate that James Hall of Keene was mustered into service about August 20, 1776. Hall served throughout the Revolutionary War as an infantry soldier of the Continental Army line. New Hampshire units participated in the important campaign of the fall of 1777 which culminated in the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga on October 17, 1777. Hall continued to serve with the Continental Army as it endured the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. On June 28, 1778, he was in the ranks of Poor's Brigade at the battle of Monmouth where he participated in the final advance of the day in that "hottest day of battle". James Hall was promoted to sergeant on April 1, 1780. He served on through the war and was present at Yorktown in October, 1781, in Col. Alexander Scammell's Third New Hampshire Regiment. When the war ended, twenty-one year old James Hall was a full-time fighting patriot. Side 2: During the next two decades, James Hall became a doctor. At length, he decided to move to the Spanish territory of Florida. In 1790, Dr. James Hall, then aged thirty, settled near Cow Ford (now Jacksonville). He was the first known American physician to sustain the practice of medicine in Florida. In 1803, the first settler of Cow Ford, Robert Pritchard, died. Since his arrival in 1783, Pritchard had acquired considerable land holdings. These included seven hundred acres in the Goodby's Lake region and sixteen thousand acres on Julington Creek. Within the year of Robert Pritchard's, his thirty-six year old widow, Eleanor (nee Plummer) married the forty-four year old Doctor James Hall. The Halls made their home in what is now called Plummer's Cove. Here Dr. Hall sustained his practice until 1810, at the age of fifty, he was banished from East Florida by the Spanish for having participated in the "Florida-Georgia Rebellion." On February 22, 1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States, and in 1822 Doctor Hall returned to what had become Jacksonville. He continued his medical practice and was active in many community matters, such as testifying at Spanish Land Grant hearings. James Hall died at LaGrange, Florida (on Plummer's Cove) on December 25, 1837.
Sponsors: Sponsored by Sons of the American Revolution, The Daughters of the American Revolutions And The Duval County Medical Society In Cooperation With Department of State
JOESEPH E. LEE
Location:1424 E.17th St., the Joeseph E. Lee Child Develop
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Joseph E. Lee, one of Florida's most distinguished adopted sons, was born in Philadelphia in 1849. Shortly after obtaining a law degree from Howard University in 1873, Lee began to practice in Florida as Jacksonville's first black lawyer. Joseph Lee's achievements ranged over several aspects of public life. In 1874, he was elected to the Florida House of Represetatives, serving as a member of that body for six years before being elected to the State Senate in 1880 for one term. The Republican party nominated Lee as a delegate to the Florida Constitutional Convention of 1885. In 1888, he was elected Municipal Judge of Jacksonville, defeating two white candidates for the post. As a political leader and statesman, Lee's abilities were respected on the local, county, and state levels. He was a major force in the Republican Party of Florida for several decades. His leadership was recognized by national party figures as well. Lee received federal appointments as Customs Collector for the Port of St. Johns (1890-94, 1897-98) and as Collector of Internal Revenue (1898-1913). At the time of his death in 1920, he was a delegate to the upcoming national Republican convention. In additon to his wide political activities, Joseph E. Lee was also a leader in the religious and educational life of Jacksonville.
Sponsors: Sponsored by citizens for community action in cooperation with department of state
MAPLE LEAF
Location:North Bank Riverwalk at the foot of Hogan Street
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Approximately 15 miles up river from this point, the Union transport Maple Leaf was destroyed by a Confederate mine during the early morning hours of April 1, 1864. The Maple Leaf sank to the bottom of the St. Johns River after hitting one of twelve Confederate mines along Mandarin Point. At the time of the explosion, the steamboat was transporting 68 passengers and crewmembers from Palatka to Jacksonville. Passengers included 42 Union sympathizers seeking protection of federal troops in Jacksonville. Four crewmembers died in the explosion. After sinking, only the top of the wheelhouse and smokestack were visible. These parts were later removed to keep the channel clear for navigation. The hull with its valuable cargo had settled deep within the muddy river bottom. On the Maple Leaf were 400 pounds of cargo, primarily the equipment of three Union regiments and two brigade headquarters. In 1981the Maple Leaf was located by St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc. Hundreds of artifacts have been recovered from the site, which is now a National Landmark.
Sponsors: JACKSONVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MULBERRY GROVE PLANTATION
Location:Mustin Road in a housing area on the Jacksonville Naval Air Station base
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Although East Florida was under Spanish control from 1783 to 1821, English speaking settlers lived along the St. Johns River in the late eighteenth century. In 1787, the Spanish crown granted a large parcel of land to Timothy Hollingsworth, who named his plantation Mulberry Grove after trees native to the area. In 1805, Mulberry Grove was purchased by a Georgia planter named John H. McIntosh. In 1812, he became a leader in the so-called Patriot War, an attempt by U.S. citizens to seize East Florida from the Spanish. After these efforts failed, McIntosh returned to Georgia. During the next decades, cotton was grown on the plantation, which came to be owned by Joshua Hickman. Prior to the beginning of the Civil War, Arthur M. Reed, a Jacksonville businessman, purchased Mulberry Grove, and in 1862 took his family there to live when Union forces occupied the town. Oranges, cattle and many varieties of fruits and vegetables were produced on the plantation in the decades after the Civil War. The main house with an oak shaded avenue leading to the river was an attraction for excursionists travelling on the St. Johns. In 1939, the U.S. government acquired a portion of Mulberry Grove Plantation for the Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the colonial dames xvii century, hannah dustion chapter in cooperation with department of state
MUNGEN HOUSE
Location:508 Jessie St.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: This frame vernacular house was built in 1928 for Doane Martin Mungen, Sr. (1872-1948) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Mungen (1874-1955). It is located in the Oakland neighborhood, which was platted in 1869, and emerged in the 1870s as a working class community. The Mungens moved from 343 East Union Street to a wooded bungalow here that was demolished to build this 12-room house. With time, the rooms on the second level were rented. Later, inside stairs were removed, steps placed on the east, and the upstairs was rented as an apartment. Red bricks that form the columns, pier foundation, and chimney are from a demolished building in the downtown area. A large white stone at the curb of the front walk has rested there for 75 years. It once served as a step from horse-drawn buggies. Mr. Mungen planted a water oak on the east lawn and laurel on the west. D.M. Mungen, Jr. (1904-1936), eldest son of five, sent money from Tallahassee where he worked as a chef in the Floridan Hotel, now demolished. The only daughter, Sylvia Amanda Mungen (1903-1996), a Duval County teacher for 42 years, lived here until 1990. The house is one of a few left of its era in the area representing African-Americans of upward mobility.
Sponsors: The Mungen Family and the Florida Department of State
SITE OF COW FORD
Location:Bay Street on grounds of Courthouse.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: This narrow part of the St. Johns River, near a clear freshwater spring was a crossing point for Indians and early travelers. The Indian name Wacca Pilatka, meaning "Cow's Crossing", was shortened by the English to Cow Ford, and Jacksonville was known by this name for many years. This crossing was used by the English when they made an old Timucuan Indian Trail into King's Road.
SITE OF MISSION OF SAN JUAN DEL PUERTO (ST. JOHN OF THE PORT)
Location:Replaced
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Founded by the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in the latter part of the 16th century, this mission was in operation for more than 100 years. It was here that Father Francisco Pareja wrote books in the language of the Timucuan Indians. In time, the mission gave its name to the island and the river. Philadelphia Quaker, Jonathan Dickinson, passed through here in 1696 and recorded that he found in the center of the island "the town of St. Wan's, a large town and many people; they have a friar and a worship-house. The people are very industrious, having plenty of hogs and fowls, and large crops of corn." The mission was destroyed in 1702 during a raid from South Carolina, then a British colony.
Sponsors: Jacksonville Historical Society in Cooperation with Department of State, Bureau of Historic Preservation
SITE OF THE MISSION OF SAN JUAN DEL PUERTO
Location:Fort George Rd. Fort George Island,
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: The establishment of missions chiefly for the purpose of Christianizing the Indian population was one of the methods used by Spain in attempting to colonize Florida in the sixteenth century. The Mission of San Juan del Puerto was founded late in the 1500's by the Franciscan Order of friars to serve the Timucuan Indians living in the area. While working at this mission around 1600 Father Francisco Pareja prepared a Timucuan dictionary, grammar and several religious books in that language for use by the Indians. The Mission of San Juan del Puerto continued to exist throughout the seventeenth century in spite of the growing conflict between Florida's Spanish inhabitants and English and French invaders. In 1696, Jonathan Dickinson, a Philadelphia Quaker who had been shipwrecked off the coast of Florida, passed this way and recorded a visit to "the town St. Wan's, a large town and many people." In 1702, Governor James Moore of the British Colony of South Carolina attempted to take St. Augustine from the Spanish. His effort failed, but in the process of the raid into Spanish territory, Moore destroyed the Spanish missions from St. Augustine northward, including the Mission of San Juan del Puerto.
Sponsors: Sponsored By Jacksonville Historical Society In Cooperation With Department of State
SS GULF AMERICA
Location: 11 N. 3rd St., Jacksonville
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: This marker commemorates the attack on the USS Gulfamerica on April 10, 1942, during World War II (1941-1945) by a German U-boat just off the coast of Jacksonville Beach. The Gulfamerica, a merchant marine vessel, was on her maiden voyage from Port Arthur, Texas to New York carrying 90,000 barrels of fuel oil. It was one of the first merchant vessels to be fitted with weapons and carried seven naval armed guards in addition to its crew of 41 men. German U-boat, U-123, first fired a torpedo, striking the Gulfamerica on her starboard side; then maneuvered between the vessel and the shore to shell the tanker with its deck gun in full view of spectators on the boardwalk in Jacksonville Beach. Captain Oscar Anderson of the Gulfamerica ordered the ship to be abandoned. There was great confusion while loading the lifeboats and 19 men were killed, by drowning or from shellfire. The Gulfamerica and its cargo of oil burned for several days before sinking. Today the wreck sits in 60 feet of water, 4 ½ miles from the Jacksonville Beach coastline. In response to the sinking of the Gulfamerica, Florida Governor Spessard Holland declared a blackout of coastal areas to prevent the silhouetting of passing ships.
Sponsors: THE CITY OF JACKSONVILLE BEACH AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
ST. GEORGE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Location:Ft. George Rd. Between Palmetto Ave. and Admiral Blue Rd.
County: Duval
City: Fort George Island
Description: St. George Episcopal Church, designed by Robert S. Schuyler and built in 1882, is a fine example of Carpenter Gothic, one of the most distinctive varieties of church architecture. Such churches were promoted by Florida’s second bishop, John Freeman Young (1820-1885) just after the Civil War. Bishop Young divided north Florida into regions defined by major water bodies. These churches along the St. Johns River included St. George Episcopal Church on Ft. George Island. Using local materials and craftsmen, Carpenter Gothic became the preferred form of church construction from 1867 to 1924. Gothic architectural characteristics are defined by: a steep gable roof, a narrow rectangular building shape, pointed lancet windows and a bell tower. New York architect R. Dennis Chantrell (1783-1872) best described this type of church as “a handsome church, which is a kind of standing sermon.”
Sponsors: THE ST. GEORGE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THE BEGINNING
Location:Interesction of Bay and Market st. at City Hall
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Here at the foot of Market St. stood a bay tree which served as the starting point for the original survey of Jacksonville in June 1822. Market was the first street laid off and named. A total of 20 squares were platted, bounded by Ocean, Duval, Catherine and Bay Sts. One of the first lots sold for $12 and was in the center of the present courthouse block.
Sponsors: Jacksonville Historical Society, Florida Historical Society and the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
THE HUGUENOT MEMORIAL SITE
Location:U.S. Highway A1A at Mayport Naval Air Station.
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: In 1562, when France was being torn by religious strife, Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France, sent two vessels to the New World in search of a refuge for the oppressed Huguenots. Leading the expedition was the Huguenot explorer, Jean Ribaut, who charted a new course across the Atlantic and arrived off the coast of Florida. On Friday, May 1, 1562, Ribaut's party first landed in the New World here on the east shore of Xalvis Island. In the presence of friendly Indians, the Frenchmen fell to the ground and gave thanks to God in the first Protestant worship service held in the New World. Ribaut sailed on up the coast where he founded the colonial settlement of Charlesfort-named in honor of his king. Charlesfort did not last and in 1562 a Huguenot settlement-Fort Caroline-was established on the St. Johns. There, sometime before 1565, the first Protestant white child was born in what is now the United States. On his second voyage to the Americas in 1565, Ruinate and his men were shipwrecked near St. Augustine. The bold explorer and most of his followers were cold-bloodedly murdered at Matanzas Inlet, near St. Augustine, by Spanish Governor Pedro Menendez, who feared the encroachment of France on Spain's Florida empire.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
THE CONTINENTAL HOTEL
Location:10 10th Street
County: Duval
City: Atlantic Beach
Description: In the late 19th century, Henry Flagler created the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) and the Florida East Coast Hotel Company, both of which significantly boosted development and tourism for Florida. By 1900, Flagler had purchased the local Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway. The line was expanded to create the Mayport Branch of the FEC. It was along this branch that Flagler opened up a luxury oceanfront hotel in 1901, the Continental Hotel of Atlantic Beach. Though it was considered one of the smaller and less ornate of Flagler’s line of winter resorts, the Continental Hotel boasted several attractions, including two of the area’s first golf courses and “automobiling” on the oceanfront. Previously, Atlantic Beach was one of the most remote areas of the Jacksonville Beaches. The arrival of the FEC and the Continental sparked development in the community of Atlantic Beach while creating a new tourism destination for Florida. The hotel was sold in 1913 to the Atlantic Beach Corporation, and was renamed the Atlantic Beach Hotel. The original hotel burned down in 1919, and a second was built on this site in the mid-1920s. Both hotels were a vital part of the community of Atlantic Beach for several decades.
Sponsors: The Beaches Area Historical Society, The Cloister Condominium Association
FORT HATCH
Location:800 Block of West Adams Street, Southeast Corner of West Adams and North Davis streets
County: Duval
City: Jacksonville
Description: Jacksonville was an important port on the St. Johns River during the Civil War. It changed hands four times, finally ending up under Union control. In 1864, determined to prevent the city from once again falling into Confederate hands, the Union Army encircled it with temporary fortifications, called breastworks. Maps and archaeological testing showed this site was the location of Fort Hatch, which housed one of nine gun batteries built to protect the city. The chest-high fortifications contained barracks, mess halls, medical facilities, and parade grounds. Fort Hatch was named in honor of General John P. Hatch (1822 - 1901), who commanded various Union operations in the South. President Grover Cleveland awarded him the Medal of Honor in 1893 for his efforts during the Antietam Campaign. Notable occupants of Fort Hatch included members of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, raised in 1863 as the first northern unit of African Americans following President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. The 54th grew to over 1000 men by May 1863, but by the battle of Olustee in 1864, the unit numbered about 500. The 54th retreated with other units to Fort Hatch after Union forces were routed at Olustee.
Sponsors: Cowford Archaeological Research Society, Jacksonville Historical Society
ORANGE PARK NORMAL AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL SITE
Location:2042 Park Avenue
County: Duval
City: Orange Park
Description: The 1885 Florida Constitution mandated the segregated education of black and white students in public schools. In 1891, the American Missionary Association (AMA) opened the private Orange Park Normal and Industrial School at this site to educate black students. It consisted of several buildings which housed classrooms, dormitories, and workshops. Due to the school’s success, white children began to attend. This attracted the attention of Florida’s Superintendent of Public Instruction William Sheats, a staunch segregationist. In response, he pushed the state legislature to pass a law in 1895 that prohibited any Florida school, public or private, from teaching black and white students together. The Orange Park Normal School was the only racially-integrated school in the state at that time. The AMA fought the law, and the case went to court, where Judge R.M. Call ruled against the State of Florida. Although the AMA won the case, the damage was done. Public sentiment against the school increased among whites. By 1917, the AMA closed the school. Although segregation persisted in Florida for another 50 years, this school was a pioneering example of integration in education.
Sponsors: The Town of Orange Park, Historical Society of Orange Park