Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Suwannee





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Suwannee

SUWANNEE COUNTY
Location:200 Ohio Ave S at County Courthouse
County: Suwannee
City: Live Oak
Description: This region was originally the land of the Timucuan Indians. Suwannee County was created in 1858. The county seat was moved from its original site at Houston to Live Oak in 1868 because of the latter's superior geographical position and railroad facilities. Settled by people from the upper South, the county soon became an important agricultural region. It is bounded on the north, west, and south by the Suwannee River.
STEAMBOATING ON THE SUWANNEE RIVER
Location:intersection of U.S. 27 and Ivey Memorial Park Drive
County: Suwannee
City: Bradford
Description: In the late 19th century, steamboats docked regularly at the old depot in Branford (originally called Rowland's Bluff) when the settlement was a major port on the Suwannee River. From here the steam powered vessels carried the region's cotton, lumber, and naval stores to market. In 1882, the depot also became the terminus for the Live Oak and Rowland's Bluff Railroad. Steamboat traffic ended on the Suwannee before 1920, but the depot continued in use as a railroad station for many years. The wrecks of the steamboats "Madison", the "City of Hawkinsville" and others that lie on the river's bottom are reminders of a vanished era. In 1982, the Branford Shrine Club purchased the depot from the S.C.L Railroad and moved it to its present site for use as a club house and community center.
Sponsors: THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THE DOUGLASS CENTER
Location:112 Douglas Street Southwest
County: Suwannee
City: Live Oak
Description: Side One: This is the site of the Douglass Center, a consolidated school complex that offered elementary, junior, and high school level classes to African American students. The center’s origin can be traced back to the Reconstruction era. Public education for African Americans in Suwannee County began in 1869 with the formation of two schools, one in the town of Live Oak and the other in unincorporated Houston. The Live Oak school was renamed after famous African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and located on the west side of South Houston Avenue. This school occupied a two-story wooden building and was only open from June through September. A second school, also named after Douglass, was built in the 1920s. Donations from the African American community, combined with matching funds from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, financed the construction of a single-story brick school house on the east side of South Houston Avenue. In 1939, it was the first African American school in Live Oak to offer high school level classes. The school built on this site was the third in the district to be named after Douglass. Construction began in 1950 on the new 30-classroom school facility that housed grades one through twelve. Side Two: The new school was operational for the 1956/1957 school year. The campus featured a music room, teacher's lounge, office space, clinic, cafeteria, library, chemistry lab, and agricultural and homemaking departments. The physical education department had locker rooms with showers, and offered multiple athletic programs, including football, basketball, baseball, and softball. After the acquisition of school buses, many rural African American students gained access to a high school education. In 1965, construction on a new gymnasium was completed, the first one for an African American school in Suwannee County. With the integration of Florida’s public schools, Douglass School graduated its final high school class in 1969, the last segregated class to graduate in Suwannee County. The school then served as Suwannee Middle School until 1990. It was renamed the Douglass Center and used as an alternative school until 2006. The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners acquired the campus in 2008 and adapted it to a community center. The Douglass Center is the last publicly-owned, historically African American school site in Suwannee County, and remains a vital part of the Live Oak community.
EDWARD WATERS COLLEGE ORIGINAL SITE
Location:Glass Street NE and Clay Street NE along Lisle Avenue NE
County: Suwannee
City: Live Oak
Description: Live Oak was the birthplace of Edward Waters College, Florida’s oldest black college. Here, the Rev. Charles H. Pearce, Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, envisioned an institution to educate newly-freed slaves. In 1866, aided by the Rev. William G. Steward, Florida’s first AME pastor, Pearce raised funds for a school offering elementary, high school, college, and seminary level education. In 1870, the AME Church resolved to expand Pearce’s school. Live Oak was chosen for the school site in 1872 due to its proximity to railroads, and 10 acres of land was purchased for the construction. Named Brown Theological Seminary, the school was renamed in 1873 to Brown University. The school relocated to Jacksonville in 1883, and in 1892, was renamed Edward Waters College in honor of the Florida AME Church’s third bishop. Edward Waters College operates in Jacksonville but its roots are here in Live Oak at the site of its first building. For over 150 years, the college has played a significant role in higher education in northeast Florida, which is embodied in its alma mater, “Dear ole Edward Waters College, you’re the world to me.”
Sponsors: Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., Bishop of the 11th Episcopal District, Tony D. Hansberry, Presiding Elder, 11th Episcopal District, Dr. Nathaniel Glover, President, Edward Waters College, Malachi Beyah, President, Jacksonville Alumni Chapter, Lillie M. Vereen, Event Chair, Alumnae, The Jacksonville Alumni Chapter