Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Florida Black Heritage Trail, this area was established by former slaves, soon after the Civil War, as “Little Africa”. It is located on the southwest peninsula of St. Augustine and once had a thriving business district along Washington Street in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including churches and social institutions. Lincolnville has the largest collection of Victorian homes in St. Augustine.
Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center
Built in 1924, the Excelsior School was the first public high school for black students in St. Augustine. Two previous schools of lower grade levels occupied the site earlier. It is currently a museum of African American History.
Originally known as Florida Normal and Industrial Institute, it was St. Augustine’s first college. Located here from 1918 to 1968; it later relocated to Miami, Florida, where it is now a university. It was built on the Old Hanson Plantation which was once operated by slave labor. The only remnants of this college are a few walls and the entry gate at the corner of Holmes Boulevard and West King Street.
A National Historic Landmark, run by the Florida Park Service, it is the first legally sanctioned settlement of former slaves, established as the northern defense of St Augustine. It played a key role when the city was attacked by the British under General Oglethorpe in 1740.
Located at the east end of the Plaza de la Constitucion in downtown St. Augustine, it was one of the first municipal projects when St. Augustine became a part of the United States in the 1820s. It was built as a Market House and many things were sold here through the decades, including slaves. Following the Civil War, it was promoted as “The Old Slave Market” and in the 1960’s, it became a place for civil rights demonstrations that received national attention and led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Monson Motor Lodge
This was the only place in Florida where Martin Luther King was arrested-on June 11th, 1964, after he was refused service at the restaurant. The Monson Motor Lodge was also made famous after a manager poured acid into the swimming pool to scare away a group of swimmers trying to integrate the facility, drained it, and posted guards around it to keep out demonstrators. After being demolished in 2003, it is now the home of Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront Hotel. The steps where Dr. King was arrested have been preserved and marked across from the main entrance of the hotel.
After the Union took control of St. Augustine in 1862, this was one of the cities that the Emancipation Proclamation actually freed any slaves. To hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves gathered across from St. Joseph’s Convent (just south of 234 St. George Street) on a site that came to be known as “Liberation Lot.”
This school, which was racially segregated until the 1960s, has as its most famous alumnus musician, Ray Charles (1930-2004), who began going blind at age seven. Here he learned to play the piano and began a path towards making this a career. Other black students included another prominent musician, Marcus Roberts, and Cary White Sr. who is memorialized on campus at the Cary A. White Sr. Complex. Mr. White was the first black deaf graduate of the school in 1922 and following this, worked at the school for 46 years as a carpenter, mason, electrician, and vocational teacher.
This beach located on Anastasia Island, developed by St. Augustine’s leading black businessman, Frank Butler, is one of the historic African American beaches from the time of segregation. It is now a local park with a boat ramp, picnic tables, and restroom facilities.
Civil rights leader Henry Twine worked for many years in this building, when it originally served as the post office and Ralph Waldo Emerson attended a bible meeting here as a slave auction went on in the courtyard. He later wrote, “…almost without changing our position we might aid in sending the scriptures to Africa or bid for ‘four children without the mother who had been kidnapped there from.’”
This is the oldest brick school building in St. Augustine originally called St. Cecilia. The school was a gift in 1898 by Mother Katherine Drexell, a Philadelphia heiress (and relative of Jacqueline Kennedy) who was made a Catholic saint by Pope John Paul II in 2000. In 1916, three of the teaching nuns, Sister Mary Thomasine Hehir, Mary Scholastica, and Mary Beningus, were arrested for breaking a 1913 Florida law that made it illegal for white teachers to teach black students. The school closed in 1964, following integration at the local Catholic schools.
Henry L. Twine House
This is the home of Henry L. Twine (1923-1994) who spent his adult life working to better the African American community. He served as president of the local NAACP chapter during the 1970s and 1980s and chaired the meeting where Martin Luther King, Jr. first spoke in St. Augustine in 1964. He spent three terms as a city commissioner and two as St. Augustine’s first African American vice mayor.
His wife, Kat Twine (1925-2002), has been called the “Rosa Parks of Florida” going to jail early and often in the cause of civil rights. Both the street and a nearby park have been named in honor of the Twines.
Famous for the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston taught at Florida Normal College, now known as Florida Memorial College. She spent time with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at Castle Warden (now the location for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!). The house where she lived in 1942 is marked by a plaque at 791 West King Street.
Famous for leading the 1791 slave uprising in Haiti, Biassou became a decorated Spanish general. He became St. Augustine’s first black general when he was sent to St. Augustine in 1796. He lived at 42 St. George Street, worked at Fort Matanzas, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Tolomato Cemetery on Cordova Street.
Richard Aloysius Twine Sites
Known as the city’s first professional black photographer and one of the nation’s greatest black photographers, he documented the people and buildings of Lincolnville in the 1920s. The site of his home is located at 107 Kings Ferry Way and his studio was located at 62 Washington Street before he moved to Miami, Florida in the late 1920s.
Dr. Daniel W. Roberts Sites
Dr. Roberts is famous for his 20 years tending to the needs of people in the community at the first and only black hospital, Roberts Sanitarium, located at 80 Bridge Street, that was later torn down by the city to create a parking lot. He was the State Medical Association President and the first black doctor to operate at Flagler Hospital. He lived at 124 M. L. King Avenue and 86 Bridge Street. Stained-glass windows at St. Paul’s AME Church and Trinity Methodist Church honor him for his work.
John Papino House
A black councilman in 1902, he is famous for being shot by the white town marshal at a city council meeting, the act of terror that put an end to black office holders until the 1970s. His home is still standing at 95 M. L. King Avenue.
The Union controlled St. Augustine after 1862. The more than 1,000 ex-slaves (depicted in the Denzel Washington movie Glory) that fought to end slavery with the Union army were known as “U.S. Colored Troops” and many of their graves, marked by marble tombstones with “USCT” inscribed on them are located in St. Augustine’s historic cemeteries.
Home to the grave sites of many influential African American figures, this cemetery is located north of Evergreen Cemetery and King Street. Those buried there include Frank Butler, Reverend James Harvey Cooper, Cuter Eubanks, Dr. Nathan W. Collier, and Sarah Blocker.
A gift of Henry Flagler’s best friend, Dr. Andrew Anderson, in 1924, this location acted as a nursing home, community center, and library during the age of segregation. It was designed by the same architect as the Excelsior School, Fred Henderich.
This restaurant formally located on King Street was the site of the first lunch counter sit-in by Florida Memorial College students in 1960 and also where “The St. Augustine Four” were arrested in 1963. Following their arrest, these four teenagers were sent to jail and reform school for six months until a national outcry resulted in their release.