Lincolnville Historic District

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Lincolnville Historic District
St Aug Lincolnville house04.jpg
House in the district
Lincolnville Historic District is located in Florida
Lincolnville Historic District
Location St. Augustine, Florida United States
Coordinates 29°53′5″N 81°18′52″W / 29.88472°N 81.31444°W / 29.88472; -81.31444Coordinates: 29°53′5″N 81°18′52″W / 29.88472°N 81.31444°W / 29.88472; -81.31444
Area 1,400 acres (5.7 km2)
NRHP Reference # 91000979[1]
Added to NRHP November 29, 1991

The Lincolnville Historic District, established by freedmen following the American Civil War and located on the southwest peninsula of the "nation's oldest city," St. Augustine, Florida, is a U.S. Historic District (designated as such on November 29, 1991). The district is bounded by Cedar, Riberia, Cerro and Washington streets and DeSoto Place.

At the time of its National Register listing, it contained 548 historic buildings, but the city of St. Augustine engaged in extensive demolitions in Lincolnville in the 1990s. The number of surviving historic buildings was markedly reduced. Since the turn of the 21st century, the city has sought more demolitions to enable redevelopment of the area.

History[edit]

The community was established after the American Civil War in 1866 by freedmen when Peter Sanks, Matilda Papy, Harriet Weedman, Miles Hancock, Israel McKenzie, Aaron DuPont and Tom Solana leased land for $1.00 a year on what was then the west bank of Maria Sanchez Creek, across from the developed part of St. Augustine. The rest of the peninsula consisted of orange grove plantations: the Dumas plantation "Yalaha" (Seminole word for orange) at the northern end and "Buena Esperanza" (Spanish for "Good Hope") plantation at the south.

The freedmen originally called their settlement Africa, or Little Africa. After streets were laid out in 1878, it came to be known as Lincolnville (in the 1860s the northwest corner of modern Lincolnville was a 5-acre (20,000 m2) orange grove owned by Abraham Lincoln's private secretary, John Hay. He later served as Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt). Over the decades the settlement was expanded from this northeast area, around present-day Washington, Oneida, Dumas, St. Francis, St. Benedict and DeHaven streets, and developed the entire peninsula. It was characterized by narrow streets, small lots, and houses built close to the street line, similar to the colonial St. Augustine style and land-use pattern.[2]

When Standard Oil magnate Henry Flagler came to St. Augustine in the 1880s, he redeveloped the city to serve as a "Winter Newport," a resort for the wealthy. His changes also affected Lincolnville. He filled in the northern reaches of Maria Sanchez Creek to create high ground for development (the landfill included dirt with archeological remains excavated from the site of Fort Mose). His Standard Oil partner William Warden dredged the southern part of the creek to create what is now Maria Sanchez Lake. This expanded the eastern boundary of Lincolnville to the Ponce de Leon Barracks at 172-180 Cordova Street, now considered one of the historic district's major buildings. It was used for housing for servants and other workers at Flagler's hotels.

Some of the African-American waiters from the hotels formed America's first professional black baseball team. When they played locally, they were known as the Ponce de Leon Giants; when they played in the North, they were known as the Cuban Giants. One member of the team, Frank Grant, was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jacksonville native and nationally known writer James Weldon Johnson wrote about the baseball team in his 1933 autobiography Along This Way.

In the 1940s the Flagler estate converted the Barracks to the Lakeside Apartments and restricted tenants to whites only under state segregation laws. In the 21st century, the building was renovated and redeveloped for condominium sales, with no mention of its interesting history.

During the mid-20th century Civil Rights era, Lincolnville was the base of activists who struggled for the end of racial segregation in schools and public facilities in St. Augustine. Subject to rising Ku Klux Klan violence, in 1964 local activists appealed for help to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and activists from other parts of the country came to join local activists in non-violent protests. Hundreds were arrested and filled the jails; their struggle brought national attention to the issues and aided Congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Recognition and redevelopment[edit]

After the end of legal segregation, some African Americans began to move to other areas of newer, suburban housing, joining the major postwar trend in the United States. Related changes reduced employment in this area and population, but the city wanted to recognize the rich history and architectural resources. In 1991 the Lincolnville Historic District was documented and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bounded by Cedar, Riberia, Cerro and Washington streets and DeSoto Place, it contained 548 historic buildings.

At the same time, migration to Florida from other parts of the country increased. The city of St. Augustine supported demolition of deteriorating buildings in order to redevelop some of the Lincolnville area, and numerous historic buildings were taken down. In the 21st century, redevelopment pressure has continued, as new development is yielding higher rates of profit.

See also[edit]

St. Benedict the Moor School

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - Florida (FL), St. Johns County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-15. 
  2. ^ Travel: "Lincolnville, Florida", National Park Service

External links[edit]