Lincolnville Historic District
Lincolnville Historic District
House in the district
|Location||St. Augustine, Florida United States|
|Area||1,400 acres (5.7 km2)|
|NRHP Reference #||91000979|
|Added to NRHP||November 29, 1991|
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The Lincolnville Historic District, covering 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. It contained 548 historic buildings at the time of its National Register listing, but the city of St. Augustine engaged in extensive demolitions in Lincolnville in the 1990s so the number of surviving buildings has decreased markedly. The city is seeking more demolitions in the 21st century to allow redevelopment.
The community was established after the American Civil War in 1866 by freed slaves, 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 (the northwest corner of modern Lincolnville was a 5-acre (20,000 m2) orange grove owned in the 1860s by Abraham Lincoln's private secretary, John Hay—later Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt). Over the decades the settlement expanded from the northeast corner, around present-day Washington, Oneida, Dumas, St. Francis, St. Benedict and DeHaven streets (noted for narrow streets, small lots, and houses built close to the street line, in lineal descent from colonial St. Augustine style and land-use pattern) to embrace the entire peninsula.
When Standard Oil magnate Henry Flagler came to St. Augustine in the 1880s and redeveloped the city as a "Winter Newport," his changes affected Lincolnville. He filled in the northern reaches of Maria Sanchez Creek to create high ground for development (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 black waiters from the hotels formed America's first professional black baseball team. When they played here, they were known as the Ponce de Leon Giants, and 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 James Weldon Johnson wrote about the baseball team in his 1933 autobiography Along This Way.
In the 1940s the Flagler estate had the Barracks converted to the Lakeside Apartments (restricted under segregation for whites only). In the 21st century, it was redeveloped as a condominium, 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 segregation in schools and public facilities. Subject to rising Ku Klux Klan violence, local activists appealed for help to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1964, and 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.
- "National Register of Historical Places - Florida (FL), St. Johns County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-15.
- National Park Service; Lincolnville
- St. Johns County, FL listings, National Register of Historic Places
- We Shall Overcome—Lincolnville Historic District, National Park Service
- Freedom Trail of Historic Sites of the Civil Rights Movement