The Story of Lincolnville

Founded in 1866 by former slaves, the Lincolnville Historic District is St. Augustine’s most prominent historically black neighborhood.

October 13, 2020

Settled by newly-freed slaves after the Civil War, and named for President Lincoln, the Lincolnville Historic District neighborhood played a pivotal role in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. On June 9, 1964, Civil Rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in St. Augustine during a protest for human rights. Alongside King was Rev. Andrew Young, who led a night march from Lincolnville to the Plaza de la Constitucion, where he was met with violent opposition. His courageous walk is memorialized in brass footsteps at the Plaza with the Andrew Young Crossing, where visitors can walk in his footsteps. The Plaza in the center of town is also home to the bronze Foot Soldiers Memorial, built in remembrance of those who protested peacefully during the turbulent 1960s.

Lincolnville is home to the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center where visitors can learn about the more than 450 years of Black history stretching from the empires of West Africa, to early colonial Florida and up to the 20th century. Located in what was once the Excelsior School, which served as the first public black high school, the Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center continues its mission to preserve and promote African American history through art, educational programs, lectures, live performances, oral histories, and immersive exhibits.

While the Museum is currently closed, you can still experience the journey of black Americans through virtual tours that tell the story of some of the people and events that changed history in St. Augustine. For instance, Frank Butler, a resident of Lincolnville, was instrumental in making sure that black citizens had a place where they could enjoy the beach, otherwise excluded from whites-only beaches.

If you’re on the trail for more African American history in Lincolnville, a self-guided tour of the ACCORD Freedom Trail is both inspiring and enriching. Thirty-one historic markers along the trail identify various sites that played a significant role in the Civil Rights movement in St. Augustine.

Through these trails and personal journeys, you will discover that, indeed, the road to black history runs through Lincolnville.

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