From the formation of America’s first free slave colony at Fort Mose to the civil rights demonstrations that changed everything, it’s no wonder St. Augustine has been named one of Visit Florida’s “Must-Sees” for African-American History and Culture. In the heart of downtown St. Augustine stands Lincolnville – A neighborhood steeped in hundreds of years of African-American history.
When you step through the doors of the Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center, you’ll be transported to another time. One where you can see and hear the stories of those who helped shape the city and change the face of the country. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find when you visit the Lincolnville Museum:
From the moment you enter the museum, you’ll find yourself transported more than 450 years in the past, to the area’s African roots. A nearby archeological dig uncovered a mass grave, and it was discovered, through testing, that some of the grave’s inhabitants were African – Placing them in the region before the city’s founding.
Around the corner of the main hall, you’ll be greeted with six large photographs taken by artist Robert Aloysius Twine (1898 – 1974). From socialites and children at play to business owners and preachers, Twine showcased the lives of the descendants of slaves and preserved the stories of the crusaders, pioneers and provocateurs who resided in Lincolnville.
A digital exhibit nearby gives visitors access to more images and information on the lives of Lincolnville’s early residents.
Staged exhibits are on display throughout the museum, giving visitors a firsthand look at life in Lincolnville. Common living room setups and grocery market replicas, inspired by photographs and firsthand accounts of life in Lincolnville, will make you feel like you truly stepped into the past.
Nestled in the back room of the museum, you’ll find a space dedicated to local churches, where visitors can sit down and bask in the sense of calm and peace the area provides. Window displays designed to look like stained glass highlight the unique history of St. Augustine’s local churches and add to the sensory experience.
From staging some of the first sit-ins at the lunch counter of Woolworth’s to segregation protests alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Augustine was at the forefront of the American civil rights movement. A large room in the museum is dedicated to the stories of triumph and courage
that led directly to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
As you round the corner, one final stop brings you to an exhibit inspired by entertainment. The room is filled with treasures, stories and photographs from St. Augustine’s nightlife, including the famed Odd Fellows Hall. Odd Fellows Hall became part of the Chitlin Circuit, which gave Ray Charles, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Billie Holiday and others a start in the industry.
A piano played by Ray Charles, a student at St. Augustine’s Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, is on display here.
Click here for more information on St. Augustine’s rich African-American history.