The Florida Normal and Industrial Institute came to St. Augustine in 1918 originated through a merger of earlier two institutions dedicated to serving former slaves and their descendants. In 1941 the private historically Black school grew to become a four-year liberal arts institution, with its first class graduating in 1945. Students were active in the Civil Rights demonstrations in the city and organized a chapter of the NAACP on campus in 1961. The school’s name changed to Florida Memorial College in 1963. In 1965, with racial violence related to the city’s Civil Rights movement increasing, the college bought a tract of land in Dade County, moving to Miami in 1968.
The final remnant of the institution is the Abraham Lincoln Lewis Archway, named after the first Black millionaire in Florida. Lewis was a businessman and founded the Afro-American Life Insurance Company of Jacksonville, Florida in 1901. He also founded American Beach, a community listed on the National Register and became a prestigious vacation spot for Black people during the segregation period. Lewis paid for the arch’s construction, now located on the corner of Holmes Boulevard and West King Street. Initially on the opposite side of the street, the arch was moved in 2009 and restoration efforts began. The restored archway was officially dedicated in 2011 when Florida Memorial students and alumni gathered to remember the history of the school and honor AL Lewis’s legacy. In attendance was notable alum
North Holmes Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL 32084
ALBUQUERQUE LITTLE THEATRE
Fort Mose Historic State Park is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose for short, as a settlement for those fleeing slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas. Over the next 25 years, Fort Mose and Spanish Saint Augustine became a sanctuary for Africans seeking liberation from the tyranny of English slavery.
For half a century, visitors to St. Augustine have made the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Visitor Information Center their first stop upon arriving in the Nation’s Oldest City. Commonly known as the “VIC,” the center offers information on special and cultural events, brochures and guidebooks for the area's attractions, clean restrooms, a gift shop. The VIC is staffed with friendly fully licensed tour guide hosts who gladly share information on attractions, museums, tours, accommodations, restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. The VIC is where a St. Augustine vacation begins, whether you plan to stay a day, a weekend or longer.