13 African American Historic Sites in Daytona Beach, Florida & Volusia County
By Florida Division of Historic Resources Staff
Mary McLeod Bethune's house and The African American Museum of the Arts can be found in Volusia County.
Florida has a rich and diverse history. African American landmarks and legacies exist in various locations throughout the state. The following historical sites can be found in Volusia County, with many African American sites in Daytona. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
Daytona Beach African American History
640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard
In 1904 Mary McLeod Bethune established the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. At the time, her only assets were $1.50 in capital and packing cases. Through her persistent efforts, Bethune received funding from several wealthy northern industrialists who wintered nearby, including Thomas H. White of White Sewing Machine Company and James Gamble of the Proctor and Gamble Company. In 1923, her girls’ school merged with the Jacksonville-based Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College. In February of 2007, the college was officially renamed Bethune-Cookman University. The campus of Bethune-Cookman University is home to several buildings and sites important to Daytona Beach African American history including White Hall, a two-story Georgian Revival style building on campus, was constructed in 1916. (386) 481-2000, www.bethune.cookman.edu.
Howard Thurman Home
614 Whitehall Street
This two-story frame vernacular structure, the childhood home of Dr. Howard Thurman, constructed circa 1888, was one of the first located on the street. Born in the home in 1900, Dr. Thurman lived there for some time. Dr. Thurman was known as a theological advocate of the unity of the human race. He became the first black dean at Boston University and then first dean at Rankin Chapel at Howard University in the District of Columbia. Thurman created, taught and wrote of a climate of action-oriented nonviolence that was later inherited and institutionalized by the Civil Rights Movement. His home is a must-visit on a tour of African American sites in Daytona.
Jackie Robinson Memorial Ball Park
105 East Orange Avenue
Baseball Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson played his first exhibition game as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers farm club at this park on March 17, 1946, professional baseball’s first integrated game. In 1947, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and made baseball history. Not only is this park an important part of African American history in Daytona Beach, but it's also a fun place to go. (386) 257-3172, www.daytonacubs.com
Mary McLeod Bethune House
640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd.
This simple two-story frame vernacular structure was the home of Mary McLeod Bethune from the time of its construction in 1913 until Dr. Bethune’s death in 1955. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, the house museum contains original furnishings and archives for the Mary McLeod Bethune papers. Visitors may tour the Mary McLeod Bethune Home and gravesite, and the guest bedroom in which her friend, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, stayed during a visit. (386) 481-2122, ext. 372.
DeLand African American Historic Sites
The African American Museum of the Arts
325 South Clara Avenue
Established in 1994 to enhance public appreciation of African American and Caribbean American cultures, today more than 150 pieces of art including sculptures and masks from countries of Africa are featured in the permanent gallery. (386) 736-4004, www.africanmuseumdeland.org.
J.W. Wright Building
258-264 W. Voorhis Avenue
This building was constructed in 1920 and designed by architect Francis Miller, who was active in the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The Wright Building is a two-story masonry vernacular structure. Until the 1960s, the building was a cornerstone of a bustling African American business and entertainment district.
Old DeLand Colored Hospital
230 N. Stone Street
The original masonry vernacular building constructed in 1926 was significant in the development of medical services for African American residents of Volusia County. The original building was replaced because of termite damage with a similar-looking one erected in the mid-1990s. A portion of the new building contains the Black Museum. (386) 740-5800, www.deland.org.
Centered around Voorthis, Euclid, Garfield, and Boston Avenue
The Yemassee area contains some of the oldest buildings (1890s through 1920s) associated with black residential neighborhoods in DeLand. Embodying Late Gothic Revival styling, the Greater Union Baptist Church was constructed at 240 South Clara Avenue in 1893.
Deltona African American Historic Sites
Garfield Avenue at Lakeshore Drive
Dating back to the late-19th to mid-20th century, an archeological survey of this African American cemetery has found 13 marked graves.
African American History in New Smyrna Beach
Highway A1A, 6 miles south of New Smyrna Beach
Educator Mary McLeod Bethune and other black investors purchased this ocean-front property in the 1940s to develop a black residential resort community and recreation area.
Black Heritage Museum
314 North Duss Street
The Old Sacred Heart/St. Rita (Colored) Mission Church building, constructed in 1899, was one of the few houses of worship for black Roman Catholics in this area, and the only one left standing. Moved to this site, the building now houses exhibits with more than 100 replicas of African American inventions, Florida East Coast Railroad artifacts and photographs from Chisholm High School, the first black school in Volusia county. (386) 478-1934.
Port Orange Sites
Freemanville Historic Site
3431 Ridgewood Avenue
A state historic marker recognizes this community settled in 1867 by freed slaves after the Civil War. On the second Tuesday in February each year, the City of Port Orange celebrates Freemanville Day, with historic reenactments. www.port-orange.org.
Mount Moriah Baptist Church
941 North Orange Avenue
The last building standing from the Freemanville community, a settlement of freed slaves. Built in 1911, it still serves as a place of worship for descendants of those original settlers.
Adapted from Florida Black Heritage Trail, published by the Florida Department of State, in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, copyright 2007. For more information on African American sites, please visit flheritage.com. Additional information can also be found at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/milesmedia/floridablackheritage/