Florida Stories: A Walking Tour of Fort Pierce

    Tom Scherberger

    Want to explore the cultural, historical, and architectural treasures of Fort Pierce, Fla.? There’s an app for that.

    Just go to Florida Stories Walking Tours, and download the app created by the Florida Humanities Council.

    With this app you can learn, at your own pace and on your own schedule, what some of Florida’s most unique towns and cities have to offer.

    Here’s an overview of what you can experience via the Fort Pierce app:

    Where: Lincoln Park, Fort Pierce
    Number of stops: 12
    Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
    Author: Kristin G. Congdon, Ph.D., University of Central Florida professor and past president of the Florida Folklore Society
    Start: Granny’s Kitchen and Banquet Hall (901 Avenue D)

    Overview

    The history of the Lincoln Park neighborhood as told through the lens of its most famous resident, author Zora Neale, and the Florida Highwaymen, 26 African American Fort Pierce artists whose colorful paintings of Florida landscapes were sold from the trunks of their cars during the 1960s through the 1980s for very little money and now sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

    Like many black neighborhoods in Florida, Lincoln Park grew out of Florida’s Jim Crow past as the center of an African-American culture that Hurston celebrated in such books as “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

    After segregation, Lincoln Park went through hard times but is now experiencing a revitalization, with an eye on its rich cultural history.

    Highlights

    Hassie Russ, a student of Zora Neale Hurston’s at Lincoln Park Academy, has been dishing up soul food at Granny’s Kitchen and Banquet Hall based on her grandmother’s recipes since 1975.Granny’s has become one of the centers of the Lincoln Park community.

    Moore Creek Linear Park includes two historical markers devoted to Harold Newton, one of the founding members of the Florida Highwaymen, and Mary Ann Carroll, the only woman among the 26 Highwaymen who was mentored by Newton. (She referred to herself as a Highwaywoman).

    The Zora Neale Hurston house, 1734 Avenue L, is where the famous Harlem Renaissance writer lived from early 1958 to late 1959 almost until her death in a Fort Pierce hospital several week later; it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Sarah’s Memorial Garden is Hurston’s final resting place in a grave that was unmarked until 1976, when author Alice Walker placed a headstone declaring Hurston “The Genius of the South.”

    Quotable

    “We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. If they do, it is our duty as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children. If necessary, bone by bone.” -- Alice Walker on why she erected a grave marker for Zora Neale Hurston.

    Fun Fact

    Florida Highwaywoman Mary Ann Carroll presented a painting of a Royal Poinciana tree in Fort Pierce to then-First Lady Michelle Obama during the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., in May 2011.

    Things to Do

    A trip to Fort Pierce Inlet State Park will give you breathtaking views of a half-mile beach, with swimming, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, plus excellent birdwatching at nearby Dynamite Point, training site for WWII Navy Frogmen.

    Heathcote Botanical Gardens is features specialty gardens, including a rainforest display, and it’s pet friendly.

    Granny’s Kitchen and Banquet Hall is not just the first stop of the tour; it’s a great place to tuck into some real Southern cuisine.

    The Bluewater Beach Grill offers a seaside view with simply prepared seafood.

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