Florida Stories: A Walking Tour of St. Augustine

    Tom Scherberger

    Want to explore the cultural, historical, and architectural treasures of St. Augustine, 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 St. Augustine app:

    Where: Lincolnville, St. Augustine
    Number of stops: 10
    Total time: 90 minutes
    Author: Susan Parker, Ph.D., Executive Director, St. Augustine Historical Society
    Start: Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center

    Overview

    Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the United States.

    With all that history, it’s easy to overlook the concentration of Victorian-era homes southwest of the Bridge of Lions and the Cathedral Basilica.

    Lincolnville, formed by freed slaves after the Civil War, was a thriving middle-class community of black property owners during the Jim Crow era of segregation in the early 20th Century and became a hotbed of the Civil Rights Movement.

    You can check out other aspects of St. Augustine through Florida Stories Walking Tours: Colonial period, the Gilded Age and the area South of the Plaza.

    Highlights

    The tour starts at the former Excelsior High School, now the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, many of whose alumni became leaders of the local Civil Rights movement.

    St. Benedict the Moor School is where three Sisters of St. Joseph were arrested in 1916 for violating a state law forbidding white people from teaching blacks, even though they had had been doing it for a half-century after arriving in the city from France to teach newly freed black children.

    Lincolnville Public Library was established in the 1940s after a black child was prevented from borrowing a book at the St. Augustine Free Public Library, and became a training center for Civil Rights protesters.

    The modest, red-brick St. Paul’s AME Church is where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in May 1964 before a Civil Rights march.

    Notable Characters

    Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams and Andrew Young Jr. all came to St. Augustine to participate in Civil Rights demonstrations.

    Reverend Thomas Wright of St Mary's Baptist Church trained Civil Rights protesters in non-violent actions.

    Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player, spoke at St. Paul’s AME Church in June 1964.

    Fast Fact

    St. Augustine was where Martin Luther King Jr.’s only arrest in Florida occurred, when he attempted a sit-in at the Monson Motor Lodge.

    Things to Do

    St. Augustine is more than 450 years old but it is no time capsule.

    Visitors quickly discover why this city of 14,000 people has been named one of the most livable in the U.S.: its historic downtown features cozy cafes, bars and shops along narrow, cobblestone streets.

    No history buff should miss the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay.

    The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, completed in 1797, is the oldest Christian congregation in the United States and the oldest church building in Florida.

    For a small city, St. Augustine abounds with great restaurants. For fresh seafood in a casual setting, check out Catch 27. A little off the beaten path, the Ice Plant is known for hand-crafted cocktails as well as farm-fresh dining.

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