Historic African-American Sites in Pensacola
By Florida Division of Historic Resources Staff
Florida has a rich and diverse history. African American landmarks and legacies exist in various locations throughout Pensacola. The following historical sites can be found in Escambia County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
The African American Heritage Society
200 Church Street
Built in 1890, the historic Kate Coulson house is now home of the African American Heritage Society’s resource center.
Daniel “Chappie” James Birthplace
1606 Martin Luther King Blvd
A Pensacola native, “Chappie” James became the first black four-star general in American military history in 1975. His illustrious career included 101 combat missions as a fighter pilot in Korea and 78 more in Vietnam. He was decorated for valor and air tactics. As commanding officer of the U.S. Air Force base in Libya, and wearing a 45 automatic stuffed under his belt, he confronted the new dictator, Moammar Khadafy, at the front gate and forced his withdrawal. Khadafy had intended to seize the base with his half-tracks. In the late 1970s, the General was sought out as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor of Florida but died of a heart attack a few weeks after his retirement.
The birthplace of Chappie James, this home is also where his mother, Lillie A. James, ran a school for black children. On Martin Luther King Boulevard, the city’s Memorial Garden includes a marker in Chappie James’ honor.
John the Baptist Church
101 North 10th Avenue
Established in 1846 as the first black church in Pensacola, John the Baptist Church is the oldest black church in Pensacola and the only surviving evidence of Hawk Shaw, an African American community.
210 E. Zaragoza Street, Pensacola Historic District
This simple, wood-frame building, built around 1804, is Pensacola’s only surviving “to the sidewalk” construction. It belonged to Julee Patton, a free woman of color. The cottage’s pegged framing and beaded ceilings were preserved during rehabilitation. It serves as a black history museum.
Zion Talbot Chapel
525 West Jackson Street
The second oldest African American Baptist church in Pensacola, the congregation was organized in August 1880 after a break with John the Baptist Church. The present Romanesque Revival style structure was erected in 1918, after the original building was destroyed by fire. It is home to one of the first pipe organs in Pensacola.
Rosamond Johnson Monument
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Johnson Beach Road
The Gulf Beach area was one of the few beaches that blacks were allowed to enjoy during segregation. Escambia County resident Rosamond Johnson joined the U.S. Army at 15, and died in the Korean War, a hero before his 18th birthday. The first resident from Escambia County to die in that conflict, Johnson died trying to cross the 38th parallel in efforts to rescue wounded soldiers. His bravery earned him a posthumous Purple Heart. Renamed Rosamond Johnson Beach by the county after the Korean Conflict ended, a formal monument was erected on the beach in his honor in 1996. Rosamond Johnson Beach is now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
For more information on this and other historic attractions in Florida go to VISIT FLORIDA's official historic sites guide.