The Williams House of Fernandina Beach & Other Landmarks
By Florida Division of Historic Resources Staff
The Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, located in Nassau County, was originally built in 1870.
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 Nassau County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
Off Highway 105 between Amelia City and Franklintown
The American Beach historic district, an important area during the era of segregation, is at the south end of Amelia Island. In 1935, A.L. Lewis, president of the Pension Bureau of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company bought the first 33 acres of oceanfront property. Company employees were invited to use the beach and the company held outings on the property. In 1937, 100 acres more were purchased, and in 1946, 83 additional acres were added to the land. Later subdivided, lots were sold to company executives and shareholders. The Pension Bureau acquired more land and built a public inn and beach resort. Although originally for the Company’s elite, later (from 1930-1970), the community was opened to blue collar workers. (904) 261-0175.
Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church
202 South 9th Street
Organized in 1872 from the Prayer Band started some years earlier by Samuel Irving, Macedonia AME Church was originally located on the corner of Seventh and Beech Streets. The Congregation moved into its newly built sanctuary in 1899. The bell in its belfry is original to the building. In the 1940s families purchased stained glass windows in honor of their loved ones. The Church has survived fire (1898), relocation and decline in membership. (904) 261-4114.
The Williams House
103 South 9th Street
Though Jefferson Davis stayed at this 1859 Antebellum mansion when he was president of the Confederacy, it later became part of the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves. The secret room used for that purpose is still in existence. The Williams House was constructed in 1859 by Marcellus Williams, a surveyor who worked to validate Spanish land Grants and the Everglades. The unique porch was added in 1860 and the south wing was added in 1880. The House now serves as a bed and breakfast inn. (904) 277-2328.
Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church
State Road 107
The church was founded just after the Civil War. The traditional site for free Blacks, Indians, Spanish Indians and Mulattoes, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church served as the rallying place for the African American community in Nassau County. The original church was built in 1870, destroyed in 1920 and rebuilt with community funding the same year. Restoration took place in the 1990s.
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/