Heritage Village in Largo & Other Important Sites in Pinellas County
By Florida Division of Historic Resources Staff
Heritage Village in Largo is a 21 acre history museum in Pinellas 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 Pinellas County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
Historic Sites in Clearwater
Pinellas County African American History Museum
1101 Marshall Street
Headquartered in the former Curtis Elementary School, the museum serves as a research center for the study of African American culture and life and as lead sponsor of the Florida African American Heritage Celebration. 727-499-8067
Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church
600 Jones Street
Constructed in 1913, the historic Gothic Revival style building is located on the site of the original church built in 1896 for the Mount Olive AME parishioners. 727-443-2142, mtolivechurch1.org
Historic Sites in Largo
Heritage Village in Largo is a 21-acre living history museum and village that includes 28 historic structures. Of special interest is the Union Academy building which stood on the grounds of the 1915 Union Academy in Tarpon Springs, one of the first “Negro schools” established in Pinellas County. The Sulphur Springs Depot is a 1924 wood-frame railroad depot typical of rural stations in the south that required separate facilities for white and “colored” passengers during segregation. The Pinellas County Historical Museum archives and library contain collections pertaining to local African American history. The museum is open by appointment only. For more information about Heritage Village in Largo, call 727-582-2123 or visit pinellascounty.org/heritage.
Historic Sites in St. Petersburg
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
2240 9th Avenue South
The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum is named in honor of the man, born of slave parents, who became the driving force behind The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and first editor and publisher of The Journal of Negro History. Dr. Woodson is often called “The Father of Negro history”. The museum is housed in the former Jordan Park Housing Development Community and Management office. Built between 1939 and 1941, the Jordan Park neighborhood was established on land donated by the Elder Homer Jordan, a successful entrepreneur. The facility provides exhibitions and educational programming. 727-323-1104, woodsonmuseum.org
Johnnie Ruth Clark Health Center at the Historic Mercy Hospital Campus
1344 22nd Street South
Built in 1923, Mercy Hospital is St. Petersburg’s oldest surviving hospital building. Designed by St. Peterburg architect, Henry Taylor, it was directed by Dr. James Ponder, one of the most influential leaders of St. Petersburg’s African American community. Dr. Ponder became St. Petersburg’s first African American physician in 1926. As the primary care facility for the City’s African Americans from 1923 to 1966, Mercy Hospital was the site of protests demanding the desegregation of the City’s hospital facilities during the civil rights movements of the 1960s. A public gallery features early contributions by African American physicians and health workers to St. Petersburg’s medical community.
642 22nd Street South (Private)
Built in 1925, the Manhattan Casino is significant for its association with Elder Jordan, a local African American entrepreneur, who, with his five sons settled in St. Petersburg in 1904. Jordan and his sons contracted in 1925 to build the two-story building, which first opened as the Jordan Dance Hall in 1931. Later known as the Manhattan Casino, it was the place for cultural and social entertainment in the black community during segregation. Closed in 1966, the original Manhattan Casino space has been restored and is available for lease. 727-893-7539 (City of St. Petersburg, Midtown/ Economic Development).
1011 22nd Street South
The Royal Theater operated from 1948 to 1966 in the African American community in St. Petersburg. During segregation it was one of only two movie theaters serving African Americans in St. Petersburg. Built in 1948, the theater was designed by Philip F. Kennard for the Gulf Coast Entertainment Company. It is one of the few remaining “Quonset Huts” within St. Petersburg. As a lightweight, portable, and economic building type, these huts are inherently rare pieces of architecture. The building was renovated in 2002 and now provides the Midtown community with ballet and music studios, a performing stage and 150-seat auditorium. 727-327-6556
Trinity Presbyterian Church/Happy Workers Day Care
902 19th Street South
Built in 1929, the Trinity Presbyterian Church/Happy Workers Day Care is important for its link to St. Petersburg’s educational, social and religious history. In 1928, the Presbyterian Synod of Atlanta determined that south St. Petersburg should have a church, and chose Rev. Oscar M. McAdams as ordained minister. His wife, Willie Lee, established the church in a wood frame vernacular-style building believed to have been constructed as a private residence in 1928. In 1929 the McAdams’ established a Day Nursery at the church. 727-894-5337.
Historic Sites in Tarpon Springs
Jasmine Avenue off Keystone Road
Rose Cemetery, formerly known as Rose Hill Cemetery was a segregated burial site built in the 1800s. Groundpenetrating radar has identified the grave of J. Richard Quarls, honored for his service by the Sons of Confederate Veterans because he joined the Confederate Army and fought against the Union Army. Quarls was the only black citizen of Tarpon Springs to have gone to the National Convention of the United Confederate Veterans. In 2003 a graveside dedication was held for the tombstone that reads: “Pvt. J. Richard Quarls, Co. K, 7 SC Inf. CSA.”
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 dos.myflorida.com.