A plat of Greenland

Attracting residents from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina after emancipation, at its height Greenland had its own post office, general store and school. Rufus Payne, one Greenland student, would go on to become the first “Superintendent of Negro Schools” in Duval County. Today, he is the eponym of Rufus E Payne Elementary School in Northwest Jacksonville.

Greenland’s main intersection.

The importance of the King’s Road eventually was replaced with the construction of Philips Highway in the early 20th century. The development of this state road resulted in a route one block east of the railroad, opposite of the heart of Greenland. The construction of Interstates 95 and 295, along with the presence of the railroad severely limited direct access into Greenland. However, one can argue that the limited accessibility has helped Greenland preserve its rural form and sense of place. Today, Greenland’s street grid remains unpaved and largely intact. At the center of the forgotten community is the 152 year old Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church congregation. Adjacent to the church is the large Mount Zion Baptist Cemetery where residents from the former enslaved and US Colored Troops to community leaders and residents are buried.

Greenland’s Mount Zion Church Cemetery

With that said, much of Greenland’s historic landscape could be living on borrowed time. Eventually, much of the historic ghost town of a community will be engulfed by future phases of KIMCO Realty’s long delayed Avenues Walk development. First proposed in 2003 and currently anchored by Walmart, the Avenues Walk project is an 150-acre Regional Activity Center that will consist of up to 800,000 square feet of commercial space, two hotels, 50,000 square feet of office space and up to 1,050 residences upon completion. In the meantime, if one is looking for a slice of old Southern Duval County, Greenland is just as accessible as a trip to nearby Avenues Mall.

Aerial showing the location of Avenues Walk and Greenland.

Aerial of proposed build out of Avenues Walk (KIMCO Realty)

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com