Jacksonville (Duval County) Incorporated in 1866
LaVilla is one of Jacksonville’s oldest Gullah Geechee communities and one of Florida’s first urbanized Black communities.
Incorporated in 1866 and settled by former enslaved and United States Colored Troops soldiers, LaVilla emerged as a major epicenter for ragtime, jazz, blues and civil rights, earning the moniker Harlem of the South.
Negatively impacted by urban renewal and gentrification, vulnerable property owners are at risk of losing their properties, further endangering the community’s historic sense of place. The community is now working to designate what remains as a National Register Historic District. Furthermore, the neighborhood has organized to secure equitable redevelopment opportunities and to ensure infill development is complementary and respectful of the community, its heritage and history. Inclusion to the 11 to Save program will help these efforts by bringing more public awareness to the history of this urban neighborhood.
Palatka (Putnam County) Constructed 1930
Constructed in 1930 by the Tilghman family, Noah’s Ark served as a steamboat on the St. John’s River until the 1950s. Equipped with staterooms, a formal dining room and a salon for relaxation, it ferried notable people of the era during fishing expeditions, including Jimmy Stewart, Babe Ruth, Gary Cooper and Senator Sam Ervin Jr., chair of the Watergate Investigation Committee.
During late 19th and early 20th century, Palatka, the Gem City of St. John’s, was a primary tourist destination in Florida. It featured several steamboat lines by 1885 and rivaled Jacksonville as a major commercial port. Noah’s Ark, a tangible link to Palatka’s maritime and tourist history, remains drydocked since 2006. One of few surviving steamboats, it continues to deteriorate.
Nominators hope to raise awareness and seek to list the vessel on the National Register of Historic Places.
Old Mount Carmel Baptist Church
Gainesville (Alachua County) Built 1944
Located in Gainesville’s historic Pleasant Street Neighborhood, Old Mount Carmel Baptist Church is listed in the National Register for its importance in the vernacular tradition of African American churches, as well as its association with the Civil Rights Movement.
During the midcentury, the church served as a religious and social hub for the African American community and a strategic center where local, state and national organizations planned legal and other nonviolent actions for the Civil Rights Movement in Alachua County and North Central Florida. The building was the command post for the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, hosting discussions about the desegregation of the county school system and supporting local students involved in the 1971 Black Thursday sit-in to improve racial equity at the University of Florida.
Currently, the building is in disrepair, having suffered roof damage and water infiltration. In addition, new residential construction and gentrification threaten the building’s historic setting and continued use as a community gathering space. The nominator hopes that preserving the building will help educate the community about the building’s Civil Rights heritage and bolster equity activism in the historic Pleasant Street Neighborhood and across the city.
Pomona Park (Putnam County) Built 1886
Named after the Roman Goddess of fruit trees, the Town of Pomona Park was incorporated in 1889 and was known for its citrus, grape vineyards, farm produce and long leaf yellow pine. It was incorporated more than 25 years after a group of settlers arrived in the area after the Civil War. One of those early settlers was Holmes Erwin, a vineyardist and Civil War veteran from Tennessee.
This Gothic Revival, gingerbread structure, also known as the Pink House, was believed to be built for Erwin in 1886. Here, Erwin resided with wife Mary and servants James and Mary Bradly. It was later owned by Adolph Linke, a truck gardener raising fruits and vegetables for market, who immigrated to the country in 1901 from Austria. Currently vacant, this structure features unique interior woodwork, four fireplaces and a root cellar.
Today, the house is in a state of rapid deterioration. Nominators would like to raise awareness and ultimately preserve the historic building linked to the founding era of Pomona Park and the surrounding area of Putnam County.
Quincy (Gadsden County) Established 1828
A Florida Main Street Community, named for John Quincy Adams, Quincy was established in 1828. Following the Civil War, Quincy grew from a frontier village into one of the Panhandle’s most important commercial, political and cultural centers.
By the late 19th century, Pepper Hill began to flourish as an African American community with many residents working in various tobacco packing houses scattered throughout the neighborhood. A comprehensive survey of the neighborhood, characterized by one-story wood frame buildings, was completed in 1996. Since that time, with no preservation mechanisms in place, it is estimated that nearly one-third of the neighborhood’s contributing resources from that survey effort have been lost to incremental demolition.
The nominators hope to raise public awareness of Pepper Hill’s contributions to Quincy’s culture and heritage in an effort to build momentum to preserve and protect surviving contributing resources.
Pensacola (Escambia County) Built 1918
Founded by Gordon Smith in 1899 in Mobile, Alabama, Smith’s Bakery grew from a four-baker operation into a company employing 600 staff producing baked goods throughout the entire Gulf region. In 1928, the operation opened a bakery in Pensacola’s Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood. A historic center of Black commerce and culture, Belmont-DeVilliers is one of two locations in Florida that are designated as stops on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
With buildings dating back to 1918 situated in the heart of the neighborhood, this large industrial complex served as the community’s economic epicenter for 65 years, once employing over 100 workers to produce Sunbeam English muffins and rolls. A major part of the city’s African American history, Smith’s Bakery closed in 1990 because it was considered dated and obsolete for modern day bakery needs.
Over the next three decades, the bakery complex’s aging buildings have continued to deteriorate. A local nonprofit is now seeking funds to restore the complex to serve as a history and cultural center for the surrounding community. Nominators believe inclusion of the site on the 11 to Save is important to the community because of the increased awareness it will provide for the property’s restoration efforts.