St. Johns County the top-ranked location for Florida’s first Museum of Black History

The state will consider three host sites in June; the county is proposing a St. Augustine site.

The proposed Florida Museum of Black History would operate at the former Florida Memorial College campus in St. Augustine.
The proposed Florida Museum of Black History would operate at the former Florida Memorial College campus in St. Augustine.
J. Brooks Terry
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The Florida Museum of Black History Task Force on April 19 ranked St. Johns County as the No. 1 location for the state’s first Black history museum. 

The other finalists are, in order, Eatonville in Orange County and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskel, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book will review the proposals in June for the final selection.

DeSantis signed a bill in May 2023 to create a museum dedicated to Black history.

Criteria include the historical significance of the area, appropriateness of the proposed site, regional economy, regional demographics, transportation infrastructure, local funding and support and educational resources, according to the task force.  

The museum, if St. Johns County is selected, would be at the former Florida Memorial College campus at North Holmes Boulevard and West King Street in St. Augustine. The site is in the West Augustine community.

The college relocated to Miami Gardens in 1968 and changed its name to Florida Memorial University in 2006. Florida Memorial University Foundation Inc. owns the land, according to the university’s website.

St. Johns County plans to buy a parcel of land on the school’s property to build the museum.

Florida A&M University’s School of Architecture and Engineering Technology is being tapped to develop project plans, said Sarah Arnold, St. Johns County Board of Commissioners chair and District 2 commissioner.

Tera Meeks, St. Johns County director of tourism and cultural development, said a 2020 cultural marketing review stated “St. Johns County has the assets and product to compete as a world-class African American Heritage destination.”

According to the report, “It is difficult to name a destination in the United States with a more varied and rich history of the African American experience than St. Johns County.”

Project partners include the Florida Memorial Museum, West Augustine Community Redevelopment Area, Accord Civil Rights Museum, Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, St. Johns Visitors and Convention Bureau, St. Johns Cultural Council, the City of St. Augustine and the City of St. Augustine Beach. 



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