Lincolnville is the most famous historically black neighborhood in St. Augustine. Freed slaves established the community in 1866 on the west bank of the Maria Sanchez Creek. The enclave was known as Africa, or Little Africa, until the city laid out the community’s streets in 1878. The neighborhood bordered a small orange grove owned by John Hay, Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary. The neighborhood was also bounded by two plantations. Situated on the community’s northern border was the Yalaha Plantation. Good Hope Plantation formed the southern perimeter. As the neighborhood grew, its boundaries expanded to include Desoto Place and Cedar, Cerro, Riberia and Washington Streets, which became the center of the African American business community. Residents of the district formed the Cuban Giants, the country’s first all-Black professional baseball team. One of its members, Frank Grant, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. The community also played a significant role in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s.
The neighborhood is home to St. Augustine’s largest concentration of Victorian era buildings. Architectural highlights in the community include the Gothic Revival style St. Paul’s AME Church on Martin Luther King Avenue and the Italian Gothic St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church on Washington Street. The neighborhood also has several Craftsman, Mediterranean Revival and Folk Victorian style houses. Other notable buildings include the home of influential late 19th century African American politician D. M. Pappy and the Yalaha Plantation House. Built in 1800, it is one of the oldest private residences in the city.
When Henry Flagler arrived and redeveloped the city as a winter resort, he converted the Ponce de Leon Barracks on Cordova Street. Once home to the city’s Black servants, the site was converted into a “Whites only” apartment building in the 1940s. Now a condominium, it is still considered a major building within the historic district. Black artisans designed and constructed many of the structures in Lincolnville. Added to the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1991, the 50-block neighborhood once contained more than 540 historic buildings. This number has diminished in recent years due to development and demolition.