56-58 Washington Street

Dublin Core


56-58 Washington Street
56-58 Washington Street, St. Augustine, Fla. 32084


Turano, John and Jeannette


The eastern section of Dumas Tract Subdivision, the genesis of Lincolnville, is bounded on the north by Bridge Street, an 18th century thoroughfare which led to one of three late colonial San Sebastian River ferry crossings. The Subdivision also is in the vicinity of the early 18th century Indian village of Palica. The tract evolved out of two early 19th century Spanish land grants to Bartolo Juarez and Gaspar Papy, a prosperous Greek merchant who came to St. Augustine from New Smyrna in 1777. Both soon developed some of the first commercial orange groves in Florida. [1] By the late 1830's, the grants were consolidated by Peter Sken Smith, a prominent Territorial period land speculator, who subdivided much of the tract and commenced selling lots. The economic depression of the 1840's ended attempts to develop the areas on the fringes of the old city, and by 1840 Philip Weedman and Peter Dumas, county clerk and post-Civil War leader of the Florida Radical Republicans, acquired most of the property formerly belonging to Smith. [2] After the war, the community of Africa soon developed on the marshes of Maria Sanchez Creek as newly freed Blacks began renting the property from the city. Africa, later called Lincolnville, extended along the banks of Creek and by the early 1870's, Blacks began buying lots and building homes along Central Avenue and Benedict Street. Construction along Oneida and Bridge Streets commenced later in the decade. By 1885, Lincolnville was a rapidly growing Black community, although some Whites lived along Bridge Street next to the Craddock Hotel. The eastern edge of Lincolnville, Washington Street, became a prosperous Black commercial district in the first several decades of the 20th century. By that time, Lincolnville had extended beyond its original boundaries into adjacent areas, particularly Genovar and Atwood Tract Subdivisions. Today Lincolnville generally refers to all Black neighborhoods in the southwest peninsula. [3]
The two-story Masonry Vernacular commercial building at 56-58 Washington Street was constructed after 1930 and is on the site of an earlier wood frame one-story vacant building shows on this site and by 1899 there is a one-story restaurant and a one-story vacant building here, which may be part of the earlier building but they are no longer joined as the had been in 1893. In 1904 they are joined again, the three sections being used as a cigar store, restaurant and cobbler's shop. By 1910 there are two additions to the rear and a fourth shop added to the south of the building which were used as (1) vacant, (2) restaurant, (3) cobbler and clothing and (4) barber. In 1917 the uses were: (1) grocery, (2) pressing, (3) barber and (4) shoe shine. In 1924 an addition to the rear of (1) and the removal of an addition to (2) shows on the map. All four are listed as stores. On the 1930 Map, section (4) is listed as "old". Between 1917 and 1924 sections (1) and (3) had one-story porches overhanging the Washington Street side. These buildings [joined] were wood frame, but after 1930 the current concrete block building was erected with five sections, two-stories high with (1) were used for printing and the rest listed as stores.
The Lincolnville area first developed along Washington street after the Civil War. But the development that preceded its heyday took place in the Flagler Era. The 1885 Birdseye view of St. Augustine shows churches and small residences scarred along the banks of Maria Sanchez Creek. The 1894 Birdseye shows the Creek filled in, where the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels and Ponce de Leon Barracks were built. By this time several commercial buildings had been constructed along Washington Street. By the early 20th century it played the role of "Main Street" in Lincolnville. It has long been an area of combined usages--residential buildings shared the street with churches, commercial, and fraternal buildings. Many buildings along the street have combined usages as well with commercial first floors and residential second floors. Washing Street has some of the city's few surviving wooden Victorian commercial structures. Earlier buildings along the street are wood frame. Later ones are masonry. There are problems of deterioration, abandonment, vandalism, and demolition of buildings along Washington Street. In recent years the Lincolnville Restoration and Development Comission has worked to reverse these trends. They encouraged the city to put in a new street and sidewalks to deal with a serious drainage problem. The street, though it has lost many distinctive features over the years, still remains a suggestion of the overhand, whether porch, balcony, or awning, that once contributed to the distinctive look of the street, and might be easily restored. Washington Street is adjacent to the downtown area of St. Augustine, and the towers of the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels loom over the street from the north.


David Nolan
Denai Laster


Florida Master Site File


Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board






David Nolan and Denai Laster, “56-58 Washington Street,” Resilience: Black Heritage in St. Augustine, accessed September 29, 2022, https://blackheritagestaugustine.omeka.net/items/show/201.

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