LaVilla: The rise, fall of a great black neighborhood

(Modern Cities)


A detailed timeline illustrating the rise and fall of a great Jacksonville African-American neighborhood: LaVilla 


1857 - The city's first railroad, the Florida Atlantic & Gulf Central, is constructed, connecting Jacksonville with Alligator Town (now Lake City).


1866 - Francis F. L'Engle purchases and subdivides land in the area, forming the Town of LaVilla. L'Engle becomes LaVilla's first mayor.

1869 - Patrick H. Chappelle is born in Jacksonville. Chappelle dominated the entertainment profession in the southeastern United States for most of the first decade of the 20th century and was one of the most intriguing entrepreneurs of his time.


1870 - 70% of LaVilla’s population was comprised of African-Americans, many of whom worked in Jacksonville’s booming hotel, lumber, port, building, and railroad industries. Early businesses include the Banes and Washington Lumber Dealership, the El Modelo Cigar factory, the Bergner and Engle Brewing Company, the Refrigerated Ice Works, carriage works, and beef dressing works.

1871 - James Weldon Johnson is born in Jacksonville on June 17, 1871.

1872 - Cookman Institute established and supported by the Freedmans Aid and Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

1876 - Eartha M.M. White born in Jacksonville. White was the 13th child of a former slave.


1881 - Henry B. Plant opens the "Waycross Short Line" making direct rail travel from the North possible.

1887 - LaVilla is annexed by the City of Jacksonville. 3,000 people lived in LaVilla at this time.

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