Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park set to become ‘historic landmark’ in city

Jacksonville unveils plans for the park in historic LaVilla neighborhood

Jacksonville unveils plans for the park in historic LaVilla neighborhood.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There isn’t much to see here right now.

There’s grass, a few historical markers and a sign that shows the park’s name.

But the City of Jacksonville has big plans for that space.

Soon, there will be a fountain, a stage and even the childhood home of Jacksonville natives James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson.

“This is an exciting day for the city as we take one step closer to making the dream of this historic landmark a reality,” said Mayor Lenny Curry.

Thursday, plans were unveiled for the Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park. The site at 120 Lee Street is mostly vacant right now but will be turned into a vibrant landmark.

“I like the design. I think it will give us a great opportunity to preserve history and provide a usable space,” said Daryl Joseph, director of parks and recreation.

An artist's rendering of the Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing Park which was unveiled by the City of Jacksonville on Thursday. (News4Jax)

The project, which will cost between $2 and $3 million, will highlight the Johnson brothers and their contributions in the area. The brothers wrote and composed the iconic song, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” in that home. That song has become known as the Black national anthem.

Moving the home to the park site will be one of the first phases of the project’s development.

“One of things we hope to do is move the house onto the site, so that can happen by the end of the year,” Joseph said. “So you will start seeing movement on site by the end of this year. Then, we will finish the design phase up then move into the full construction phase of work.”

Design and engineering plans for the park are underway and are expected to be complete by summer 2021. Construction on the park is expected to be finished by fall 2022.

Community input has been critical to the LaVilla revitalization process. On Oct. 13, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund will have a virtual community town hall for anyone who wants to learn more about design plans for Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.