JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Durkeeville is the first African American community to get a historic designation. The community is just west of I-95 and includes the Myrtle Avenue area.
There’s lots of history in this community.
The J.P. Small baseball park in Durkeeville is significant for legends of baseball and just across the street is a home where hall of fame baseball player Hank Aaron lived.
Durkeeville was built from 1936 to 1937 after research led by A. L. Lewis and Eartha White proved African Americans needed better housing.
Lloyd Washington is president of the Durkeeville Historical Society.
“They didn’t have running water. A lot of them didn’t have air conditioning. They had newspaper in the windows to cover up the windows,” Washington said.
Click image below to watch interview with Durkeeville Historical Society President Lloyd Washington.
Other thriving African American wealthy communities and landmarks are gone, such as Brooklyn and others.
Washington says Durkeevlle’s historical distinction is critical.
“It’s important to let people know it does exist,” Washington said. “Because we have forgotten a lot of it.”
With this distinction Washington is seeing changes.
“Every lot that does not have a house on it lately will have a house on it shortly,” Washington said.
Some of the sturdy brick homes are getting new owners, some out of state.
Washington hopes the historical distinction will help preserve Durkeeville.
“50 years from now to be recognized as Durkeeville,” Washington said. “People move in they put in things and names change.”
Jacksonville is looking to rename J.P. Small park after Hank Aaron, and a new baseball museum is expected to have a new re-grand opening sometime this year.