Pearl City leads new push for historic recognition

The first town hall, Addison Mizner’s first sales center and Boca’s seven other sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Friday, longtime interracial group DISC launched a drive to upgrade Pearl City’s local historic district as the city’s first black settlement in 1915. Racially segregated neighborhoods that came later, Dixie Manor [1943] and Lincoln Court [1952], are included in “Preserving Pearl City Communities,” the new joint effort.
Nearby Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church [circa 1918] Pastor Ronald Brown, and Lois Martin, who has a community center named after her in Dixie Manor, arrived to support members of longstanding Developing Racial and Social Change. Lincoln Court was represented by president, retired Marine Sgt. Major Lanette Wright-Evans and Adrienne Goddard, who joined the DISC volunteers.
Most people don’t even know Pearl City’s history of enforced racial segregation, DISC president and third-generation resident Marie Hester said before they left on the walk. Wearing yellow T-shirts announcing the project, volunteers set off from Macedonia AME Church [circa 1918] Dec. 11 to door hang 250 brochures, the first step to inform the neighbors. “That’s the oldest home in Pearl City,” Hester said as they passed the Fountain house.
The door packet included a description of the survey of historic buildings expected to start in February. A postcard publicized a Zoom town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Day. “Once they see this, people will spread the word,” said organizer Charles Graves. He has already videoed 100 hours of recollections.
DISC reached out to historic preservation consultant Bonnie Dearborn for this effort. Dearborn worked with Lois Martin on Pearl City’s local designation years ago, she said in an interview later.
So far, she has gathered preliminary information for the Florida Division of Historic Resources, Bureau of Historic Preservation. “They’ll give me feedback,” said Dearborn, president of Dearborn Preservation Research Inc.
By Marci Shatzman


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