By Douglas C. Lyons
DELRAY BEACH — Welcome to South Florida and the ‘Village by the Sea,” the first stop of our summer “Florida Black Historic Marker Tour.”
The state of Florida has about 800 historic markers to honor homes, businesses and community landmarks that are a part of Sunshine State history. Many of those markers describe the contributions black Floridians have made to the state’s development.
My goal is to visit as many of them as I can.
I hate to admit this, but I discovered my first stop by accident. I was headed to my neighborhood soul-food joint in Delray Beach, Donnie’s Place. The restaurant is located in the West Settlers Historic District, the site of the city’s first African American community.
The West Settlers Historic District received local historic designation in 1997 and today remains in the hub of Delray Beach’s black community. Northwest 5th Avenue is the district’s cultural focal point. It’s home to The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, the former home of Solomon D. Spady, one of the city’s most influential African Americans.
The area hasn’t seen the development and re-gentrification hat has taken place in other in-town neighborhoods. Unlike some other iconic black areas in Florida, the West Settlers Historic District remains predominantly black community.
The black historic district in Delray Beach is just one of many historic attractions that tell the story of black achievement in the Sunshine State. Give credit to the Florida Department of State and the many local community organizations and county and municipal governments for stepping up and deciding to preserve Florida’s black history.
The next destination is in another part of the state and tells a compelling story about Florida’s remarkable black history. It’s a far cry from trendy Delray Beach. Stay tuned.
Douglas C. Lyons is the founder of www.blackinfla.com.
Accessibility: Easy. Take the Atlantic Avenue exit off Interstate 95 east to N.W. 5th Avenue. Turn left, and you’re in the West Settlers Historic District.
Photo Credits: Douglas C. Lyons and Ebyabe