ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Lincolnville, America’s first freed Black community, has history everywhere you turn. The corner of South and Blanco streets is a prime example. There stands the oldest slave cabin in the city.
“It’s a puzzle. I would tell you that it dates back to the 1830s. It may date back even earlier than that,” historian David Nolan explained.
The cabin was part of the plantation called Buena Esperanza – which is Spanish for “good hope.” Jim Painter and his wife now own it and the revamped home in front of it, so they led the charge in a dedication ceremony held Monday.
“It felt great. I mean, I’ve done a couple of historic houses and it’s really a good feeling to be able to put it all together,” Painter said.
Once Painter acquired the property from the White family, who played a vital role in the Civil Rights movement, he got to work. Nearly everything was kept in its original state, including the coquina frame – which is a seashell material that can no longer be duplicated.
“It looks really great and I’m glad that it’s preserved and I’m glad that steps were taken to preserve it,” Lincolnville homeowner Nyk Smith said.
Because of its age, the cabin has needed to have some upgrades over the years. Now, it has a brand new roof, wood doors lining the front – even electricity throughout.
“There was inevitable deterioration over the years, so we’re grateful that it’s been sturdied up and will be here long after I am,” Nolan said.
A marker will help explain the story of the cabin for everyone who passes by. Even though the history of slavery is ugly, Nolan said it’s history that must be told.
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