Saturday, October 24, 2015

First Desegregated St. Augustine Business, 1963!

Research into history of municipal carpet golf course
reveals a civil rights milestone

As the city continues to explore redesign options for the area along the bayfront between the municipal marina and the Bridge of Lions, one of its duties is to research the history and document any significant of features in the area, most prominent of which is the municipal carpet golf (click here for location). In fact, there is work underway to get the carpet golf facility listed the site on the National Register of Historic Places, a process that involves extensive and well documented research into the history of the facility.

The Mini Golf Course at St. Augustine was formally opened on Saturday June, 25 1949 and has been a fixture and center of family entertainment for 65 years since its initial popularity in the city's booming tourist years after World War II.
As part of the application research, Paul Weaver, president of Historic Property Associates, has brought to light the fact that the city's municipal golf course is not only Florida's oldest extant miniature golf course and is distinguished as an example of post-war geometric type courses, but also it was the first public facility in St. Augustine to be desegregated.

In June 1963, as part of the growing local and national civil rights movement, the city was confronted by Black community leaders seeking assurance that all city owned facilities would not be segregated. While there was no official policy enforcing segregation, it was an informal practice to deny Blacks use of the carpet golf facility, but that ended within weeks of being brought to the attention of the city commission.

Thus, in June 1963, with the commission's action, the municipal carpet golf course was the first desegregated public facility in St. Augustine.
The first step for the National Register of Historic Places application's long process through local, state and finally federal agencies is a review by the city's Historic Architectural Review Board at its meeting on July 17.

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