The African American Sites of Florida's National The African American Sites of Florida's National
28 November 2022

The African American Sites of Florida's National Forests

Written by: Taylor Collore

An issue that many services and organizations face involving data is where and how to access it. I have spent the past couple weeks gathering all known information about historic and archaeological African American sites to create a centralized database with detailed descriptions for each known site. One major issue with building this database is the failure by previous archaeologists to acknowledge archaeological sites as African American in origin. We have so far identified 13 sites spread across the three national forests of Florida, some are homesteads for African American millworkers dating back to the late 19th century, some are recreation areas established specifically for African Americans, some are entire African American settlements, and some are the sites of historic battles.

One of the sites, Doe Lake Recreation Area, is currently under review to have restoration work done to the beautiful Historic Dining Hall. The dining hall was erected in the 1930s as a place for African American youth recreation during a time when segregation was in full swing. The hall was constructed by Theodore Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) using pine from the very forest that surrounds it and architecture indicative of the region at the time. The Dining Hall served Florida's African American youths until the early 1980s when the building was ultimately condemned and expected to be demolished. Forest archaeologist Alan Dorian fought to save the dining hall due to its historical significance and in 1993 was completely rehabilitated for use again.

Now, 28 years later the building is beginning to show its age and is under review with Florida's State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) to restore some of the dilapidating original features such as the brick chimneys and wood trusses. 

I am developing this database to facilitate better care of African American sites, as well as provide the basis for further sites to be added. Hopefully, this is only the beginning for the US Forest Service to acknowledge and honor the significance of historic sites by all cultural groups in America and work to create a narrative of many perspectives.


Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: National Forests in Florida - Supervisors Office

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342