Soul Food Festival

1503 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043

In 1888 they called Green Cove Springs the "Parlor City" because the residents kept it so clean and neat.

An 1881 pamphlet entitled "Where to Go in Florida" described Green Cove Springs and called it "The most enjoyable place in Florida."

High ground along the river and a flowing mineral spring drew the first inhabitants to this area some 7000 years ago, but historic development dates from 1816 when George F. Clarke erected a sawmill in this vicinity under a Spanish land grant. The first settlement, called White Sulfur Springs, was established in 1854, with a wharf, a store, and several homes clustered around a public square.

Renamed in 1866, Green Cove Springs became the seat of Clay County Government in 1871. Tourism flourished, surpassing citrus culture and lumbering as the area's economic base. River steamers brought visitors to the "Saratoga of the South" noted for the healthful qualities of its spring and for hotels and boarding houses said to rival the finest to be found in northern resorts.

As we move ahead in time, a hotel along Middleburg Ave, named "The Muldrow Hotel" was a historic place in itself because it was the only black hotel of its time. Middleburg Ave was the "Black Wall Street" with many African-American businesses sprinkled along this brick street. Among many proud residents, Middleburg Ave was the main corridor of the African-American community and also the birth place of Augusta Fells Savage, best known as a sculptor, yet she also achieved some recognition as a portrait artist and as a poet. Her determination and ability was evident by the ducks modeled out of the moist, red Green Cove clay.

Leading the way for African-American artist, Mrs. Savage broke down many of the long-standing racial barriers of the art word. Mrs. Savage was recognized in the New York City art community as both an artist and as a teacher. Not only is Mrs. Savage known for the portrait busts of famous men and women, but also of her images of everyday people in the black community.

Time has brought about a change in Green Cove Springs. Middleburg Ave has changed, the businesses are gone but a new Spirit has developed new ideas with a new direction and dreams of economic development and new growth

With the renaming of Middleburg Ave. to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, a parade and a Soul Food Festival in the Vera Francis Hall Park celebrates a new beginning in this historic African-American community.

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