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With release of 10 acres from Hungerford site, Eatonville could house Florida Black History Museum

 Eatonville CRA Director Shan Rose stands in front of the Hungerford School site in Eatonville.
Danielle Prieur
Eatonville CRA Director Shan Rose stands in front of the Hungerford School site in Eatonville.

The town is in second place when it comes to sites that are in the running for the museum.

Ten acres of the former Hungerford School in Eatonville have been released from a lawsuit, paving the way for the land to be used for Florida’s first Black History Museum.

The town is in second place amongst all the candidates vying for the museum.

The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community has agreed to release the ten acres from its lawsuit against Orange County Schools.

The district can now donate the land to the township of Eatonville in its bid to become the state’s first Black History Museum.

A placard describes the historical significance of the Hungerford School.
Danielle Prieur
A placard describes the historical significance of the Hungerford School.

Orange County School Board member Karen Castor Dentel said it’s been a process getting to this point, but she’s proud of the collaboration between the town, the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, and the schools.

“It has not been an easy path but it’s with an end goal in mind of what is best for the town. And it’s not Orange County Public Schools deciding what’s best for the town. But it’s the residents so it’s taken time to rebuild trust,” Castor Dentel said.

Shan Rose is Eatonville’s Community Redevelopment Agency Director.

She said she’s also proud of the way everyone has united around the town’s bid for the museum. She said the township is excited to present on Friday their vision for the museum if it were to come to Eatonville.

 The site of the former Hungerford School could be the home of the state's Black History Museum.
Danielle Prieur
The site of the former Hungerford School could be the home of the state's Black History Museum.

“Our vision is a place for Black history to be celebrated. The great accomplishments of Black people. You know where we’ve come from. So slavery is a part of it. But it’s not the end all be all. It’s part of Black history," Rose said. "So you’ve got the African diaspora. Where we are today, when we talk about aeronautical activities and how Black people, and Black excellence have thrived in this state and in this nation."

N.Y. Nathiri who runs the Zora! Festival and museum and is the director of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community said the township is already a living museum.

She said it was an easy decision to make those acres available for the museum.

“It's not just a festival, not just a museum, but the entire community is the cultural heritage tourism product. So for us, the idea that a Florida African American History Museum would be a part of the mix of the town’s assets in terms of cultural heritage tourism, is a give-in,” Nathiri said.

The "Town That Freedom Built" Eatonville is the oldest Black incorporated municipality.
Danielle Prieur
The "Town That Freedom Built" Eatonville is the oldest Black incorporated municipality.

The top candidates for the museum will present their bids in front of the history task force on Friday, April 19. Eatonville will be among them, along with historic sites like St. Augustine.

Read the full letter releasing the ten acres from the Hungerford site:

Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media. To see more, visit Central Florida Public Media.

Danielle Prieur