Groundbreaking at Nation’s First Free Black Community

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In a collaborative effort, the Fort Mose Historical Society and the Florida State Parks Foundation recently hosted a historic groundbreaking ceremony at Fort Mose, the first legally sanctioned free Black community in the present-day United States.

At a site initially built almost four decades before the American colonies declared their independence, reconstruction of the 1738 fort on the grounds of Fort Mose Historic State Park is set to begin and be completed by late 2024.

“As we break ground on the reconstruction of Fort Mose, we are not merely rebuilding walls — we’re creating a tribute to the resilient and determined freedom seekers who made the first free Black settlement a possibility,” said Charles Ellis, president of the Fort Mose Historical Society. “The Fort Mose Historical Society is honored to have played a pivotal role in launching this project, providing the public with an opportunity to consider the true value of freedom. With the community’s support, we embark on a journey to create a dynamic space where the echoes of the past will resonate in the hearts of all who visit.”

“This groundbreaking marks a historic moment in our journey to preserve and celebrate our state’s and our nation’s rich cultural heritage,” said Julia Gill Woodward, CEO of the Florida State Parks Foundation. “The Fort Mose groundbreaking ceremony signifies a commitment to fostering a deep connection between our past and present. This project is a testament to the enduring spirit of community and the profound importance of preserving our shared history.”

The original Fort Mose was established in 1738, marking a new beginning for a wave of freedom seekers who first arrived in St. Augustine in 1687 after fleeing enslavement. That version of the fort met its end with the Battle of Bloody Mose in 1740.

The Fort Mose Historical Society launched the fort reconstruction project in 2012 and began fundraising efforts for the work. The Florida State Parks Foundation was awarded a $933,000 grant through the Florida Department of State’s Florida African-American Cultural and Historical Grant Opportunity for fort reconstruction. This project transcends the simple reconstruction of a National Historic Landmark; it will convey the vital history of Fort Mose to the world, a pivotal chapter of our nation’s narrative.

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SOURCE Fort Mose Historical Society

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