A little-known chapter in Florida history is that of Fort Mose, the first free black settlement in the southern United States. The settlement site is preserved and interpreted at Fort Mose State Park.
Location: St. Augustine
Fees: Free. $2 per person museum fee.
Open: Grounds open 9-5 daily. Museum open Thu-Mon 9-5.
Founded in 1738 under the direction of the Spanish governor of Florida, this segregated community of emancipated slaves constructed a log fortress around their village along the salt marsh.
In 1740 British invaders from Georgia overran the fortress; its inhabitants escaped to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, where they joined a Spanish force to retake the strategic point. When Spain turned Florida over to the British, the residents of Fort Mose fled to Cuba.
Inside the museum, the story of Fort Mose is told through its many artifacts. Although the fort is no more, a boardwalk leads out into the estuary to showcase a sweeping view encompassing the island where people lived inside its walls. Living history reenactors share the site’s many stories.