Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering Those Sweet Days in Old Sugar Hill

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Remembering Those Sweet Days in Old Sugar Hill

Article excerpt

********** CORRECTION (2/5/99)

Jefferson Street was generally considered to be the eastern boundary of Jacksonville's old Sugar Hill neighborhood. Because of an editor's error, the neighborhood's boundaries were incorrectly marked on a map on Page A-7 Monday.

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Olivia Forest, 85, has lived in the same house on Louisiana Street in the old Sugar Hill neighborhood for 81 years. From the late 1800s until the late 1960s, Sugar Hill was where Jacksonville's most prominent African-Americans made their homes. Then the city Department of Housing and Urban Development decided the area was ripe for urban renewal. More than 75 percent of the families were relocated to other areas of town and home after home was bulldozed, effectively wiping the neighborhood off the map. Forest has stayed to fight for the redevelopment of her lost neighborhood, which stretches north from LaVilla to the West Eighth Street medical complex. This oral history was taped by Times-Union staff writer Jessie-Lynne Kerr in Forest's home on Jan. 13.

Sugar Hill was named Sugar Hill by the older people. Everybody thought this neighborhood -- including Davis Street, Jefferson Street, Madison Street, Illinois Street, Fourth Street -- all was one big family. We visited each other and we knew what was happening in everybody's home. If they needed help and somebody got sick, the older people would go in and assist the family, take care of the kids and everything.

We had streetcars down in here. We didn't have cars. I went to Boylan Haven School and I had to ride the streetcar from here all the way out east. When you got to school and got off the streetcar, your teacher met you.

If I wanted something to eat and I didn't like what my mother cooked, I could go across the street to the Goldens' and eat with them. Their children, including Ernestine, could come over here. We didn't have to close doors, we didn't have to do nothing because everybody watched after everybody. …

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