Author Topic: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries  (Read 1304 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« on: October 22, 2017, 09:10:01 AM »
Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries



Closing in on 900,000 residents, Jacksonville is a bustling Sunbelt city with a bright future. However, a visit to its Moncrief Road Cemetery district suggests it is a community that does not respect or value its African-American heritage or history. Once operated and maintained by Florida's first African-American millionaire, the current condition of this cemetery district makes it one of the most disturbing places in the city.

Read More: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2017-oct-abandoned-forgotten-moncrief-road-cemeteries

AR1985

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 12:06:26 PM »
Firstly, this is an interesting read.
That said, this sentence needs to be corrected as I'm certain you meant : For years later, the Afro-American Life Insurance Company closed its doors for good.

Redbaron616

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2017, 05:58:02 PM »
Hope some civil-minded group takes this on as a project. Otherwise, a tough call what to do with abandoned cemeteries. Should the taxpayers pay to keep up abandoned cemeteries (speaking in general)? Also, perhaps this would be a good project to bring the black community into, as it shows that blacks were very successful in business even back in those days. Thanks for the attention given this.

thelakelander

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2017, 06:14:50 PM »
Firstly, this is an interesting read.
That said, this sentence needs to be corrected as I'm certain you meant : For years later, the Afro-American Life Insurance Company closed its doors for good.
Thanks. Should have been "four". It's corrected now.
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thelakelander

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2017, 06:26:17 PM »
Hope some civil-minded group takes this on as a project. Otherwise, a tough call what to do with abandoned cemeteries. Should the taxpayers pay to keep up abandoned cemeteries (speaking in general)?

Most of Sunset Memorial is COJ property. However, there's over 120 cemeteries in the city. So it's a difficult challenge to say the least.

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Also, perhaps this would be a good project to bring the black community into, as it shows that blacks were very successful in business even back in those days. Thanks for the attention given this.

This will take more than the black community, which has tried unsuccessfully several times in the past. I personally don't have all the answers but from my understanding there's a lot of legal things to work through and I'm also not sure the city wants the liability of people just showing up and doing stuff out there.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

NadiaOrton

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 05:25:58 AM »
Hello, Ms. Burke. I'm looking forward to continuing our conversation, begun on June 15, 2017, regarding the preservation of African American cemeteries. You stated you were referred to me by the National Trust. As you know, we have family in Jacksonville, Florida, who live on Moncrief, as I communicated to you in a Facebook conversation that you've apparently deleted as of October 18, 2017. Not sure why you'd do that. I can only hope that was a mistake on your part, as a former associate of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. I only know I cannot find our conversation, on how you stated there wasn't much information about black cemetery restoration in Florida, and that was the reason why you sought to contact me initially. These initiatives usually work best when many people come to the table, collectively, to preserve aspects of our common history, especially those that may not have received equal attention. I hope to hear from you soon.

AddyB

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2017, 08:32:54 AM »
Hi Nadia! I just sent you an email, so glad you reached out. I deleted that entire app for storage, so everything went with it. It's great to hear from you, and I am very much looking forward to continuing the conversation. I just came across a project at East End Cemetery in Richmond, that I assume you are familiar with? There may be some good lessons for us there.

acme54321

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2017, 09:30:32 AM »
I'm also not sure the city wants the liability of people just showing up and doing stuff out there.

Unfortunately that seems to be the only way stuff gets done around here.

JaxNative68

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2017, 04:14:37 PM »
Is there a known date for the last burial in this cemetery?  How long did it sit defunct as the owning entities were out of business? What condition was the property in when it became COJ property? When did the cemetery become COJ property?

I only ask this because the statement "However, a visit to its Moncrief Road Cemetery district suggests it is a community that does not respect or value its African-American heritage or history." seems a little harsh and unfair. If the previous owners went bankrupt and closed up shop, I have a sneaking suspicion that the property was greatly neglected and in a state of immense disrepair prior to it becoming COJ property. And if it was, that falls entirely on the multiple previous owners. I find the insinuation that since it was a predominantly  African-American cemetery, COJ has purposely allowed the property to fall into its current condition because of racial prejudices a tough one to swallow.

Should COJ taxpayers be expected to pay for the renovation and upkeep of all failed private business properties within the city? Where should the line be drawn? This site has many threads discussing the financial shortcomings of the City of Jacksonville. I am not sure where you think COJ should find the funding for this individual property. Is there something in the current budget that should be cut in order to pay for this? Is there an additional tax that should be assessed on Jacksonville residents to cover the renovation and upkeep costs of properties deferred to the COJ by the bankrupt courts of the state/county?

I personally think an individual or individuals how have a personal interest in this property should set up a non-profit organization to raise funding for the renovation and upkeep of this property. Maybe the Jacksonville Historical Society should head this up and sponsor different groups to fundraise for specific properties underneath their umbrella; even help them with the National Historic for Historic Preservation registration, so they can apply for grant money to help restore and protect these properties. We can’t possibly expect COJ to lead the way on historic preservation, we have seen how COJ has handled that over the past few decades… with a wrecking ball…

thelakelander

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Re: Abandoned & Forgotten: Moncrief Road Cemeteries
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2017, 08:49:18 PM »
Is there a known date for the last burial in this cemetery?

The most recent burial in Sunset was 1999. For Pinehurst 1978 and Memorial 2001.

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How long did it sit defunct as the owning entities were out of business?

The Memorial Cemetery Association probably went defunct back in the early 1990s.

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What condition was the property in when it became COJ property?

Poor. Maintenance of all of the cemeteries established by the Afro-American Life Insurance Company during segregation declined as the company struggled with bankruptcy in the 1980s.

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When did the cemetery become COJ property?

The city has owned the back half of Sunset since 2010. However, in the early 1990s, local residents got the city to pick up maintenance responsibility for the front part of Sunset and the other two cemeteries in the early 1990s.

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I only ask this because the statement "However, a visit to its Moncrief Road Cemetery district suggests it is a community that does not respect or value its African-American heritage or history." seems a little harsh and unfair.

No worries. With that said, as a whole, we are a community that doesn't respect or value its African-American heritage or history. Abandoned cemeteries aside, that's a clear as day and has always been.  It's had so much little attention paid to it, we don't even know half of the nationally significant events that took place in our city because they were on the "other side of the tracks".  Not respecting or knowing that history is how neighborhoods like LaVilla, Sugar Hill, Brooklyn and Campbell Hill disappear and historically significant buildings across the Northside continue to razed in the 21st century without much debate, recognition or discussion.

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If the previous owners went bankrupt and closed up shop, I have a sneaking suspicion that the property was greatly neglected and in a state of immense disrepair prior to it becoming COJ property. And if it was, that falls entirely on the multiple previous owners. I find the insinuation that since it was a predominantly  African-American cemetery, COJ has purposely allowed the property to fall into its current condition because of racial prejudices a tough one to swallow.

I think the discussion of the reason of their existence in the first place is soaked in local Jim Crow era policies of the early 20th century. However, it's one best left for another day and one that doesn't help get these places back in decent shape.  While it may make some feel uncomfortable to see a bit of the ugly side of our local history, I do believe exposure leads to discussion and dialogue. Continued discussion and dialogue creates an opportunity for solutions and implementation of those solutions.

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Should COJ taxpayers be expected to pay for the renovation and upkeep of all failed private business properties within the city? Where should the line be drawn? This site has many threads discussing the financial shortcomings of the City of Jacksonville. I am not sure where you think COJ should find the funding for this individual property. Is there something in the current budget that should be cut in order to pay for this? Is there an additional tax that should be assessed on Jacksonville residents to cover the renovation and upkeep costs of properties deferred to the COJ by the bankrupt courts of the state/county?

I personally think an individual or individuals how have a personal interest in this property should set up a non-profit organization to raise funding for the renovation and upkeep of this property. Maybe the Jacksonville Historical Society should head this up and sponsor different groups to fundraise for specific properties underneath their umbrella; even help them with the National Historic for Historic Preservation registration, so they can apply for grant money to help restore and protect these properties. We can’t possibly expect COJ to lead the way on historic preservation, we have seen how COJ has handled that over the past few decades… with a wrecking ball…

Honestly, I don't know the solution. This particular area is definitely not my professional expertise. Nevertheless, I can do my small for Jax history as a whole, by continuing to expose the good, bad and ugly.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 08:50:56 PM by thelakelander »
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