Juneteenth ribbon cutting commemorates civil rights history of iconic Canright House in West Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Following its move from Butler Beach to West Augustine in early May, the Canright House has a new permanent home, celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning. It’s now where people can learn about its history and significance to the civil rights movement through guided tours and historical markers.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Was supposed to stay in the house while visiting the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1964, but then it was vandalized by segregationists, who firebombed and shot at the structure.

“West Augustine is a significant community in the city of St Augustine, and often overlooked,” said Co-Chairman of West Augustine Community Redevelopment, Dwala Willis, at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting. “Today signifies a change in that moving forth in the right direction. The movement of this house, the ML King beach house to West Augustine, it’s just phenomenal.”

All those who visit the Canright House can see where bullets pierced and where fire bombs singed the floorboards of the iconic piece of civil rights history, from attacks by segregationists. Those attacks would go on to lead to one of the most iconic photos during the civil rights movement, where Dr. King pointed to one of the bullet holes left in the building’s south side window.

“Saint Augustine, as you know, was the was really the first foundation for the civil rights movement,” Willis exclaimed on Wednesday. “Dr. King visited here for that specific reason. It’s the only place he was arrested, was in St. Augustine.”

There’s hope now that West Augustine will continue to shape itself into a historical landmark in Northeast Florida, especially with a proposed $100 million African American history museum slated for the area.

“That museum that will be coming will signify that our nation is looking forward in making change for all Americans,” said Willis.

“That will just add to that user experience coming in and also bring out some of that economic development out to West Augustine,” added Saint Johns County Director of Parks & Recreation Ryan Kane

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