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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Augustine in Saint Johns County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

120 DeHaven Street

ACCORD Freedom Trail

 
 
FREEDOM TRAIL Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Mrs. Shirley Williams Galvin
1. FREEDOM TRAIL Marker
Home of Mrs. Rena Ayers, 104 year old "Housemother to the Civil Rights Movement" of St. Augustine, FL who provided lodging and food for "out-of-towners" who came to support the movement.
Inscription. This house was built in the 1920s and purchased a decade later by Jutson Ayers, who worked as an alligator wrestler for a quarter of a century at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm before his death in 1958. His widow, Mrs. Rena Ayers, gave important support to the civil rights movement of the 1960s by providing lodging for out-of-towners who came here to support the movement.

In March 2005, when she was 100 years old, Mrs. Ayers had a visit from one of those she had hosted 41 years before. He was Alvin J. Bronstein, an attorney who had come to St. Augustine in August 1964 with the idea of spending his two week summer vacation aiding the movement with his legal skills. Instead, he wound up spending the next four years as staff counsel for the Lawyers’ Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC), handling important civil rights cases in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana (including getting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. out of jail in Mississippi). He was one of many people whose lives were deeply influenced by their time in St. Augustine.

On his 2005 return, he walked through the front door of this house pointed to the left and said, "That's my room".

When the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps, commemorating the Freedom Movement in August 2005, Mrs. Ayers was honored as one of the legendary "Housemothers
FREEDOM TRAIL Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Mrs. Shirley Williams Galvin
2. FREEDOM TRAIL Marker
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the ACCORD/Northrop Grumman Freedom Trail Phase II Celebration held at the home of Mrs. Rena Ayers, 104 year old Housemother to the Civil Rights Movement. Pictured from left to right are Mark Stanley, Cecil Bateman, Rick Matthews (Northrop Grumman Executives), Mrs. Rena Ayers, Dr. Robert B. Hayling (leader of the St. Augustine CRM), Dr. C.T. Vivian (SCLC Leader and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and Florida State Senator Anthony Hill.
of the Civil Rights Movement" in St. Augustine.

This Historical Marker Presented this 2nd day of July, 2008 by Northrop Grumman Corporation.
 
Erected 2008 by The 40th Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, Inc.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Florida, St. Augustine Freedom Trail marker series.
 
Location. 29° 53.162′ N, 81° 18.971′ W. Marker is in St. Augustine, Florida, in Saint Johns County. Marker is on De Haven Street, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 120 DeHaven Street, Saint Augustine FL 32084, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 113 DeHaven Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 97 M.L. King Avenue (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 102 M.L. King Avenue (about 500 feet away); St. Paul A.M.E. Church (about 500 feet away); 112 M.L. King Avenue (about 500 feet away); 84 St. Benedict Street (about 600 feet away); 111 Lincoln Street (about 700 feet away); First Baptist Church of St. Augustine (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in St. Augustine.
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsNotable Buildings
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Gwendolyn Duncan of St. Augustine, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,932 times since then and 114 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Gwendolyn Duncan of St. Augustine, Florida. • Christopher Busta-Peck was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Closeup photo of marker. • Can you help?
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