ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION
The Lee County Black History Society website will give you a glimpse into the African-American experience in Fort Myers, Florida located within Lee County.
Our website offers you the opportunity to view many of the historic buildings and locations through-out the historic Dunbar community.
The Lee County Black History Society, Inc., a 501C(3) organization was founded in 1994 by Janice Cass. The LCBHS, Inc. is comprised of an eleven-member Board of Directors which meets on the second Tuesday of each month, the meeting is open to the public.
Ms. Cass’s objectives for establishing the LCBHS, Inc. was to provide a way for African-Americans in Lee County to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, as well as creating a Black History Museum here in Fort Myers, FL. Black History Month, Legends Gala, Juneteenth and Holiday in the Park are events presented each year by LCBHS through their partnerships with other community-based organizations, churches and private citizens. The latest update to our website is the additional option of you taking a Virtual Tour of our Williams Academy Black History Museum!
WILLIAMS ACADEMY MUSEUM
The building known as the 1942 Addition to the Williams Academy is currently located at the county-owned Clemente Park on Henderson Avenue. It is the remnant of the 1942 addition to the original 1913 Williams Academy structure. Williams Academy was the first government-funded school for African-American students in Fort Myers. The school was built during the school year of 1912-13. It was named for J. S. Williams, the Superintendent of colored schools in Fort Myers.
The original two-story building was located between Lemon Street and Anderson Avenue, facing Cranford Avenue, (now Dr. M. L. King, Jr. Blvd.) At the time, the Academy served grades 1-8. As the population grew, Williams Academy was limited to grades 3-8. Younger students were taught at various locations in the community. One of the locations was the Knights of Pythia Hall. Due to a fire on the 2nd story of the building in the early 1930’s, the school was converted to a one story structure. Between 1935 and 1937, the building was moved to the Dunbar High School site on Blount Street. When Dunbar High School was opened in 1927, the Williams Academy was renamed Williams Primary and used for first and second grade classes.
In November 1994, the Lee County School Board slated the building for demolition to make room for a parking lot. The Lee County Black History Society Inc. (LCBHS) acquired the remaining1942 addition (2 classrooms) from the school district on the condition that LCBHS move the building from its location on the Dunbar Community School property. The LCBHS raised the funds and moved the building to its present location at Clemente Park has served various functions in the Dunbar community through the years. In addition to serving as a recreational facility, the park has had many roles. It has served as a nursing home for the elderly when such facilities were still segregated (1950), a counseling center and the first library for the Dunbar community.
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