Historic Markers Across Florida

Lemon City Cemetery

Marker ID: FLHM F-976
Location: 485 NW 71st St., Miami, FL
County: Miami-Dade
Coordinates: N 25° 50.393    W 080° 12.207
  25.83988333    -80.20345
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMZH97


Lemon City Cemetery

Side 1:
By the 1870s, nearly 1,000 African Americans were living in and around the unincorporated community of Lemon City, located just north of the Miami city limits. Most of the black community were Bahamian immigrants who worked for the wealthier white families as farm laborers or domestic workers. From 1911 to 1935, black residents were interred in this small cemetery in simple wooden caskets with homemade markers. Lemon City existed as a self-sustained community, independent of Miami until its annexation in 1925. As Miami grew, property values rose, and new development encroached on Lemon City. In the face of development and a city government fueled by Jim Crow racial segregation, many African Americans families were forced out of the community. New laws created barriers that separated the white and black populations. As a result of these “color lines,” the cemetery was abandoned. It was not recorded on any plats or city documents, and the homemade markers deteriorated or were removed. The land was bought, sold, and developed several times afterwards but memories of this cemetery live on in Lemon City’s black community.

Side 2:
Although the YMCA stood on this site for many years, the cemetery surfaced only when the site was redeveloped again many decades later in April 2009. Human remains were unearthed during the excavation for deeper footings to build an adjacent affordable housing project. Local historians and others researched books and newspaper clippings, and interviewed elderly residents in search of leads about the old cemetery. Teresita DeVeaux, a 101-year-old Bahamian immigrant, revealed she had attended the funeral of Theophilus Clark who was supposedly buried in the cemetery. Genealogical records revealed the names of 523 African Americans buried in the Lemon City Cemetery. The 1925 and 1936 Hopkins maps identified the area as an unnamed cemetery, and 1948 and 1950 aerial photographs showed a vacant overgrown lot. In November 2009, the City of Miami’s Historic Preservation Board designated the cemetery as a local historic site. In 2011, the portion of the site that included the cemetery was preserved and dedicated as the Lemon City Cemetery Memorial Garden and Monument.

F-976 A Florida Heritage Site
Sponsored by The Mayor Tomas Regalado,
The City of Miami in Coordination with Alexander Adams
and the Florida Department of State