Historic Markers Across Florida

112 M. L. King Avenue

Marker ID: AFT 
Location: 112 M. L. King Avenue, Augustine, FL
County: St. Johns
Coordinates: N 29° 53.126    W 081° 18.880
  29.88543333    -81.31466666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMGC1A


This house was built between 1904 and 1910 on what was then called Central Avenue. The name was changed in 1986. There are many streets in America named to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but this one is special because he actually walked on it in the course of changing history.

In 1964 this was the home of Robert Victor Bell, who worked for the Post Office, and his wife Willie Mae Bell. The family was active in the civil rights movement, and their daughter, Veronica, was one of the pioneers of school desegregation in St. Augustine.

The Bells provided lodging for people who came to town to support the civil rights efforts here. One of them was J.T. Johnson, a longtime aide to Dr. King, who took part in one of the most famous incidents of the movement: what came to be known as “the splash heard `round the world."

On June 18, 1964, a swim-in was held at the Monson Motor Lodge on the bayfront. Johnson and his colleagues were shown in what became the most famous photograph ever taken in St. Augustine--of the motel manager pouring acid in the pool while they were swimming. That horrifying image of “Southern Hospitality" showed the world why the old segregated way of doing things had to end. The photograph appeared on the front page of the Washington, D.C. newspaper the day that the United States Senate voted to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants and employment.

Sponsored by: Northrop Grumman


This marker is part of the ACCORD Freedom Trail.

For more information:
ACCORD - Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, Inc
NAACP - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
SCLC - Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Wikipedia - NAACP
Wikipedia - SCLC
Wikipedia - Civil Rights Act of 1964
Wikipedia - Racism
Wikipedia - Racial segregation in the United States