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  Preservation Month Feature

[photo] A. Quinn Jones
A. Quinn Jones
Photograph from the University of Florida George A. Smathers Library: http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/spec/pkyonge/jones.htm

A. Quinn Jones House, Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida

The A. Quinn Jones House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2010, for its importance to Florida State history for its association with the personal and professional life of Allen Quinn Jones, an African-American educator. In a project between the Gainesville’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Community Redevelopment Agency, the house is being renovated and restored to maintain its historic integrity and provide a valuable community center for the neighborhood.

Professor Jones was principal of three African-American schools in Gainesville, Florida during his 42-year career as a teacher and administrator in Florida.  Jones was not only the most influential African-American educator in Alachua County; he also contributed to education programs across the state. The Jones House, where he lived with family from 1925 until his death in 1997 at age 104, contains his office from which he coordinated his state wide activities.  The house itself is a one-story, wood-frame vernacular house with bungalow features built circa 1920.   The Jones House is located in a mostly residential setting in the historically African-American neighborhood of West Gainesville, three blocks north of University Avenue and two blocks east of NW 13 Street, also designated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

[photo] A. Quinn Jones HouseA. Quinn Jones House
Photograph by Murray D. Laurie

Courtesy of the Florida State Historic Preservation Office


Allen Quinn Jones, always referred to as A. Quinn Jones (or Quinn), was born on March 3, 1893, in Quincy, Florida, the sixth of seven children of Joseph Thomas and Rosa McDonald Jones.  His father was a gardener and his mother was a laundress.  All the children attended school in Quincy, during a time when education was limited in a rigidly segregated town. Quinn’s principal in Grade School #1 recommended him to President of the of Florida Agriculture and Mechanical College (FAMC), Nathan B. Young, for admission. A. Quinn Jones moved to Tallahassee in 1908 and enrolled, working his way through the FAMC high school and college programs.  President Young became a mentor and friend and found a job for A. Quinn as a waiter at FAMC, and each summer the young man reported to Quincy to work for local tobacco companies to earn the following year’s tuition.  Jones earned a Bachelor of Science degree at FMAC in 1915, ranking highest in his class in scholarship.  He had stated that he would have preferred to continue his education in the field of medicine, but due to the lack of funds, he secured a teaching position in a one-room school near Quincy.  He taught at rural schools in Gadsden, Liberty, and Jackson counties for two years: terms at African-American schools at that time were as short as three to four months and teachers moved from school to school as positions opened.  In 1918, he transferred to Washington High School in Pensacola, and in addition to teaching English, math and science, he served as assistant principal.


[photo] A. Quinn Jones House
A. Quinn Jones House
Photograph by Murray D. Laurie

Courtesy of the Florida State Historic Preservation Office

As he began his career as an educator, he also became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Protective Association, taking an active role in these early Civil Rights organizations.He continued these interests throughout his life.  In January 1917, he married a Pensacola teacher, Agnes Marion Smith, also a graduate of FAMC.  Over the next seven years the couple had four children.

As educational prospects for African-Americans in Alachua County were improving, Jones and the trustees actively improved efforts to extend the school term to eight months and improve teachers’ salaries. Two new high schools, one for whites and one for African-Americans (named Lincoln High School), opened in 1923 and Jones became the principal of Lincoln High School, which was the only public high school available to African Americans in the county and accommodated 1st through 11th grades. Jones fought hard to include sidewalks, a library, a cafeteria for the high school, and adding a 12th grade, he also included funding for teachers during the Great Depression.

[photo] A. Quinn Jones HouseA. Quinn Jones House
Photograph by Murray D. Laurie

Courtesy of the Florida State Historic Preservation Office

In 1928 Jones’s first wife, Agnes, passed away.  In 1937, he married Frederica Williams, a teacher who was on the facility of Lincoln High School. Jones, in addition to tutoring promising students privately in an evening class, taught extension classes in Gainesville and Ocala for Florida A&M College, Bethune Cookman College, and Edwards Waters College, as well as teaching summer classes at FAMC in Tallahassee. He encouraged his faculty to join the Black Florida Teachers Association to improve their education and upgrade their certification. Between 1928 and 1931, the Florida Department of Education authorized Lincoln High School to offer a High School Teacher Training course to help prepare young African-American teachers, many of whom were not financially able to attend college. A. Quinn Jones also began to work on his master’s degree at Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1930, attending the summer classes, he received his Masters of Arts degree in 1935. He started summer courses at New York University to work towards his Ph.D. degree but in the mid-1940s, half way through his doctoral studies, his attendance was curtailed when Florida began to require principals to be on duty for 12 months of the year. When the new Lincoln High School opened at a 53-acre site on Waldo Road in 1956, Jones served as the first principal. In 1957 he retired, after a 42-year career in education, and the old Lincoln High School across from his house was named after him.


[photo] A. Quinn Jones House
A. Quinn Jones House
Photograph by Murray D. Laurie

Courtesy of the Florida State Historic Preservation Office

During World War II, Jones was recognized by the President of the United States for his work serving as a member of the Selective Service Advisory Board in Alachua County.  Among the many commendations received was the Booker T. Washington Plaque for Meritorious Service from the Florida State Teachers Association.  The home of Professor Jones is significant because it was from the office in his home that much of his educational work and his community activities were coordinated. When he passed away, his family donated the house and its contents to the community, and his papers have been deposited in the collection of the Smathers Library at the University of Florida. The home is now used as a cultural center.

The house is located at 1013 N.W. 7th Avenue in Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida. 

Read the full file on the A. Quinn Jones House

More about the restoration can be found on the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency website

 

 

 

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