Florida Highwaymen Heritage Trail

After Al’s Family Farm, we rode back into Ft Pierce and followed a self-guided trail to learn about the Florida Highwaymen, a group of 26 African American landscape artists in Florida. They were self-taught and created over 200,000 paintings. Mostly from the Fort Pierce area, they painted landscapes and made a living selling them door-to-door to businesses and individuals throughout Florida from the mid-1950s through the 1980s. They got their Highwaymen name because they also peddled their work from the trunks of their cars along the eastern coastal roads.

Pine Grove Cemetery where three of the artists are buried. When Pine Grove Cemetery was started, blacks and whites were still segregated, even at death.dsc04176Many of the Highwaymen attended high school at Lincoln Park Academy where they received art lessons from Zanobia Jefferson. When Lincoln Park Academy was accredited in 1928, it was one of only four accredited black high schools in Florida.dsc04180The Dunbar House was the home of Doretha and Alfred Hair and the main gathering place for some of the Highwaymen.dsc04183A car pulled into the driveway to see if Doretha was home (she wasn’t). We noticed the sign on the door.dsc04182We felt so lucky to be able to meet and talk to one of the Highwaymen, Willie C Reagan.dsc04181Eddie’s Place was located here, a juke joint where several of the Highwaymen congregated and where Alfred Hair was killed in 1970 at the age of 29. As we were reading the sign, a man across the street was yelling, apparently at us. He came across the street to tell us Alfred’s brother was “just over there” in the parking lot and then pointed to spot where Alfred was shot – near the palm tree which he planted to honor Alfred. dsc04187The Highwaymen Obelisk is 20-feet tall and features mosaic duplicates of Highwaymen paintings.dsc04190Every stop along the trail had an information-packed sign. This one for the only woman in the group, Mary Ann Carroll.dsc04196The west wall of the Intermodal Transit Station features 26 engraved plaques that list the names of each artist mounted on a huge mosaic of a colorful Royal Poinciana tree, which was painted by many of the Highwaymen artists in their landscape scenes.dsc04202The home and art studio of A E “Bean” Backus, a well-known (white) Florida landscape artist, but not a Highwayman. He is credited with teaching technique to several of the Highwaymen and influencing the styles of the rest of them during a time in our history when it wasn’t a popular thing to do.dsc04206Miles = 27.

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