Community Center named for Solomon Calhoun

The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted this morning to recognize Solomon Calhoun by naming the new West Augustine Community Center in his honor.

Calhoun was a long-time educator, mentor and coach in St. Johns County, and it is beneficial to the County and the community to name the facility the Solomon Calhoun Community Center.

Born in 1905 in Alpine, Alabama, Calhoun grew up in Alpine and Talladega, before spending two years at Clark College in Atlanta, where he studied and played football. Calhoun then transferred to Florida A&M University, excelling both in the classroom and on the football field. Calhoun holds the distinction of being the first Florida A&M football player to be named first-team All American, an honor he received in 1934.

Calhoun also earned a bachelors degree in 1936 and a masters degree in 1955, both from Florida A&M University. He did additional study at Ohio State, Florida State and the University of Florida, and spent most of his life as an educator, teacher, coach, mentor and community leader in St. Johns County.

In December of 1936 Calhoun married the former Linnie Lucinda Smith; together they reared and influenced many youths in the community too numerous to name. Calhoun passed away after a full and productive life in 1989.

Calhoun’s long resume includes the Hastings (FL) Vocational Training School, Excelsior High School (St. Augustine), Bunnell Carver High School (Nassau County), and Florida Memorial College. Calhoun also worked for the Florida East Coast Railroad Company, served as principal of Excelsior Elementary School, was director of Pupil Welfare in St. Johns County and owned the Chapin Street Grocery and Washeteria in St. Augustine.

Calhoun’s community service was vast, impacting many individuals throughout his lifetime. He was a charter member of the St. Johns County Chapter of the North East Florida Community Action Agency, was an active member and Sunday School teacher at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, and also served on the committee for the naming of the renovated Orange Street School Administration Building. He held memberships in the NAACP, Grand United Order of Oddfellows, San Sebastian and Elks Lodge, St. Johns County Retired Educators Association, National Retired Teachers Association, St. Johns County Mental Health Association, Venetian Club and Clique Social Club.

St. Johns County is pleased to honor this long-time educator and community activist with the name Solomon Calhoun Community Center. The name was initiated by residents, requested by the West Augustine Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), supported by the St. Johns County Recreation Advisory Board and approved today by the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.

The Solomon Calhoun Community Center in West Augustine will have a Dedication Ceremony and Community Open House on Saturday, April 25. The Ceremony will begin at 10:00 am, and the Open House will be 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Open House activities will include a cookout, tours of the new facility, entertainment, activities for children, an art exhibit and more.

The Solomon Calhoun Community Center has been a long-time project of the West Augustine CRA and goal of the County Commission. The groundbreaking was October 25, 2007, exactly 18 months prior to the Dedication and Open House. The facility, located at 1300 Duval Street, is within walking distance of much of West Augustine and will offer an improved quality of life for residents of all ages. The complex includes a beautiful 24,000 square-foot community center, along with a swimming pool and splash park, with athletic fields to be added in the future. The approximately $7.9 million project is funded through a combination of sales tax bond revenue, impact fees and bond financing.

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