St. Augustine park to honor Zora Neale Hurston


The park at the corner of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and King St. in St. Augustine has a new name: Zora Neale Hurston Memorial Park.

The new name was selected by the City Commission from more than 80 suggestions submitted by local residents. Appropriate signage will be placed at the park to denote its new name and document the history of Hurston’s association with St. Augustine.

Best known as the author of the 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Hurston was one of the most prominent authors to come out of the Harlem Renaissance. She lived in St. Augustine on several occasions during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and her home at 791 W. King St. was recognized by St. Johns County with a historical marker in 2003.

While living in St. Augustine, Hurston was married at the St. Johns County Courthouse and later taught at the Florida Normal and Industrial Institute – now Florida Memorial College. It was while living in the Ancient City that she completed her autobiography, “Dust Tracks on a Road,” and became friends with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (“The Yearling”).

In addition to novels, Hurston wrote plays, poetry, essays and short stories. Her fame faded in the 1950s, however, and in 1960 she died in near obscurity in Ft. Pierce, Florida. A rediscovery of her writing during the 1980s and 1990s led to renewed appreciation of her works, which are now often required reading in high school and college literature courses.