a.l.-lewis_arch_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — Florida Memorial University will on Thursday dedicate the recently restored A. L. Lewis Archway Plaza during a ceremony celebrating the school’s former entryway and historic roots in St. Augustine. The event will take place at the Collier-Blocker-Puryear Park and a reception will follow with an opportunity to view informational kiosks chronicling the story of the historically black university.

“Florida Memorial University has a prosperous and inspiring history,”. Henry Lewis III, president of FMU, said in a statement. “The vision of our former presidents led to establishing St. Augustine’s first college and shapes a legacy of educational excellence we still honor today. We are building upon that legacy and transforming it from good to great.”

FMU traces its origins to 1879 and is the product of a merger of the Florida Baptist Institute in Live Oak and the Florida Baptist Academy, founded in 1892 in Jacksonville.

Both institutions served former slaves and their descendants, with curriculums focused on industrial education, the domestic arts, teacher education and agricultural, mechanical and religious training.

In 1918, the institution relocated to St. Augustine, after which the name changed to Florida Memorial College and the school achieved accreditation.

The original archway was built by students in the 1930s and served as the entrance to campus until 1968, when the school moved to what is now Miami Gardens.

With the addition of graduate degree programs in education and business, the school was renamed Florida Memorial University in 2006.  The dedication of the rebuilt archway will launch the school’s redevelopment of the hundreds of surrounding acres that  FMU still owns.

The A. L. Lewis Archway Plaza dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 14.

For more information or to confirm your attendance, call Janell Blake in the Office of Institutional Advancement at 305-626-3609.

Photo: Restored Archway