Unofficial historian of Lincoln Park Academy is Class of 1956 graduate
Samuel S. Gaines, whose grandfather founded Stone Bros. Funeral Home
in 1932. Gaines was a school board member for 34 years and has a county
elementary school named for him.
community surrounding the school took the school’s name
as its own. What was once known as the northwest section of
Fort Pierce, or other offensive monikers, is now the Lincoln
Lincoln Park Academy’s faculty from day one embraced
the notion of developing more than just teenage minds.
“All of our teachers were African American,” Ernestine
Trice English, LPA Class of 1957, said. “One thing about
having all the teachers looking like us is that we had a real
sense of who we were and what we could accomplish. The
teachers were concerned about our studies but also about the
Walter Pierce Jr., Class of 1961, said the influence of teachers
extended beyond the school boundaries.
“When I was growing up in Fort Pierce, our faculty members
lived in the community,” Pierce said. “We saw them
on the weekends. We saw them after school every day. We
could not misbehave when we were out of school because
they saw us.”
English concurred. “The teachers were kind of like extra
aunts or uncles. They would stop you if they saw you doing
something wrong. And you wouldn’t have to tell your mom
when you got home. They had already called and told her.”
THREE EPOCHS OF LPA
This year, Lincoln Park Academy and its far-flung graduates
celebrate the school’s centennial.
LPA has had three distinct points of history.
The first, from 1923 to 1970, is the segregated era. Near the
end of this period, white teachers began moving over to Lincoln
Park. By the academic year of 1969-70, nearly a third of
the teachers were white, but even at that late date, there were
no white students. Probably the biggest event in this span
was the opening in 1953 of a new campus where the school
still stands, at Avenue I and North 17th Street, from its Means
Court and 13th Street location.
During the second, LPA transformed in 1970 to an integrated
school for all ninth graders in the county school system.
Later, it became a middle school.
And the third epoch, which began in 1985, continues today.
Partially to appease a federal judge, who had to approve the
county’s attendance zones, LPA became a magnet school with
a traditional education theme in a highly successful attempt
to draw students from all over the county. The first student
body’s racial makeup of 53% white, 44% black and 3% other
was close to that of the school district at the time.
EARLY ADOPTER OF BLACK EDUCATION
Samuel S. Gaines, LPA Class of 1956 and son of Alma Stone
Gaines, Class of 1937, is an unofficial historian of the school.
Gaines, who served on the school board for 34 years, said the
first school for African American children in Fort Pierce was
in 1906 in an old tin building on North Eighth Street that the
white school system had used for storage. Soon, a new building
replaced that tin one. It is not clear if that early school had
a name other than the Colored School. Sometime before 1920,
the school moved to North 13th Street and Means Court and
became known as Means Court School.
Not everyone agrees that 2023 should be LPA’s centennial
year. Francenia Fran Tripp Mimms, Class of 1959, said
it would be more appropriate to celebrate the year that the
school first included all four high school grades. She said she
has tried to find out when that was and suggested that it was
Francenia Tripp Mimms, Class ‘59, who was a member of the Miss LPA
court and married Greyhound quarterback Robert Mimms, poses with son
Fort Pierce City Manager Nick Mimms.