A greenhouse for Robert B. Hayling Park represents an opportunity for St. Augustine to allow visitors to enjoy the biodiversity of its native plant species.
A greenhouse allows people to learn about growing plants and all the benefits of a cleaner environment. The greenhouse will often be focused on educational activities and school visits.
An architecturally stimulating greenhouse will become another of St. Augustine’s attraction for tourists, as well as architecture, plant, and park lovers.
Dr. Robert Hayling, a proud African-American citizen, was born in Florida, and attended Florida A&M University before serving as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force.
Dr. Hayling then moved to St. Augustine and became first African-American dentist to be elected to the local, regional, and national components of the American Dental Association.
He also actively embraced the cause of civil rights, leading the Youth Council of the NAACP in protests against plans to celebrate on an all-white basis St. Augustine’s 400th birthday .
When Vice President Lyndon Johnson came to the city in 1963, there was to be a banquet for whites only at the city’s famous Ponce de Leon Hotel. In tense negotiations, a small number of blacks were invited in return for a promise not to picket the event. However, an agreement to have city officials listen to the concerns of the black community was not honored.
Hayling encouraged members of the youth council to participate in lunch counter sit-ins, which led to a group of them, known as the “St. Augustine Four” spending six months in jail and reform school. Parents of the students were promised a reprieve if they signed documents stating that Hayling had contributed to the delinquency of minors and agreed that their children would not participate in further civil rights activities. They all refused.
Hayling and three companions were kidnapped and taken to a Ku Klux Klan rally in September 1963, where they were seriously beaten and narrowly escaped death. They were then charged with assaulting the Ku Klux Klan.
During a conference in Orlando, Martin Luther King, Jr. made Hayling President of the Florida Branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
He invited King to St Augustine in the spring of 1964, which was chosen as the battleground for forcing the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Hayling issued a call to college students throughout the United States to come to St. Augustine to participate in the demonstrations. Hayling was arrested for trying food at the segregated Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge Restaurant. Photographs of the events made international news and let the world know what was happening in St. Augustine.
Hayling’s dental practice in St. Augustine was destroyed because of his civil rights leadership.
Hayling Park is a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life to improving the lives of others through his medical practice and his civil rights leadership.
Inspired by Kew Gardens in London, the Hayling Park Glasshouse will be an eccentric glass building offering an alternative way of exploring nature’s plants such as cactuses, orchids and much more.
Make your mark on St. Augustine by making the new glasshouse yours.
Naming rights to a new glasshouse in St. Augustines newest landmark, Hayling Park – Guide Price – $1,000,000