West Ocala

The West Ocala Historic District is a historic district in Ocala, Florida. It found its place on the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 2002.


The Timucua Indians, who inhabited what they called “Ocali” in the neighborhood of modern Ocala, were most likely the original settlers of Marion County, Florida.


During Reconstruction, African Americans in Ocala and around Florida achieved considerable progress. Marion County’s black population accounted for 73 percent of the people in 1870, creating an absolute majority.


Marion County had 65 percent black registered voters in 1872. African Americans were elected to public office as early as 1868. Marion County selected Reverend Samuel Small, Scipio Jasper, and others to the Florida House of Representatives in 1868.


Marion County placed Reverend Samuel Small, Scipio Jasper, and others on the Florida House of Representatives in 1868. Tom Long, a prominent congressman who had assisted in the formation of Mt. Zion, sponsored a measure to create free public schools in Florida.


Ocala was starting to grow beyond its initial city limits. West of the central area, most African American citizens, began to dwell. Several train lines went through the site, running north-south and east-west.


The commercial hub of downtown Ocala was Broadway (now Silver Springs Boulevard), the city’s primary east-west highway. Many of Ocala’s most prosperous African American merchants and leaders lived on this street.


One of West Ocala’s most well-known residents began to flourish.


Levi Alexander, a Virginia native, arrived in Ocala in the late 1800s and started his contracting company. The firm’s name changed to L. Alexander & Son after his son Levi, Jr. graduated from college with a degree in architecture.


The construction of the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church on South Magnolia in 1891 was planned by Levi Alexander, Sr. The structure is still standing today. And is Ocala’s sole remaining brick nineteenth-century religious structure.


Marion County began to take a closer look at its historical treasures in the late 1970s. The Mt. Zion Church became part of the National Register of Historic Places, and the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council completed the Historical and Archaeological Survey of Marion County in 1981.


With monies from the City of Ocala’s Community Development Block Grant Program, the first study focused entirely on the West Ocala region was conducted in 1989. The report recommended that a portion of the area be part of the National Register of Historic Places. Howard Academy became a potential for individual placement on the Register.