The Union Academy Neighborhood is one of Pinellas County’s oldest African-American communities. Located in the heart of Tarpon Springs, it is bounded generally by Safford Avenue on the west, Lemon Street on the north, Huey Avenue on the west, and Meres Boulevard and Mango Circle on the south. The neighborhood was originally settled by workers employed in the local lumber industry and takes its name from the Union Academy School, now called the Union Academy Cultural Center.
Due to early segregation practices, the Union Academy School was the only school African-Americans could attend in Tarpon Springs from the early 1900’s to the 1960’s. Classes from first through eighth grade were held at the school until the late sixties when Union Academy became an elementary school. In the mid-seventies, the Pinellas County School Board decided to stop using the facility and it was abandoned. Through community efforts the Citizens Alliance for Progress, Inc. (CAP) was established in 1982, with the goal of acquiring and renovating the Union Academy School building to make it the focal point of the neighborhood.
In June 1995, officials from the Pinellas Planning Council, the City of Tarpon Springs, the University of West Florida, and the Pinellas County Community Development Department were invited by CAP to participate in the development of a neighborhood improvement plan. The plan was developed, and adopted by the City in 1997, and is now known as the Union Academy Neighborhood: A Solutions Plan. In the fall of 2000, the City of Tarpon Springs and the Pinellas County Community Development Department, worked with the Union Academy Neighborhood Oversight Committee to prepare a successful application for an Urban Infill and Redevelopment Assistance Implementation Grant. This grant, funded by the Florida Department of Community Affairs will augment the County’s and City’s efforts in meeting the affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization goals set out in the Solutions Plan.