1962 Brochure from the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge (St. Augustine Segregation Testing Site)

Civil Rights, Segregation

On March 31st, 1964, 72-year-old Mary Peabody was arrested for attempting to integrate the cocktail lounge at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Florida. This brochure shows a date of 1962, two years before the arrest. Peabody wasn’t the only person to test segregation at the hotel or in St. Augustine, but as the white mother of Massachusett’s Governor Endicott Peabody, she was among the most famous to be arrested. Mary Peabody’s unusual participation was a turning point that generatedpublicity and put an international spotlight on demonstrations in St. Augustine. Martin Luther King, Jr., sent a public telegram to then-Governor of Massachusetts stating, “I have been so deeply inspired by your mother’s creative witness in Florida.” Interestingly, press photos of her separate encounters with law enforcement can be matched to chairs from two different rooms on this brochure which identify the cocktail lounge, and the Terrace Dining Room where she would be arrested (see attached photos below).


Click here to see brochure from the Monson Motor Lodge where Mary Peabody was evicted for testing segregation and where owner James Brock, upon noticing African-Americans swimming in the pool, famously poured 2 gallons of acid in it.

Click here to see a signed letter by Mary Peabody, the 72-year-old mother of the then-Governor of Massachusetts. She was famously jailed for testing segregation in St. Augustine.


For a fascinating read about Mary Peabody, please read Chapter 20 “Mary Peabody Meets the Klan” in Taylor Branch’s Pillar of Fire (volume 2 of his 3-volume 2,912 page exploration of the Civil Rights Movement).