Gainesville renames portion of 8th Avenue in honor of Charles Chestnut III 

The two types of road signs that will be installed in honor of Charles S. Chestnut III.
The two types of road signs that will be installed in honor of Charles S. Chestnut III.
Courtesy city of Gainesville.

The Gainesville City Commission voted Thursday to dual name a section of 8th Avenue in honor of Charles S. Chestnut III who died earlier this week at 83.  

Chestnut worked as a civil rights activist and community leader in North Florida for decades, serving as the first African American member of the School Board of Alachua County from 1976 to 1992 and a county commissioner from 1992 to 2000.  

The renamed thoroughfare, Charles S. Chestnut III Avenue, will run along 8th Avenue from NW 6th Street to Waldo Road at Citizens Field. This stretch of road will pass in front of the historic Chestnut Funeral Home, founded in 1914 and run by Chestnut III and now his son, Alachua County Commissioner Charles Chestnut IV. 

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City commissioner Cynthia Moore Chestnut was married to Chestnut for over 40 years. She abstained from the vote to rename the road, which passed 5-0, and thanked the city for the recognition of her late husband. 

“Words cannot truly express my appreciation to my colleagues, but also appreciation from the Chestnut family for this beautiful tribute and honor to my husband, and keeper of the dream, Charles S. Chestnut III,” said Cynthia. “Thank you for helping to keep the dream alive with this tribute.”   

The City Hall chambers were filled with family members and friends of the late Chestnut who spoke to his impact and legacy. 

State Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D-Gainesville, remembered being involved in the first NAACP Youth Council started by Chestnut and others in Gainesville. She remembered integrating, with “great trepidation,” in different locations around town.  

“He organized it, and he is the reason we first integrated Gainesville,” Hinson said.  

Former Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones also remembered watching Chestnut on a TV show as a young person. He said Chestnut’s words rang true to him and that he was a role model. Jones said Chestnut went above the necessary requirements to help people, including his family.  

The city’s public works department will begin installing new signs along 8th Avenue and anticipates finishing by Thursday, Dec. 14. In total, the city will replace 68 road signs along the stretch. 

The city also asked the Florida Department of Transportation to recognize the dual name for the section between NW 6th Street and Main Street that is a state road.  

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Cynthia Binder

Forever remember
Thank you 😊