The workers' village, known as LePageville (known by many as Brewton Hill), was built in 1885 as company housing for employees of Savannah, Florida, and Western Railway (SF&W). It was owned by Henry B. Plant and designed by Robert LePage. African Americans hired as laborers hauled lumber at the SF&W wharf on the Savannah River. These workers needed inexpensive lodging within walking distance. The wharf manger, Robert LePage, designed the village that included affordable two-room houses to rent, garden plots and a church at a location convenient to the docks. Mr. LePage had plans to build 108 homes, but only about 50 were built. The homes had no indoor plumbing, had a community well, and some of the houses did not have electricity. In 1902, LePageville was acquired by the Atlantic Coastline Railroad and later leased to Southern States Phosphate and Fertilizer Company.
Much of the community's identity centered on the community church built in 1888 and became known as LePageville Baptist Church in 1895. The church maintained an active schedule of worship services, Sunday School, choirs, and additionally held other special events. Family ties extended beyond the immediate circle of relatives to include sisters, brothers, parents, and grandparents buried in the cemetery behind the houses.
The cemetery was established behind the houses. Many as several hundred may have been buried there. Some of the graves were marked with headstones, some were marked with wooden crosses, while others were marked with pots and pans. When families moved, the memory of that cemetery nearly disappeared into the underbrush that hovered over the grave sites. Today only one gravestone remains in the cemetery.
LePageville Community Demolished
LePageville was a black neighborhood sandwiched between what is now President Street and the Savannah River. The rows of tiny frame homes stretched from what was then Southern Advocates. As the homes became progressively more dilapidated and more families moved way. LePageville was condemned and razed in 1967. A photograph taken prior to 1967 showed some of the homes along President St and former Hanes St. Today the LePageville Memorial Cemetery site is the only semblance of the community.
LePageville Cemetery Land Deed
When the LePageville site was cleared to make way for a softball field in 1979, the Pine Garden Community activist, Ms. Patricia Jenkins, learned about the cemetery and promised former resident Mr. Alexander Milton that she would protect the cemetery. Over a period of years, Ms. Jenkins searched the historical records to prove the existence of the cemetery and collaborated with LePageville families to identify the individuals who were buried there. In 2003, their efforts culminated with the Engelhard Corporation transferring 3.85 acres of land to the LePageville Memorial Cemetery Corporation. This site became known as LePageville Memorial Cemetery.
LePageville Memorial Cemetery Arch
In 2007, the metal archway designating the area as LePageville Memorial Cemetery joined two masonry columns and fence over the entrance of the cemetery. The arch concept was designed by Stephen Warner.