12/1 • NewsTallahassee

Saving Bond: Residents and advocates try to revive ‘heart & soul’ of the South side

Henry Lewis grew up amidst the hustle and bustle of Tallahassee’s Bond community. When he was a boy, the neighborhood, wedged between the Florida A&M University campus to the east and Lake Bradford Road to the west, hummed with local commerce.

Grocery stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, after hours lounges, fish markets, barber shops and hair salons stood alongside the shotgun houses of his youth.

Dozens of churches enriched the spiritual lives of residents in the community named for a blueberry farmer. Generations of children were bound by their educational ties to three schools – FAMU DRS High School, Bond Elementary and Nims Junior High.

Over the decades, Lewis moved up in the world and away from Bond.

He served as dean of the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. For a brief stint, he was interim president at FAMU and later president of Florida Memorial University in South Florida.

But while Lewis and other products of the neighborhood prospered, like so many south side Tallahassee communities, Bond struggled.

Streetwalkers plied their sex trade undisturbed around Bond. Each new drug epidemic – marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack and molly – provided merchandise for open-air drug markets. Alcoholics drank beer openly on sidewalks and street corners.

“Bond used to be one of the safest neighborhoods in Tallahassee. You could leave your door open and no one would walk in,” said Lewis, 68, who lives less than a mile away from his boyhood home on Saxon Street…

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