Banner Madmimi with Kevin Moriarty river scape

Jacksonville History Matters: NEWS & EVENTS


Jacksonville is a city of many fascinating stories. Preserving and sharing them is at the core of what we do. Please join us to hear two interesting examples of Jacksonville’s history, at our upcoming August and September Speaker Series Programs.

On August 27th, veteran Jacksonville business leader Preston Haskell will describe the community effort to win an NFL franchise for Jacksonville. Over twenty-five years ago, a group called “Touchdown Jacksonville!” of which Mr. Haskell was a part, pursued a major league football team to make its home in the River City. The story didn’t end with just winning a team. As we will learn, the next challenge, in 1994, was to reinvent the old Gator Bowl as a new stadium that would meet NFL standards – a major league project performed under a crushing deadline to make the field ready for the new Jacksonville Jaguars’ inaugural game. Join us for this Lunch & Learn as we celebrate our NFL franchise and usher in the Jaguars 24th season. Reservations required and available at this link.
Lunch & Learn for JHS Members: $15
Lunch & Learn for Non-members: $20


Have you ever heard Jacksonville described as “The Hartford of the South”? The nickname was appropriate, as during the twentieth century our city became home to more than a dozen insurance companies, offering life, property & casualty, and title insurance. Among the first was the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, chartered here in Jacksonville on March 1, 1901 – two months before the Great Fire. From that beginning, the insurance industry came to be one of the dominant factors in Jacksonville’s economy and civic life. No one is more capable to share that story than Jacob F. Bryan, IV, formerly President of Jacksonville’s home-grown Independent Insurance Group. Mr. Bryan will speak at Old St. Andrew’s on the evening of Thursday, September 5, 2019. Please make a reservation at the link below if you plan to join us.

JHS Members receive free admission to this event. Non-members $10.


The motto of the Jacksonville Historical Society, “One City, Many Stories,” expresses our mission and role across the community. We want to have you with us at these and future programs, as we learn about the people and events that have shaped Jacksonville, past, present and future. And, we want to know how we can help share your stories!
Alan Bliss
Executive Director

casket factory and old st lukes

Florida Casket Factory and Old St. Luke's Hospital

Do you know that the Jacksonville Historical Society owns a casket factory? It has been decades since the Florida Casket Company operated from its three-story brick headquarters at 318 Palmetto Street. Today, the building is a part of the JHS’s historic campus, right next door to the Old St. Luke’s Hospital, and is overdue for significant renovation. Meeting that need has long been one of the JHS’s most urgent goals, and a campaign is now underway for capital contributions to activate the second floor. Jacksonville deserves a historical society capable of employing the best practices and professional standards in archival stewardship. When complete, the JHS will gain 4500 square feet of safe, up-to-date, climate-controlled space for the processing and preservation of sensitive archives, including tens of thousands of photos and photo negatives. This has been part of our strategic plan since 2016, and we are excited to have reached this stage in achieving it.

Thanks to a volunteer team of design and construction professionals from the Haskell Company, a feasibility report and project budget are now in hand. Will you invest in the future of the Jacksonville Historical Society by contributing to this campaign? For more information, please contact Executive Director Alan Bliss, at 904-665-0064, or


On July 13, we enjoyed an action-packed night in collaboration with the Durkeeville Historical Society. We had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Lloyd Washington, President of the Durkeeville Historical Society and Otis "Crazy Boy" Williams, former baseball player of the Indianapolis Clowns and relief pitcher for Satchel Paige. After the presentation, we enjoyed an exciting Jumbo Shrimp game in honor of the Jax Red Caps!

Red Caps Wrap up pictures

The Jax Red Caps had a relatively short tenure in the Negro American League. They played in Jacksonville in the 1938, 1941, and 1942 seasons. Although their time in the Negro American League was short, the team is historically significant to Jacksonville. The Red Caps home field was Barr’s Field in Jacksonville, now known as J. P. Small Memorial Park. The ballpark, located in the Durkeeville neighborhood, is the site of much history for both black and white baseball teams and was accepted to the National Register for Historic Places in 2013.

Thank you Durkeeville folks for sharing your talents and your legacy with all of us!


This July I had the extreme pleasure of participating in a two day conference at the University of Florida entitled Digital Collaborations on Black History in Florida. The event was held at the George A. Smathers Libraries with approximately 80 individuals in attendance from archives, libraries and cultural institutions around the state. The conversations were stimulating and the workshops were eye opening. I left with a renewed sense of purpose, along with many strategies I hope to implement at the Jacksonville Historical Society.

My biggest takeaway was the idea that communities build collections. If you think about it, they are the source and we are the resource. The stories of the African American community are not my stories, but then again, none of the stories preserved at the JHS are my stories. They are your stories, and it’s my duty to ensure that they are properly preserved and made accessible to the community as a whole for generations to come. We’re grateful to the many diverse communities of Jacksonville for allowing us to tell your stories for more than 90 years, and we look forward to continuing that legacy of trust.

On the subject of Black history, this summer marks the 100th Anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919, a turbulent time in America marked with increased racial violence and rioting throughout the country following the end of World War I. Keep an eye out for a lengthier piece on the Red Summer and its affects on Jacksonville in next month's newsletter.
by Mitch Hemann


It's time to get psyched for the season!
Time to make your Gingerbread plan and get signed up for the September 14 Builder Workshop! At the workshop you will get the advice we've all been waiting for ... Local experts and artists will instruct us on best practices for gingerbread construction on Saturday, September 14! This is a "DON'T MISS" event, if you are considering building for the 2019 Gingerbread Extravaganza. You will learn valuable tips and techniques in gingerbread construction and other edible building materials. This workshop will give you the combined confidence of Martha Stewart and Sir Isaac Newton and prepare you for a joyful building experience. Mark your calendar and reserve a spot.

We are now accepting reservations for Builders for the 16th Annual Gingerbread Extravaganza! This is a fun and satisfying experience for friends, family or co-workers. Builders find that they get the satisfaction of expressing their creative spirit while entertaining thousands of visitors to the Gingerbread Extravaganza. Space is limited, so sign up early! Sign up here to reserve a spot.


Holiday Party Reservations at Old St. Andrews!

Shake off the hassles and work of holiday party planning. Old St. Andrews and the Gingerbread Extravaganza are available for evening holiday parties this December! Impress your friends, clients or staff by hosting your holiday party in the ambiance of Old St. Andrews decorated in Gingerbread Extravaganza splendor. Our Rental Coordinators have catering resources ready to provide a turnkey event for you! For more information, contact our Rental Coordinators:
Jade Stanley: 904-878-8122
Rob Jackson: 904-878-2241


Our Mission:

To educate and inspire the greater Jacksonville community to value its history, by fostering understanding of how the region's past shapes our present.

Junior League logo 2
Delores Barr Weaver Forever Event Fund
Rotary logo

Thank you for your support!



Alan Bliss, Ph.D. , Executive Director | Mitch Hemann, Archivist | Susan Prattos, Administrator | Imani Phillips, Archives & Office Assistant | Sherrard Ceglia, Archives Assistant | Anna Verney, Archives Assistant | David Woodard, Facilities Manager

2018-19 JHS Board

Michael Fackler, Esq., President | Frederick H. Kent III, Esq., Vice-President | Jeffrey K. Graf, Treasurer | Charisse Thornton, Secretary | Pat Andrews, Immediate Past-President | J. F. Bryan IV | Ed Booth, Esq. | David Chauncey, Esq. | Drew Haramis | Hon. Gary Flower | Larry Kanter, M.D. | Doug Milne, Esq. | Maggie Means | Harry Reagan | Skip Willbach | Wayne Wood, O.D. Hon. AIA


Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company