The Courier April 2015Vol. I, Issue II ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR ~ May 6 open house at Old St. Luke's showcases important collection With a new


The Courier


April 2015

Vol. I, Issue II




May 6 open house at Old St. Luke's showcases important collection

With a new roof in place and two new heat and cooling systems, the JHS is ready to showcase its Old St. Luke’s Hospital, a structure that stood witness to the city’s grand tourist era, the 1888 Yellow Fever Epidemic, and the Great Fire of 1901. An open house at St. Luke’s, featuring a small portion of the society’s mammoth Leah Mary Cox exhibit, is Wednesday, May 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The drop-in event offers an upstairs-downstairs look at the repository along with the exhibit, Leah Mary Cox: An Intimate Perspective. Leah Cox, a Jacksonville resident, captured magnificent images of the city and its citizens during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You’ll also see the local congressional office of longtime Congressman Charles Bennett, a champion for St. Luke’s preservation. It is now our library. For a time, Congresswoman Corrine Brown also used the building for offices. At this drop-in event, you’ll have the opportunity to view the storage and retrieval methods for the JHS collections.

With the exception of JHS administrative space, St. Luke’s is dedicated to the most important work we do—collecting, archiving and disseminating Jacksonville, Florida’s history. It’s a cultural pursuit that serves area citizens and businesses daily. Data gathering tells us the JHS also reaches dozens of countries worldwide.

The 1878 Old St. Luke’s predates the society’s Old St. Andrew’s by a decade. Purchased by the JHS in late 2012, St. Luke’s functioned as the city’s hospital until 1914, and was once a much larger facility. Only the central portion of the hospital remains today. If you attend the open house, you’ll see an early photograph of St. Luke’s taken by, of course, Leah Mary Cox. I hope to see you on May 6!




This machine was made by the Locomobile Company of America and shipped from the factory to Charles A. Clark of Jacksonville, arriving on January 4, 1900. It was a 5-h.p. steam-motor car capable of a speed of 40 miles an hour.

“A terrible journey” defines early drive to the beach

Local history accounts indicate there were a grand total of three automobiles in Jacksonville at the time of the 1901 Fire. In 1903, the number of locally owned autos peaked at 32. By 1905, the total increased to 166. In fact, in March of 1905, the Jacksonville Automobile and Motor Boat Club was organized as local enthusiasm increased.

By this time, the city government was alert to the growing trend and lawmakers had already passed a six mile an hour speed limit for downtown streets. The first speeding violation resulted in “a prominent businessman” being hauled into court.

On April 3, 1905, local automobile pioneer Fred E. Gilbert, driving a Victoria touring car, made the first automobile trip from Jacksonville to the beach. He described the trip “as a terrible journey.” At the time, the road—roughly the route of today’s Atlantic Boulevard— was only partially graded, an effort spearheaded by Gilbert that began more than two decades earlier.

Jacksonville’s population exceeded 60,000 in 1912, and by that time more than 1,000 autos were on city streets. Today there are 803,049 registered vehicles in Duval County.


Governor Bryant documentary will be televised on Saturday, April 25

A documentary about Florida Governor Farris Bryant’s 1961-1965 term in office, The Age of the Mind will be televised on Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m. on Comcast 210 and analog 25.

The one-hour film explores crucial issues facing Florida and the nation in the early 1960’s, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the state’s growth and development.




Not all volunteers at the Jacksonville Historical Society are retired!

As a matter of fact, some of our volunteers are quite young!

Meet Jeremy Graf, 24, a Jacksonville native and computer whisperer par excellence! Jeremy began interning at the JHS Archives in January 2015, just as the first quarter of the Cultural Council Grant was ending and newly hired archivist, Taryn Rodriguez-Boette, realized that she had a problem. As part of the goals to fulfill such a grant, 3,050 individual items had to be input into the digital archive catalog. She did not have the time or staff to do such a thing and time was running out! Queue, Jeremy - interested in helping out!

Jeremy's dad, Jeffrey Graf, is on the Board of Directors for the Jacksonville Historical Society and mentioned to Jeremy that the society was in desperate need of volunteers. Jeremy, who was taking some time off from school was looking for something to do and decided to offer his services.

After 200 hours of volunteer service, Jeremy has input over 2,300 items. You can find Jeremy Monday through Thursday, 10am - 3pm, at the now named "Jeremy's Desk," on the second floor of the JHS Archives.

Jeremy is planning to go back to school this coming fall and will major in computer science. He has also offered to keep inputting items in his spare time (have we mentioned we love Jeremy?!).



Jack King donates 1940's silk pillowcase

We always appreciate the items members and friends donate to the archives. This particular item, made us extremely happy - especially because of the quality. The Jacksonville, Florida souvenir silk-decorative-pillow-cover dates to 1941. It is an excellent representation of Jacksonville at this time period.

Jack H. King has been donating items to the Historical Society for years. He is a regular contributor to the society, with a box or two (at least!) of Jacksonville items every month! His secret to finding precious Jacksonville gems like this one is under lock and key. Last May, Mr. King received an award from the City of Jacksonville's Historic Preservation Commission on his continued efforts to help the Historical Society preserve the city's history. We thank Mr. King for all he has done, and continues to do.



0T4 000E

Leah Mary Cox

The current St. Luke’s exhibit features major JHS collection

Leah Mary Cox: An intimate Perspective is the small, but powerful exhibit featured at a member open house and reception at Jacksonville Historical Society’s Old St. Luke’s on Wednesday, May 6. The exhibit, largely culled from the works of amateur local photographer Leah Mary Cox, highlights the more intimate side of the photographer’s life.

At age 21, Leah Mary Cox arrived alone in Jacksonville during the wild excitement of the 1888 Subtropical Exhibition. Soon, she was plunged into a world of quarantines and uncertainty as the Yellow Fever Epidemic spread through the city. In short order, her father died at the family’s Tallahassee home and her brothers and sisters and a sickly mother moved to Jacksonville where Leah functioned as head of household.

During the end of the century, Cox acquired a “large, unwieldy, professional-type box camera set on a tripod.” The camera involved the use of glass plate negatives, but did not demand immediate processing on site. From perches and peaks, Leah captured some of the area’s major sites; her images of the 1901 Fire’s aftermath are staggering; and she returned to the same perches a few years later to mark the city’s rebuilding effort. She also created stunning images of family members, friends and the city’s people.

It was long after Leah’s death in 1953 at age 86, when her photos reemerged. In the 1980’s Ron Masucci took an interest in the glass negatives stored in the San Juan Avenue basement of Leah’s old home. Eventually, he’d print photographs from the glass plates and research the images. Former JHS Board Member Susan Masucci, grandniece of Leah, and Susan’s husband, Ron Masucci, donated Leah’s body of work, 4,075 glass plate negatives, to the JHS in 2006.

The open house and a reception are 5:30 pm to 7:30 p.m. The exhibit ends July 30th.

The exhibit is currently open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the society’s archival repository, Old St. Luke’s, 314 Palmetto Street. For a small group talk related to the collection, phone 665-0064. The exhibit runs through July.




Mary Nolan, c.1910

Don't miss the April Program!

Join the JHS and author Dr. Judith Poucher on April 30th at 6:30pm for a reception followed by a 7pm program, Mary Nolan: Jacksonville Suffragette and her Night of Terror. It's at Old St. Andrew's, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.

Nolan was often described as the oldest suffragette in the National Women's Party picket line. She was arrested in the nation's capital in November 1917 and ended up at the Occuquan Workhouse where she endured the infamous "Night of Terror."




Old St. Luke's Hospital, left, 1910s and right, 2013.

Old St. Luke's Hospital

Constructed in 1878, this hospital–one of the city’s oldest public buildings–played a prominent role in caring for Jacksonville’s citizens stricken by Yellow Fever in 1888, the typhoid epidemic ten years later, and the Great Fire of 1901. In 1885, St. Luke’s established the first modern nursing school in Florida. In 1914, the hospital moved to a larger complex in Springfield.

In 2012, the Jacksonville Historical Society purchased the 1878 St. Luke’s Hospital and the adjacent Florida Casket Company building with the intention of creating a center for Jacksonville’s history. Old St. Luke's has enabled the society to consolidate its large and scattered archive collection; provide a wide range of document preservation programs and materials for the preservation, exhibit and study of all aspects city history; and assist residents and a worldwide audience with Jacksonville information, images and documents.

For a more in depth article on Old St. Luke's and its history, please click here.




Painting by Donald G. Ingram

April 1st, 1864:
April marks the 151st Anniversary of the sinking of the Union transport ship, the Maple Leaf. The Civil War transport still holds 99 percent of its cargo and rests in 20 feet of water and seven feet of mud making it the nation's largest repository of Civil War artifacts! Click on the photo to the right to read more about the Maple Leaf via the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society.


Photo by Leah Mary Cox, c.1900s

Easter Sunday, 1888: On this day, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, now headquarters of the Jacksonville Historical Society, opened for services. Construction began in 1887 spearheaded by architect Robert S. Schuyler. St. Andrew's served as an Episcopal church until 1957, when the area's declining population led to its deconsecration.


Jacksonville's first Mayor, William John Mills

April 4, 1832: William John Mills became the first mayor of Jacksonville on this day. The election was required by the town’s first charter approved only two months earlier. At the time, the city’s population had reached just over 100 residents! Jacksonville was founded ten years earlier, on June 15, 1822, with an approximate population of 15. The image on the right is copied from a rare ambrotype found in the archives at the Jacksonville Historical Society. It’s among the repository’s most important items and dates to 1855.


The Florida Theatre, shortly after its grand opening in 1927.

April 8, 1927: On this evening, the Florida Theatre’s Grand Opening began with a bugle fanfare from the American Legion Bugle Corps, followed by a live stage performance, The Pageant of Florida. The program continued with an 18 piece orchestra that rose into view from the orchestra pit. The silent movie, Let it Rain, with accompaniment from the Wurlitzer organ, was next. The evening ended with dancing on the building’s seven story rooftop garden.


The Florida Yacht Club

April 28, 1877: On this day, the Florida Yacht Club was organized with 17 charter members. Its first Commodore was J.H. Crosby, Jr. A driving force in construction of a clubhouse was charter member and prominent New York financier, William Astor, who spent winters in Jacksonville, and was the only member with a yacht! Construction of a two-story clubhouse was completed by the end of 1877. The site and was a center for the city's social events.


City of Jacksonville


Our Mission: The mission of the Jacksonville Historical Society is to foster and promote the appreciation of the history of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting that history for the benefit and education of its members, the public and future generations.

Staff: Emily Lisska, Executive Director| Taryn Rodriguez-Boette, Associate Director & Archivist| Meghan Powell, Office Manager & Event Coordinator| Sherrard Ceglia, Archives Assistant| Robert Hughes, Facilities Manager

2015 JHS Board Robin Robinson, President| Christina Parish, Vice-President| Joann Purdie, Secretary| Jeff Bryan, Treasurer| Pat Andrews| Beth Hohl Asbury| Ed Booth| Jennifer Brower| Carl Wood Brown| Matt Carlucci| Jeffrey Graf| Jean Grimsley| Cora Hackley| Zilla Hillin| Hazel Mack| Maggie Means| Doug Milne| Harry Reagan| Lisa Sheppard| Debra K. Tinsley| Reecy Thornton| Wayne W. Wood

email facebook foursquare instagram linkedin pinterest twitter youtube