The Courier Special Issue November/December 2015 Vol. I, Issue IX Happy Holidays from the Jacksonville Historical Society! ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIR


The Courier


Special Issue

November/December 2015

Vol. I, Issue IX


Happy Holidays from the Jacksonville Historical Society!

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Santa on Forsyth Street, Jacksonville. Photo from the Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.




"Best Holiday experience in the South" and a grant from Delores Barr Weaver—Now we need you!

November and December are extremely busy months for the Jacksonville Historical Society. That’s good. In fact, it’s so good that the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Gingerbread House Extravaganza was listed in Southern Living magazine among the “South’s best holiday experiences.” The article has certainly attracted the attention of area residents, and we're enjoying much bigger crowds at the society’s only annual major fundraiser.

Pat Andrews, who also serves as a JHS Director, chairs the event and has been extraordinary in her leadership. The record 50 gingerbread houses this year is one indicator of her success. Pat and I call the Extravaganza the “most creative art show in town.” The event also received a tremendous boost this year with a $10,000 annual grant in perpetuity from Delores Barr Weaver. Mrs. Weaver is a longtime society supporter.

The Extravaganza runs daily, except Sunday, only through December 23, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Merrill House is open for tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free.

Within the Extravaganza are themed trees by the Junior League of Jacksonville sustainers. This “Festival of Trees” offers brief Florida history lessons, and is dazzling in the room, along with Betsy Lovett’s angel tree which is the room’s focal point. Betsy’s angel tree has graced Old St. Andrew’s since 1998.

As the first child on the first day of the Extravaganza said as he entered the room, “there is a lot of Christmas in here!” All it’s missing is you and your loved ones. So, please tell your friends about the Gingerbread Extravaganza, and I hope to see you, too!

In the meantime, on behalf of the Directors and staff of the Jacksonville Historical Society, I wish you the magic of the season.



Gingerbread Extravaganza is featured in Southern Living

The 13th annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza is getting some much deserved press outside of Jacksonville. Southern Living magazine ran story in its December issue that named the Extravaganza among the “South’s best holiday experiences.” The Gingerbread Extravaganza was one of only four events selected.

The brief, but highly visible article mentioned that amateur and professional creations were shown side by side. They also gave a nod to the numerous historic structures created from gingerbread and confection. Also mentioned was that the “setting is just as stunning as the candy,” paying tribute to the Extravaganza site, the society’s 1887 St. Andrew’s.

Important for the society is the fact ...[Read more...]




Historical Society intern is a remarkable UNF history major

Imani Phillips possesses a calm and beautiful spirit. Along the way, she also acquired a wonderful sense of humor. These attributes, along with her academic prowess, provided the Jacksonville Historical Society with a smart and capable intern during the fall who was also a joy for the staff and volunteers.

It was only days ago that Imani completed a semester internship at the Jacksonville Historical Society for her studies at the University of North Florida where she is a history major. Imani is one of a growing number of university students who has received...[Read more]




Images of the Humpty Dumpty Circus.

The Humpty Dumpty Circus

by Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

Not all of the archives’ treasures are found in the Old St. Luke’s Hospital building. Sometimes you need to visit other institutions with great collections to broaden your horizons. This December we are showcasing a 19th century toy exhibit, Playing with History: The Joys and Noise of 19th Century Toys, in the Merrill House. I had the pleasure of perusing the toy collections of MOSH and of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine and picking some of their items for our exhibit— probably one that everyone will enjoy seeing: The Humpty Dumpty Circus toys...[Read more]




Leah Mary Cox Collection in the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives.

"Playing with History:

The Joys and Noise of 19th Century Toys

The Jacksonville Historical Society is presenting a new exhibit at the Merrill House during the Gingerbread Extravaganza. The exhibit titled “Playing with History: The Joys and Noise of 19th Century Toys” showcases period toys from the collections of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Children have always played with toys. From archaeological digs we know that the earliest toys were made from materials found in nature, such as rocks, sticks, and clay. Thousands of years ago, Egyptian children played with dolls that had wigs and movable limbs which were made from stone, pottery, and wood. In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, children played with dolls made of wax or terracotta, sticks, bows and arrows, and yo-yos.

Exhibit Open: Through December 23rd | 1p.m. - 4p.m.
Where:James E. Merrill Museum House, adjacent to Old St. Andrews

The 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by
Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Last Day for Gingerbread Extravaganza is December 23rd!

The Jacksonville Historical Society will end the 13th Annual Extravaganza on December 23rd. It runs daily 11am - 5pm; Saturday 10am - 5pm; CLOSED Sundays.

The Gingerbread House Extravaganza showcases some of the most creative art exhibited during the year in Jacksonville. Gingerbread and confection creations from traditional houses to animals and fairy tale themes offer holiday magic.

Joining the Extravaganza each year are Junior League of Jacksonville Sustainers, who create themed trees that are showcased throughout Old St. Andrews. Betsy Lovett’s towering and beautiful angel tree remains the Extravaganza’s centerpiece.

This charity event benefits the children’s programs of the Jacksonville Historical Society.

The Gingerbread House Extravaganza is supported by a grant from the Endowed $10,000 Event Grant Fund established 2015 by Delores Barr Weaver.




Congregation Ahavath Chesed Synagogue, W. Union Street, 1902-1980.

The History of the Jewish Community in Jacksonville

Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Jewish Museum of Florida's Founding Executive Director, presents on Jacksonville's Jewish Community history on Monday, January 25 at Old St. Andrew's, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.

The 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.




First Presbyterian Church, c. 1890s. Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

First Presbyterian Church: "175 Years True"

The congregation of First Presbyterian was incorporated in 1840 and constructed a church building on the present Monroe Street location in 1847. The property was donated by Captain Obadiah Congar, a founder of the church and later, Mayor of Jacksonville in 1848.

First Presbyterian was among the destroyed houses of worship in the Great Fire of 1901, but construction of the new and current ... [Read more]




Eartha and Clara White.

November 8, 1876: Eartha Mary Magdalene White, African-American Humanitarian, born on this day in Jacksonville. Adopted by Clara English White, she graduated from Stanton in 1893. After graduation she moved to New York where she attended the Madam Hall Beauty School and the National Conservatory of Music and became an opera singer with the Oriental American Opera Company. She returned to Jacksonville in 1896 to graduate from the Florida Baptist Academy. With her mother, Clara, she undertook charitable activities in Jacksonville's African American community. In 1920, Eartha obtained the Globe Theatre building on West Ashley Street and operated the non-profit organization that served daily meals to the needy in the city.

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Major George R. Fairbanks.

November 26, 1902: Major George R. Fairbanks of Fernandina was elected president of the Florida Historical Society at a meeting held in Jacksonville. In his presidential remarks, Fairbanks spoke of the need for a society library, a task that was finally achieved in 1997 when the Library of Florida History opened in Historic Cocoa Village in Brevard County. JHS Executive Director, Emily Lisska, is currently the Florida Historical Society Vice-President.


"In order to pass through the sanitary cordon around the city, Immunity cards were issued to citizens not suffering from the disease. This card was belonged to Francis P. Fleming, Jr." Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

December 15, 1888: While the official date for the end of Jacksonville's Yellow Fever Epidemic was listed as November 26, when the temperature fell to freezing, the Board of Health issued a proclamation that December 15 should be the day when "refugees might be allowed to return to Jacksonville" after the city had been quarantined for almost 5 months. The penalty for breaking the law was either a $500 fine or 30 days imprisonment. During the Yellow Fever Epidemic 4,704 people contracted the disease and 427 died..


December 20, 1957: The Jacksonville Municipal Zoo's animal collection became more exotic in 1956-57. On December 20, the Zoo acquired it's first male giraffe. The Giraffe House restaurant had been completed in 1956.


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

2015-16 JHS Board Ed Booth, President| Jeffrey Graf, Vice-President| Maggie Means, Secretary| Jeff Bryan, Treasurer | Pat Andrews| Elizabeth Hohl Asbury| Alan Bliss| Jean Grimsley| Cora Hackley| Robert Hennigar| Zilla Hillin| Doug Milne| Christina Parrish| Harry Reagan| Robin Robinson| Lisa Sheppard| Reecy Thornton| Wayne W. Wood

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