The Courier May 2015Vol. I, Issue III ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR ~ Board elections signal changes and recall our founding year In the non-profit


The Courier


May 2015

Vol. I, Issue III




Board elections signal changes and recall our founding year

In the non-profit world, there are many “end of the year” dates of importance. There is a calendar year- end; the society’s fiscal year-end each September 30; and the organization’s board year-end that occurs at the May membership and program meeting. This May date signals board elections and leadership changes. The date is also an integral part of JHS history since the organization’s founding on May 3, 1929 on the 28th anniversary of Jacksonville’s 1901 Fire.

At the Thursday, May 28 meeting and program new board members will be elected. While it’s always exciting to welcome board members, we also thank those board members who have served and are leaving the board. A huge thank you to Carl Wood (Skip) Brown, Hazel Mack, Matt Carlucci, Joann Purdie and Debra Tinsley. All of these board members stand as champions of our organization and mission.

Nominated for re-election to the board and a three-year term are Doug Milne, Beth Hohl Asbury, Christina Parrish, and Lisa Sheppard. Also nominated for a three year term and new to the board are Robert Hennigar and Alan Bliss. The membership votes on these nominees at the May 28 program meeting. Immediately following that vote, the board elects officers.

And, of course, I thank the membership. Without you, there would be no Jacksonville Historical Society. I hope to see you at the annual meeting featuring an outstanding program on mining in Florida with Fred Pirkle, PhD.

Thank you Robin Robinson for enthusiastic and innovative leadership

On May 28, Robin Robinson steps down as JHS President following two years in the role and she will continue to serve on the board. Under Robin’s leadership, exciting new membership expansion ideas were adopted; an 1822 Fund was formed to support historic structures and more; and last Thursday Robin unveiled a new JHS logo at an outreach event which Robin developed with board member Pat Andrews. It is hoped similar neighborhood outreach events will be replicated throughout Jacksonville. We thank Robin and Pat for developing an outstanding prototype.

In addition, Robin has been a dedicated and tireless fundraiser and promoter of the society and its mission. She chaired the first JHS Gingerbread Extravaganza, setting us on a path of financial solvency. As an author and resident of San Marco, she’s documented area history with her book, Southbank Sojourn. She also continues to report the city’s history with her regular columns in the Resident. On behalf of the board and the membership, I thank Robin for her dedicated service and abiding commitment to the JHS.



JHS 450th exhibit and 15 others honored by Preservation Commission

Jacksonville Historical Society was honored by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission on May 7 for outstanding achievement in heritage education. More specifically, the society was recognized for its June 2014 event and exhibit at City Hall to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the French settlement of La Caroline.

The week long exhibit included original artwork from the society’s archival repository; a replica of the monument believed placed near the mouth of the St. Johns by Jean Ribault; relics from Ribault shipwrecks that had not been previously exhibited in Jacksonville; a timeline of the French in North Florida from 1562 to 1568, and a contemporary exhibit of Timucua images.

As part of the event, on June 30th, University of North Florida professors, Keith Ashley and Robert Thunen presented, "Where is Fort Caroline Anyway? Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Fort Caroline’s Location".

Dignitaries, including the Consul General of France in Florida, Philippe Letrilliart, attended the event and dressed as Ribault was (then) Council President Bill Gulliford; other Councilmen in French attire were Don Redman, Bill Bishop, and John Cresimbeni. Stephen Joost appeared in Spanish attire.

Among other winners in the Heritage Education category were Barbara Tepa Lupack for her book, Richard Norman and Race Film Making; Dr. Daniel Schafer for his book, Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. and the Atlantic World: Slave Trader, Plantation Owner, Emancipator; and Taylor and Jo Hardwick for Taylor Hardwick: 60 Years of Design.

Jacksonville Historical Society member Lyn Corley took home a Preservation Commission award for her oral history project, Conversations from Mayport. The 431 pages of transcribed material, the recordings, and associated images were generously given to the Jacksonville Historical Society by Lyn. Lyn also received the Florida Historical Society’s statewide award, The Samuel Proctor Award for her project.

Recognized with the “Great Save” award was the relocation and preservation plans for a 126-year-old one-room Mandarin school once used to educate black children. The school, placed at the city’s Walter Jones Historical Park in January, will be managed by the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society. The group raised thousands to secure and restore the building. The Mandarin Community Club purchased the school and donated it to the park, and Councilman Matt Schellenberg provided designated City Council funding for the project.

To read about all of the 16 award winning projects, click here.



Joann's efforts have been crucial to sustain the JHS

Joann Purdie serves the Historical Society quietly, yet her projects and successes are big!

For five years she has captured the board meeting record as secretary and Executive Board member -- no simple task. In addition, for the past three years, Joann has served at the helm of the society's most demanding public event, the Gingerbread Extravaganza. She served first as operation manager and during the past two years as chair. In these roles, Joann was highly creative, organized, devoted, and tireless. The fundraising efforts, $30,000 this past year, have been crucial to sustain our mission.

With Joann's leadership, the signature Gingerbread Extravaganza continues to grow. Started by the Rotary and turned over to the Jacksonville Historical Society in 2011, the Extravaganza is a beloved holiday tradition. Joann revised and streamlined the event's operating and storage system, worked with Junior League Sustainers to bring the Festival of Trees to the Extravaganza and created a warm and exciting environment for the thousands of visitors who attend. Along the way, the history component is not forgotten -- creating an event that compliments and promotes North Florida history.

The Jacksonville Historical Society By-laws include a provision that limits consecutive board service, and under these provisions, Joann is not able to serve in the new board year that begins this month. She has graciously agreed to take on the demanding role of Gingerbread Extravaganza operating manager for 2015.

Joann's family claims a long involvement in the JHS. Joann's father, the late Dr. Emmet Ferguson served as president of the Jacksonville Historical Society. Her brother, Judge Emmet Ferguson is a past board member and her mother has been a society member for decades.

The staff, board and members of the Jacksonville Historical Society applaud this very special team member. While deeply grateful for her hundreds and hours of work and thousands of dollars in JHS revenue, for everyone who works with Joann, the rewards are far greater -- there is simply no one more fun to work with than Joann Purdie! Joann, we salute you...a valued "team member" and a true Jacksonville treasure.



Spanish Restaurant menu provides nostalgia

by Associate Director & Archivist, Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

Supporter par excellence and JHS past president Phil May Jr. recently donated a menu of the Spanish Restaurant. The restaurant, located at 828 E. Adams St. was owned by Juan and Cristobal Calvo. A cursory research of the restaurant using Polk’s City Directory shows that restaurant opened sometime in 1920 and was in operation until 1949. In the 1932 city directory Juan is living in Santander, Spain while Cristobal resides locally with his wife Margaret. By 1950 the restaurant had closed its doors and Margaret Calvo appears in the city directory as being a widow.

After reading the menu, which is handwritten in Spanish, I wished the Spanish Restaurant was still in operation. Imagine starting your meal with an appetizer of sardines, followed by Galician soup, mixed salad and Andalusian pig’s feet. These might not seem appetizing to you, but I, who was raised in Puerto Rico, had wonderful memories of soups so thick you could eat with a fork, and stewed pig’s feet served over rice and chick peas so tender that they would fall off the bone. Reading through this menu makes me a little home sick. Maybe I need to cook some Spanish food this week-end!!

To view the Spanish Restaurant Menu and other items in the collection, please visit the archives at 314 Palmetto Street, Tuesday - Thursday 10:00am to 4:30pm.



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Leah Mary Cox

Leah Mary Cox exhibit opening

The dynamic images of Leah Mary Cox clearly impressed the 75+ visitors at the May 6th Old St. Luke’s opening of Leah Mary Cox: An Intimate Perspective. The largely photographic exhibit, selected from more than 4,000 Cox glass plate images in the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives, highlights the city’s people and places. The event was also an opportunity for members and visitors to see the 1878 hospital, now home of the JHS Archival Repository.

Also on exhibit are items typical of the period or used by Leah Cox, including a black box camera, a glass plate negative and a hat designed and created by Cox. While Leah Cox was known as an amateur photographer, professionally she worked as a dressmaker and a milliner. The resulting photographs from the glass plates have been called “the best large collection of North Florida images.”

Susan Masucci, grand niece of Cox was the event’s guest of honor. Susan and her husband, Ron Masucci, donated the glass plate negatives to the society—along with Leah’s personal hat!

The exhibit remains open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Old St. Luke’s, 314 Palmetto Street, or phone, 665-0064.

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James E. Merrill House

JHS Merrill Museum House open for tours!

Our new, excited and energetic volunteer docent team keeps the house open selected days each week

Take a trip back to Victorian-era Jacksonville with your family, friends or co-workers and learn about one of the most important families in Jacksonville, the Merrills.

Please check the website for available tour days and to reserve your spot.

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The James E. Merrill House is a museum house created and operated by the Jacksonville Historical Society.




Henry Buckman & George Pritchard prospecting for minerals. Mineral City, 1955

Don't Miss the May Program!

The May program and annual meeting, Mining for Florida History: All Buried Treasure Is Not Owned By Pirates!, is this Thursday, May 28th at Old St. Andrews. A reception begins at 6:30pm followed by the program at 7pm. Fred Pirkle, PhD will present North Florida's mining history.



Old St. Andrew's Church

Old St. Andrews is the largest pre-1901 house of worship in Jacksonville. It was constructed in 1887 by architect Robert S. Schuyler and opened for Easter Service in 1888.

By the 1970s, however, the once populous residential area around the church had faded, the congregation had moved to a new church in Arlington, and the building had fallen into disuse and disrepair. Vacant for over a decade, the building was one of the most perplexing challenges facing local preservationists. Ironically, the Jacksonville Jaguars helped save it.

With the arrivalof the NFL football team, the city government purchased much of the land around the newly constructed stadium, including the Old St. Andrews site. The Jacksonville Historical Society was given the rights to the building if it could restore it. Thanks to the city’s cooperation and a challenge grant from Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, the JHS was able to raise a million dollars to complete the restoration of the old church to use as its headquarters. Old St. Andrews stands proudly today as one of the finest specimens of nineteenth-century architecture in Duval County, and it is a popular spot for meetings, weddings and other civic events.

Editor's note: The original bell is now located at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Arlington.




Painting by Donald G. Ingram

May 1, 1562: Captain Jean Ribault, searching for a site for a Huguenot colony, commanded an expedition to the New World anchoring at a bluff on the south bank of the St. Johns River. He described what he saw as "the fairest, frutefullest and pleasantest of all the worlds. The sight of the faire-meadows is a pleasure not able to be expressed by tongue." The French called the river Riviere de Mai or the River of May. The picture to the right shows Ribault falling to his knees and offering a prayer of Thanksgiving at the shores of the River May.


FTU Headline, May 4, 1901. The glare of the fire could be seen from Savannah and smoke visible in Raleigh.

May 3, 1901: In an eight-hour period, a fire swept over 466 acres and 146 city blocks destroying 2,368 buildings, including 23 churches and 10 hotels. Every public building except the Post Office and Federal Building on Hogan Street burned. The property damage was estimated at $15 million. The Great Fire of 1901 is the largest metropolitan fire ever to occur in the South, and the third largest city fire in the nation's history. Despite the devastation, only seven deaths occurred although 8,677 citizens were left homeless. By Monday, May 6th, the rebuilding of Jacksonville began.

May 3, 1929: "In the spring of...1929, a small group of Jacksonville citizens met to discuss the organization of a local historical society. In order to stimulate interest, invitations were sent to several hundred Jacksonville residents, thought by the be interested in local history, inviting them to become charter members of the organization. These invitations stated that the name of the organization would be The Jacksonville Historical Society, and that the first meeting would be held in the Carling (later the Roosevelt) Hotel on May 3, 1929, at 8:30 p.m. All who joined the society at or before that meeting would be deemed charter members. Similar invitations were extended to all interested persons, through the local newspapers.

As a result of these efforts, over two hundred charter members were enrolled by the evening set for the first meeting. At this meeting on May 3, 1929 – itself a notable date in local history, since it was the 28th anniversary of the Great Fire of May 3, 1901 – a large and enthusiastic gathering put in an appearance."

From “History of the Jacksonville Historical Society,” by Herbert Lamson in the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Papers I.

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The JHS placed a marker on the exterior of the Carling at a 75th anniversary event.


The Carling Hotel, circa 1929.

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The Jacksonville Light Infantry was involved in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I. Photo circa 1890s. From the Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

May 12th, 1898: "The Jacksonville Light Infantry, organized in 1857, left for Tampa for training for the Spanish-American War. Almost the entire town turned out to wish both the Light Infantry and Jacksonville Rifles good luck. The roster for the Rifles was 106 and for the Infantry, 91. All of these men volunteered for service in the Spanish-American War. Although the Jacksonville Light Infantry did not see combat during the Spanish-American War, they were shipped overseas during WWI as a company of the 1st Separate Battalion." - Speech given by JJ Daniel at UNF, March 21, 1981

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Soldiers drilled on Ionia Street in East Springfield.

May 22nd, 1898: "The 2nd Illinois and the 1st Wisconsin regiments, arrived on this evening at Camp Cuba Libre before the start of the Spanish American War. Camp Cuba Libre was in East Springfield, located between Ionia Street and the Fernandina railroad and 3rd and 8th Streets. By June 4th, General Fitzhugh Lee designated Jacksonville as headquarters of the 7th Army Corps and officially named the camp, 'Cuba Libre'."
-- From the The History of Jacksonville, Florida and Vicinity by T. Frederick Davis

May 30, 1918: "While the band played the Star Spangled Banner and while hundreds of people waived their hats and handkerchiefs and cheered, the 3,500-ton "composite" steamer Red Cloud, the first Government ship to be launched at Jacksonville and the first of the type in the South for the Emergency Fleet Corporation, was launched by the Merrill-Stevens Corporation at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. As soon as the ship left the ways the keel for another was laid in the same place in exactly nine minutes, breaking the American ship building record."
--From the History of Jacksonville, Florida and Vicinity by T. Frederick Davis


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

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