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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 15, 201012:00 PM EST

50 years ago this week

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Completion date set for new City Hall, metal theft crime wave

Have you ever wondered what life was like in Jacksonville half a century ago? It may have been a different era of history, culture and politics but there are often parallels between the kind of stories that made headlines then and today. As interesting as the differences may be, so are the similarities. These are some of the top stories from the week of March 15-21, 1960. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.

• City officials set Oct. 1 as the target date for occupying the new City Hall under construction on Bay Street.

S.L. Hodge, superintendent for the contractor, the Auchter Company, said he expected exterior work to be completed by April 1. Hodge also said the project was about 60 days behind schedule due to a combination of factors, including shipment delays, unforeseen difficulties with the foundation, minor labor trouble and a steel strike.

The Oct. 1 target date was set by City Auditor John Hollister Jr., who had the task of coordinating the purchase of furniture and other equipment. He said estimates of the furniture needs had not been received from all of the departments to be housed in the building, so he did not know whether the $300,000 appropriation for furnishings would be adequate.

• A bronze cherub that once was part of a stone monument in Springfield Park spent its 50th birthday in a tool house. It was noted that the fountain on which the cherub once stood was also 50 years old but also that “time and vandalism have left their marks.”

The cherub was the work of sculptor C. Adrian Pillars, who also created the memorial statue to World War I dead in Memorial Park and a life-size statue of William Boyd Barnett which stood in the Barnett National Bank.

On March 15, 1910, the Springfield Improvement Association dedicated the cherub monument to its first president, Mrs. B.F. Dillon, in a ceremony at the Third and Silver streets corner of the park.

The marble fountain was completely clogged and only stagnant rain water stood in it. The marble base, which at one time had been a water source for thirsty dogs, was filled with grass and dirt.

City Parks Superintendent C.F. Carlton said the statue had been removed and stored because it had become a favorite target of vandals more than 10 years earlier. The cherub was originally stored in a much-used storeroom protected by a simple lock but was subsequently relocated to the tool shed after several people expressed interest in acquiring it for scrap metal.

• Police reported burglars looted the St. Johns Foundry and Machine Company of more than a ton of metal. H.G. Ivey, co-owner of the firm, said the missing metal was valued at $2,625 and consisted of about 2,500 pounds of brass and 125 pounds of cast aluminum.

Also, someone removed a statue of Martha Washington from its place at the entrance to the George Washington Hotel. Manager Arthur Kloeppel Jr. valued the filched ferrite in the image of the first first lady at $300.

• The Pearce-Uible Company purchased a 200-acre tract of land eight miles east of Downtown between Atlantic and Beach boulevards, for more than $600,000.

Frank C. Uible, president of the company, said the land would be used for residential construction.

He said plans for homes on the new tract were “currently on the drawing board” but did reveal that approximately 200 homes would be built in a price range between $17,000 and $24,000.

The property was about 3.5 miles west of another Pearce-Uible development, Sandalwood.

• The City Commission took a step toward selling Herlong Airport and using the proceeds to build a “jet-age passenger terminal” to replace Imeson Airport.

The commissioners obligated the City to devote all proceeds from Herlong’s sale to the development, improvement or operation of a public airport. Doing so was required by the Federal Aviation Agency because Herlong had been deeded to the City by the federal government and without the decree from the commission the FAA would not permit the sale.

The document relayed to the FAA justifying the sale stated in part, “The FAA and its predecessor have been critical of the physical characteristics surrounding the city’s main commercial Imeson Airport. Studies and surveys have indicated it is more feasible to acquire other property and build a new airport than to attempt to expand the existing facility.”

During the discussion about the obligation, Airports Commissioner Louis H. Ritter pointed out the sale of Herlong Airport had drawn protests from the Jacksonville Chapter of the Florida Aero Club.

The commission also appropriated $3,150 to send eight City officials to New York City to prepare for the March 29 sale of $2.5 million of certificates of indebtedness to finance a municipal auditorium.

The commissioners voted $400 expense money each to Commissioners Claude Smith and Louis H. Ritter, City Attorney William Madison, City Auditor John Hollister Jr. and Council members Clyde Cannon, John Lanahan and Ralph Walter. They also approved a $350 expenditure to send Harry Fozzard, special council attorney, along on the trip.

• County Solicitor Lacy Mahon Jr. filed charges in Criminal Court against 20 men arrested by sheriff’s deputies following the raid of a poker game in Marietta.

J. Willard Whitaker of 512 Jackson Road, owner of the property where the raid was conducted, was charged with operating a gambling room. He faced a three-year jail term if convicted on the felony count. The other 19 arrested were charged by Mahon with either gambling or vagrancy, both misdemeanor charges.

• “Substantial repairs and improvements” to the main U.S. Post Office building were authorized by the General Services Administration.

The improvements would include caulking and painting the building’s exterior and painting the window frames. Repairs would include replacement of the wooden loading platform floor on the west side of the building with a concrete floor and installation of new concrete floors in the mailing vestibules leading to the platform. Also included in the plan was refurbishing two federal courtrooms on the fifth floor and a considerable amount of interior painting.

It was estimated the cost of the improvement would be about $40,000.

The improvements would complete a $1 million “modernization” program that also included complete air conditioning of the building and the installation of four “automatic elevators.”

• The Jacksonville Kennel Club celebrated its 26th anniversary March 17 with a “Birthday Party” program. Admission was free and prices at the track, programs and concession merchandise were rolled back to the level of 26 years earlier.

Entries for the featured “Birthday” handicap race were Left Oblique, Gold Trek, We Try, Muffie Doll, Kinda Red, Society Jean, Classic Kay and Pot Black.

• The initial meeting and rehearsal for a new musical group, tentatively called the Jacksonville Concert Chorale, was held at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church.

The group was chartered as a nonprofit civic, cultural and educational organization for the development of singing talent and presentation of choral concerts and musical performances, said Cantor Michael S. Soloway, a member of the organizational committee.

Clem Boatwright, head of the Forrest High School music department and conductor of the Jacksonville Youth Chorus, was engaged as musical director for the group.

• The City Police Department launched a search for a room in order to help a man who arrived in Jacksonville from New York on his way to Lakeland.

Seventy-five year old Timothy Lynch told Patrolman F.A. Starling he wanted to spend a week here before returning to his home in Lakeland. He rented a room in the Downtown area of Liberty Street and paid his rent one week in advance. Lynch left his suitcase and all of his belongings in the room when he went out for a haircut and groceries. After buying his food, he couldn’t remember the location of the rooming house.

Starling escorted Lynch on Liberty Street for about two hours but the traveler failed to recognize the rooming house, so the officer got Lynch temporary quarters at another rooming house at 411 E. Forsyth St. while the investigation continued.

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