City approves donating Children’s Museum land
The City Commission recommended that land be donated at Dallas Thomas Park along the Southbank of the St. Johns River for construction of a new children’s museum. The proposal also was supported by the Jacksonville-Duval Planning Board.
Commissioners were unanimous in approving the proposal by Commissioner George Carrison to provide land to build a museum with about 30,000 square feet of floor space. The building would be in the southeast corner of the park, near the marina, and just behind the pumping station for Friendship Fountain.
Carrison said an organization had assured museum officials that it would raise $100,000 for construction of the new facility.
In 1967, the children’s museum was in an old renovated home on Riverside Avenue.
“We will build you a wonderful, exciting museum that will bring many people to Jacksonville,” said museum President Frances Chalmers.
Carrison said the new museum would be built not with tax money, but instead with private donations.
Patient starts 2-alarm fire at Duval Medical Center
A number of patients had to be evacuated at Duval Medical Center when a patient set eight beds on fire, causing a two-alarm blaze in a psychiatric ward on the second floor of the Memorial Unit. No one was reported injured.
Fire Chief A.J. Jackson said the fire started when a patient left in the ward, set his bed sheets on fire with a book of matches. A nurse said the matches were probably brought into the ward by a visitor, because patients in the ward were not allowed to have them.
The patient who started the fire blocked the entrance to the ward with another bed, preventing a second patient from leaving, a nurse told fire officials.
As smoke drifted about the second and third floors, nurses pushed the door open and led the two patients downstairs. Most of the second-floor patients were listening to a talk in the physical therapy room on the ground floor when the fire started. “All the patients were very calm,” said Mary Davis, the nurse who was in charge of the second floor.
Beds were moved from the second floor to the first floor, where patients spent the night after the fire.
Jackson, who estimated the damage at between $5,000 and $10,000, said most of the fire damage was confined to the beds and smoke and water damage was limited to the second floor.
Greater Gateway Shopping Center opening
The Greater Gateway Shopping Center, described as “the Southeast’s largest,” opened a 32-store enclosed mall at Norwood Avenue and 44th Street.
In 1959, when the plaza opened, it comprised an L-shaped center. In 1966, a Montgomery Ward department store opened and later, a cover between the buildings was added to connect it with the rest of the center.
The enclosed, air-conditioned mall had a “golden terrazzo walkway” and was landscaped with tropical plants and a fountain.
The 32 stores faced the interior of the mall, which was lit by skylights during the day and chandeliers at night.
Present for the grand opening ceremony were city government and business leaders, including W. Ashley Verlander, president of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, who served as master of ceremonies.
“I think this is one of the greatest displays of faith in the future of Jacksonville that I have ever seen,” said City Council President R. Laverne Reynolds.
The ribbon was cut by William Batten, chairman of the board and CEO of J.C. Penney Co.
The retailer had moved into a larger store in the mall from another location in the center.
“Jacksonville has been very good to J.C. Penney and we want you to know that we have faith in the city,” Batten said