The Historic Sites Committee of the Jacksonville Historical Society released its 2021 list of Jacksonville’s endangered historic properties.
“Historic sites and properties matter to Jacksonville’s people. When historic buildings – such as the Eagle Laundry Building, the Doro Fixtures Company building, and the Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home in the past year, for example – are demolished by fire, forces of nature or man, we erase another part of the culture, history, and life stories that form our Jacksonville,” said Alan Bliss, historical society CEO, in a news release.
“Historic places lend authenticity to their surroundings, making us all more invested as citizens. In addition, data proves that historic preservation adds value by strengthening economic development. Recognizing this, the Jacksonville Historical Society advocates for preservation through its annual Endangered Historic Properties list.”
Seventeen structures along with five buildings owned by Duval County Public Schools made this year’s annual endangered list:
Eartha M.M. White Youth Recreation Center, 4850 Moncrief Road
Built in 1938 as a residence and museum in the Bungalow architectural style, the building included two adjacent columns with Doric capitals, reportedly rescued from a demolished Downtown building.
The structure includes pitched gable roofs, the use of native materials such as coquina, and rounded columns.
The original structure was expanded at least three times, with the largest and latest in 1972 to provide a recreation room for the Boys Club.
In 1993, the city Planning Department and the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission found that the property meets the minimum two out of the seven National Register criteria for landmarking: That it was associated with a person or persons who were significant in the development of the city, state or nation – in this case, Eartha Mary Magdalene White; and its suitability for preservation or restoration.
It also is one of the few buildings and houses remaining from the period when Moncrief Springs was a popular resort for the African American community.
Mount Olive AME Church, 841 Franklin St.
The first sanctuary of Mount Olive AME Church was a small wooden building constructed on the site in 1887, facing on Pippin Street.
By 1920 the congregation had outgrown the original structure. A.L. Lewis, the building committee chairman, selected plans drawn by Richard Brown, Jacksonville’s first African American architect, who died in 1948 at age 94.
Brown designed a building of concrete blocks, coarse textured on the basement level, rough-cut to simulate quarry stone on the upper two stories. The façade is dominated by three tapered columns on the portico at the main entrance.
Victorian duplexes, 316 and 320 Jefferson St.
The twin duplexes were built in 1906, according to the Duval County Property Appraiser.
Demonstrating the influence of the Queen Anne style, the buildings feature angled two-tier balconies and octagonal cupolas, gable roofs with decorative shingles, single siding, plaster interior walls and soft pine flooring. The duplexes are owned by the Clara White Mission.
First Baptist Church Sunday School Building, 125 W. Church St.
In 1926, the congregation of the First Baptist Church began construction of the six-story building.
Designed by Tennessee architect Reuben Harrison Hunt, it was said to be the second-largest Sunday school building in the world at that time. The upper story features ornate terra cotta ornaments, basket weave-patterned brickwork and paired windows within larger arches.
In 1938, the building was sold to the Gulf Life Insurance Co., which maintained it as its headquarters until it moved into a 27-story office tower on the Southbank in 1967.
First Baptist Church repurchased the building and has applied for its demolition to build an entrance plaza for the church’s historic sanctuary next door.
Universal Marion (JEA) Building, 21 W. Church St.
Built in 1963 and designed by Ketchum & Sharp, a New York architectural firm, its original major tenant was the Universal Marion Co. of Miami. Ivey’s Department Store occupied much of the two lower floors.
The 19-story skyscraper was the tallest building on the Northbank at the time of its construction and second-highest in the city after the Prudential Building. It featured a revolving restaurant on the top floor called The Embers.
Its current occupant, JEA, is building a new headquarters.
Post-Civil War cottage, 328 Chelsea St.
A large contingent of African American Union soldiers came to Jacksonville in 1864 during the town’s fourth occupation during the Civil War. A garrison of white and black Union soldiers was stationed in Brooklyn for several years after the war as part of a military occupation to restore order.
In 1868, Miles Price platted Brooklyn and began selling lots. Some of the Union veterans remained or returned to live in the neighborhood and were joined by former slaves, making the northwestern portion of Brooklyn a black residential community.
LaVilla shotgun houses, Jefferson Street
These “shotgun” houses were under construction near the Cleaveland Fiber Factory when the Great Fire of May 3, 1901, destroyed most of Jacksonville. They were damaged by the fire but survived.
Working people lived in the one-story homes in which one could shoot a shotgun straight down the long interior hallway and out the front door.
The city spent more than $100,000 to move the houses to Jefferson Street.
Dr. Horace Drew Mansion, 245 W. Third St.
Dr. Horace Drew, a physician and grandson of Jacksonville pioneer Columbus Drew, was the first owner and occupant of this Springfield house built around 1909.
The design borrows elements from the Tudor Revival, Queen Anne and Spanish Colonial Revival styles.
245 West 3rd St LLC is restoring the structure overlooking Klutho Park.
Claude Nolan Cadillac Building, 937 N. Main St.
Built in 1912, the Prairie-style building was designed by architect Henry Klutho for Claude Nolan, who started this Cadillac dealership in 1907.
In addition to founding the first automobile business in Jacksonville, Nolan is credited with originating the idea of selling automobiles on installments in 1910, a practice soon adopted by the industry.
Originally a Cadillac showroom, the building had a projecting cornice, large plate glass windows and horizontal and vertical lines. Although a remodeling in 1948 obscured the original facade, the basic structure of the original building is intact underneath.
JAX Brewing Company manufacturing plant, 1429 W. 16th St.
In 1913, German-born William Ostner, a brewer from St. Louis, moved to Jacksonville to start a brewery along West 16th Street, a few blocks from present-day Stanton College Preparatory High School.
It was the second brewery in the state and the last brewery to open in the U.S. before Prohibition.
Old Duval County Armory, 851 N. Market St.
Completed in 1916, the armory built for local National Guard troops was designed by architects Talley & Summer.
The building is fortress-like, with towers and parapets and an arched entrance at the center of the facade. A carved stone shield with the emblem of the Florida National Guard tops the central pavilion.
The name of the Duval County armory was changed in 1962 to the Maxwell G. Snyder Armory, honoring the commanding general of the National Guard’s 48th Armored Division. In 1973, the building became the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, now Parks, Recreation and Community Services.
In 2010, the department relocated to the Ed Ball Building, leaving the armory empty for the first time in its history.
Ford Motor Company assembly plant, Wambolt Street at the St. Johns River
Completed in 1924, the Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant is on a long quay that protrudes into the river and is supported by 8,000 piles.
It is one of more than 1,000 buildings designed for Henry Ford by Albert Kahn, an internationally recognized industrial architect.
Among the building’s features are its skylight panels, which extend several hundred feet in length and provide natural lighting and heat to the interior. Also, the sides of the building are made largely of glass.
The Ford Motor Company occupied the site until the late 1960s and it is in a deteriorated condition.
The building is at least 200 feet wide and 800 feet long, and records show it at 172,000 square feet, making it a large industrial building. Its location near the Sports Complex makes it a prime candidate for reuse.
Florida Baptist Convention Building, 218 W. Church St.
Built in 1924-25, this was the last Downtown office building designed by Henry Klutho. It was the first building of its kind in the nation for a state Baptist organization.
Empty for almost 30 years, it was purchased in 2020 by JWB Real Estate Capital LLC, which plans to convert it to mixed-use with commercial space on the ground floor and residential above.
Snyder Memorial Methodist Church, 226 N. Laura St.
Built in 1902-03, Snyder Memorial Methodist Church, across from James Weldon Johnson Park, formerly Hemming Park, was one of the first churches to be rebuilt after the 1901 fire.
Originally Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, the design is an example of Gothic Revival style.
It was designed by architect J.H.W. Hawkins and its exterior features detailed carved stone and stained-glass windows.
It is owned by the city but has remained vacant for most of the past decade.
Genovar’s Hall, 644 W. Ashley St.
Sebastian Genovar constructed the building in about 1895 for his grocery business and later a saloon. Its location at the intersection of Ashley and Jefferson streets was the heart of nightlife for LaVilla’s African American community during the 1920s and ’30s jazz era.
About 1931, Wynn’s Hotel opened in the building and was a favorite lodging place for visiting entertainers including Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles.
Now owned by the city, the building has been gutted although much of its original walls are still intact.
Wesley Manor (now Westminster Woods), 25 Florida 13
Designed by Jacksonville architect Robert Broward, Wesley Manor was the largest commission of his career and one of his most innovative.
Built as a senior-living facility, the original buildings have no need for stairs and have works of art by local artists integrated throughout.
A St. Johns County Planned Unit Development from 2015 calls for the demolition and replacement of nearly all of the Broward structures.
Annie Lytle Public School, 1011 Peninsular Place
Built in 1917 and designed by architect Rutledge Holmes, Public School No. 4 overlooked Riverside Park before construction of the Interstates 95 and 10 interchange isolated the building.
The dominant architectural feature of the school is a neoclassic pedimented portico supported by Doric columns at the entrance.
Vacant since the 1970s, the building has been threatened by demolition many times even though it has been declared a local historic landmark.
Duval County Public Schools buildings
The Jacksonville Historical Society included a special category of historic and architecturally significant public schools planned for demolition.
They are the Annie R. Morgan, Brentwood, Henry F. Kite, Ortega and Riverview elementary schools and Matthew Gilbert Middle School.
Photos are from the archives of the Jacksonville Historical Society, from the Wayne W. Wood Collection, from Florida Memory: State Library and Archives of Florida, by courtesy of Judy Davis, by courtesy of Clara White Mission, by courtesy of Mount Olive A.M.E., by courtesy of the City of Jacksonville; by George Lansing Taylor Jr. for the University of North Florida Digital Commons, Wayne W. Wood, TheJaxsonMag.com, and by Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo.
For more information, visit jaxhistory.org