New Story: Round Marsh (by the Willie Browne Trail)

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

People have theorized Round Marsh the result of a meteor, others that it’s the remains of a British rice paddy and a 4,000 year old cypress pond. Willie Browne led friends on hikes around the pond and archaeologists have combed its shores. The World War II airplane and its pilot, meanwhile, are still in the marshes to the north. Willie Browne often said he could hear “the thunder of horsemen racing by in the distance,” when no one was there.

The Strange Story of Slappey’s Town of Ghent Motel

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Here’s the strange story of Slappey’s Town of Ghent Motel. The sailor claimed to have built it for his “war bride” to remind her of her hometown. He had the wrong town. A naked man, fleeing Slappey’s, once disrupted church services next door. Police activity at Slappey’s ranged from gambling raids to murder.

LaVilla’s Progress Furniture Company

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Climb the stairs and see there’s more missing than remains of 318 Broad Street. Bernie would tell you, at Progress Furniture Company, 80 years ago, “Buy or Sell…We Treat You Well.” His father was one of two Romanian Jewish immigrants in Jacksonville named Isador Moskovitz. This collapsing commercial building provides a microcosm of decimated and mostly vanished LaVilla. A thistle blooms in bricks near the roof.

Revisiting Jacksonville’s Trisect, Public Art Milestone

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

It was the first piece of public art in Jacksonville in 50 years. The city seemed hostile. It stood before public housing, not in a public park in a tony neighborhood. Jax roasted it, but the elderly residents in architect Ted Pappas’s new tower behind it loved it. Almost 50 years later, sculptor Carl Andree Davidt’s Trisect sculpture still interrogates the city.

Spiritual Lighthouse Church

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

It was home, in the old days, to Southern preaching, bluegrass mandolin, and séances. Bluegrass gospel musicians Billie and Gordon Hamrick were staunch  Southern Baptists, but Billie had “psychic visions.” The line of Spiritualist pastors here, almost all women, dates back to training by the famous psychic Edgar Cayce. In one of Jill Cook Richards’s first séances at the church, she says, her guardian angel came to her.

The Armory

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Truly this story has it all. The old Armory has stories enough for a hundred cities. There’s no way to tease it adequately. Urban exploration. Thousands of concerts, from opera to Janis Joplin and the Allman Brothers. Political debates and politicians’ funerals and boxing bouts. Stories of integration (James Weldon Johnson, Duke Ellington, Marian Anderson) defiant against Jim Crow. And a call for a future.

The Mystery House at Atlantic/Neptune Beach

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Supposedly the hurricane tossed the house back up on the beach that way and rather than tearing it down, some smalltime Barnum charged admission. At the beginnings of a town called Neptune, the “Mysterious House” stood out beyond the dunes. Inside, gravity went askew. You felt like you were walking up the wall.

The Bodies Left Behind in Billy Goat Hill

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

A hundred years after the bodies were moved, workers digging immediately north of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral found skeletons. Four decades later, other workers found skulls. Is anybody still down there? These are the kinds of things that can happen when you work in older parts of a city, he said.

New Story: Gary’s Ice Cream / Creamette

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

First JaxPsychoGeo story of 2021. The photographer John Margolies made Gary’s Ice Cream famous. But who was Gary? Why can nobody remember? And what happened to him? What was Margolies after, driving more than 100,000 miles to take pictures of places like Slappey’s Town of Ghent Motel, the Beaches Drive-In and Gary’s? And why does history care about ice cream?

New Story: St. Elmo “Chic” Acosta House

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

When the old man fired his gun over the boy’s head for stealing oranges, the future city commissioner said one day Armstrong’s house would be his. He bought it in 1911. St. Elmo “Chic” Acosta was arrested in 1924 on “false charges” of keeping a “disorderly house” and indicted in 1933 for giving away the city’s “sack of potatoes” and a mule. He made enemies easily, but always fought for urban “beautification.” After the Acostas donated the house in 1966, it became the artistic heart of Episcopal School of Jacksonville.