The Long Surprising History of The Voo-Swar

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For years Atlantic Beach didn’t want the Voo-Swar, even tried to shut it down. Earnest Davis had built this restaurant and lounge by hand. He saw how black sailors were treated when they came into town. “And so I said, ‘I’m gonna build a place and give ’em a place to come.” Eventually, he’d bring this beach town together in ways few others ever had.

The Dramatic Story of the Pappas Building

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It was architect Ted Pappas’s artistic self-portrait. It’s when the State of Florida decided people, and neighborhoods, mattered less than cars and through-traffic. It’s also a mystery. Why Pappas salvaged the stones and where he placed them. What else do you do when your city shoots itself through the art you bequeathed it? I’ll be damned if there’s not hope still.

New Story: Hogan’s Creek Tower

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Who were they, these women in these earliest photographs? Who called this tower their “poor man’s penthouse”? Opened in 1976, Hogan’s Creek Tower, designed by architect Ted Pappas, is one of Jacksonville’s best examples of Brutalism. Like any community, it has its stories. Like the resident who wandered away and spent his 100th Christmas meandering for 17 hours across the city.

New Story: Riverview & T.K. Stokes Boat Ramp

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It’s where Tedesha Richardson goes for “peace” and “spiritual release.” Even though when Dr. E.H. Armstrong founded the neighborhood of Riverview in the 19-teens, she wouldn’t have been allowed here. Even though Armstrong was a bit of a con man. Even though cars with “human remains” are pulled out of river here. On this dock, Tedesha feels on top of the world.

Two Stories for Mother’s Day

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Two weird little stories for Mother’s Day. About two memorials to Patricia Ann Lynch Austin, former Jax first lady, one memorial missing a tree, the other accidentally raising hard questions about motherhood. My mother always encouraged my writing. She died three quarters of my life ago. Hopefully she’d like these two weird little stories.

Here’s the first: https://jaxpsychogeo.com/the-center-of-the-city/mother-and-child-sculpture-downtown/

& here’s the second: https://jaxpsychogeo.com/west-riverside-avondale/willowbranch-park-and-cenotaph-for-dogwood/

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The Strange Florida Gothic Epic of Kelnepa

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The original house exists beneath the house poured on top. Raymond Saleeba remembers his grandmother’s Lebanese cooking and playing with his siblings here as the happiest times in his life. The strangeness came later, with the house redubbed “Tuscan River Estate.” The sports car bought with worthless stock. Multi-million dollar con jobs. Brides who had to find other venues for their weddings.

New Story: Schools Named for Confederates and the Demise of Manhattan Beach

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Joseph Finegan Elementary School, named for a Confederate general, stands where segregated black Manhattan Beach once was. White developers said they wanted “Negroes removed from the oceanfront” and the one business whose family didn’t sell was destroyed in a “mysterious fire.” So, “what’s in a name?” Juliet asked. 

The Bass House and Its Ghost

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It’s the story of how two retired schoolteachers became friends, the one whose great-grandfather built the house a century ago and the one who lives there now. There’s the story of two great-uncles, stepbrothers who disliked each other and fought over the house. And there’s the story of the ghost who came down the stairs at night.

New Story: Epping Forest

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Epping Forest is the grandest historic estate in Jacksonville. Well known, the summits of world leaders here. Well known, its original owner’s personal manipulation of banking in the Great Depression. Why, however, did Alfred Dent believe his grandmother, Jessie Ball duPont, and her brother, Edward Ball, had murdered his grandfather, Alfred duPont? Also, what’s up with the pelicans and squirrels and vampire faces?

New Story: Doty Apartments/Red Cannon’s Barbershop/Ted Pappas Associates

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Here was Red Cannon’s political hq. Here, that old jazz musician once lived. Here, indictments against city officials arrived. Here, the young architect Ted Pappas opened his first office. In the Doty Apartment Building were cigar packers and tax collectors, attorneys and physicians. It’s history is as full and diverse as that of a city.