Whether the Beacon Motel Haunts the Waterford Condos

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Where Condo Row marches along Jax Beach, yesterday’s motel dreams occasionally trickle to the surface. Where the Waterford stands, once stood the Beacon Motel. It was here a Toledo carnie named Billy Elledge, “Willie the Kid,” tied up the proprietors and committed his third murder in 36 hours. Few Waterford residents have heard the rumors the building is haunted. Bob Kelsey dreamt a big bird picked up the Beacon and dropped it in the ocean.

Remembering Craig Morris

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In praise of Craig Morris, who passed away on September 22nd. Craig spent his career here at the 46,000 acre Timucuan Preserve. This place had called him. He’d never forgotten the vision. When he was a child, having just moved into a Fort Caroline subdivision, he went for a walk and saw “human bones by the hundreds eroding out of the bluff.” He honored them his whole life.

New Story: Part Two–River House Apartments/Riverside House/Rochester House

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The only remaining hotel from when Jax was “Winter City in Summer Land,” it survives because it shipped on a barge up the river. The nephew of Walter Percy, the great Southern novelist, a cardiologist, has called the old hotel home for 40 years. Few neighbors have spoken with him, but they hear him play the piano. If this house played some small part in Mary Todd Lincoln’s losing her mind, Rachel recalls it as the house of love, art, warmth and creativity. 

New Story: Part One–River House Apartments/Riverside House/Rochester House

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Mary Todd Lincoln stayed in this Riverside house when it was located in Brooklyn and called Rochester House. After four months, she fled Jacksonville in the midst of a nervous breakdown. It’s one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood and the last of the hotels from the city’s Victorian tourist age. The nephew of a great Southern novelist has lived here for 40 years. Rachel remembers fondly her very own “River House ghost story.” Click below for part one of the story.

 

New Story: Collins Road Christian Academy

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My desk stood against this wall. Now there’s no roof above it. How could I not have known about the fire? This is the school I attended near the ends of both my mother’s life and my innocence. Here, I fell for a Filipina and my classmate’s death rocked the school. Even as all our righteousness was nothing but “filthy rags,” wickedness, in the menacing form of popular culture, knocked at the doors. Oh, but there was Popcorn Day!

The Story of Lord Ranch, Old Kings Road

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People say the old meatpacking plant and farmhouse is haunted. Lavaughn Lord worked as hard in the slaughterhouse as Charlie and there was no ranch work her husband did that she wouldn’t do. It was, in part, the pain that drove them out to Old Kings Road. It seems strange that Charles, Jr. never knew the ranch that people associated with his family for 40 years.

Vote, 2020, against the Terrorist Tactics of 1920

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It’s been 100 years. Since women got the right to vote. Since Eartha White ran that registration drive. Since the Ku Klux Klan marched in intimidation parades all over Florida. Tiny Eartha White stood up against a terrorist giant. Klan members hid behind patriotism and appeals to “law and order.” Local newspapers wrote of the Klan with reverence and mystery. Across Florida, people died for wanting to vote. Across the United States, people wrote of what happened in Jacksonville. If you find yourself intimidated this election year, think of Eartha White. This story ends on an up note. Click below for it.

The Oldest House at Atlantic Beach: The Christopher / Bull / Hionides House

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It’s the oldest house at Atlantic Beach, its original owner’s “party house,” home to the family of the town’s first mayor for seven decades, to the Hionides family for three. Here the fate of black Manhattan Beach played out and the mysterious Jax blues musician Sugar Underwood played at dances. Inside, bright sunlight coruscates across golden heartwood pine. Outside, grandchildren run up from the ocean.

New Story: Community Loaves / Rosenberger House

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The Rosenberger House stands still, but its lives have circuited great distances. Now it’s the new home for Community Loaves. This old brick Murray Hill house would never have been built but for those immigrants from Germany and that Pittsburgh streetcar tragedy. Community Loaves would never have revived this former boarding house but for Meredith’s environmentalism and her “woofing” on farms across the ocean. From the Rosenbergers’ pets and “the best mouser in Murray Hill” to the best birthday cake in town, click here for the full story.

New Story: Casa Marina Hotel at Jacksonville Beach

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The other beach hotels all burned. Whichever presidents stayed here, and whether or not Jean Harlow and Al Capone did, the history of the Casa Marina at Jacksonville Beach includes an organ grinder and monkey, a vanished penthouse octagon bedroom, Victorian lace blouses and kolinsky furs. Here, Rachel and Dan shared wedding vows with their six year old son, a thousand ambitious business plans expanded and deflated, and the old building’s savior had his ashes spread into the ocean by surfboard.