The Mystery House at Atlantic/Neptune Beach

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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

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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

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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

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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.

50 Years Ago, Willie Browne Died

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This week marks 50 years since Willie Browne died. The hermit was famous in his own time, but his gift of hundreds of acres to The Nature Conservancy has made him a kind of conservationist saint. If you visited his cabin in what’s now the Theodore Roosevelt Area of the Timucuan Preserve, he always knew when you’d stepped onto his land.

The Strange Twisting Histories of Marabanong

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The history of the vast Victorian house called Marabanong includes women astronomers and suffragists, poets and painters, fictional pirates and peacocks, widow’s walks and underground passages. The 144 year old house has five levels, a corner tower, 121 windows and more stories than anyone can count.

Ribault’s Column: Four Centuries of Stories

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The story of French explorer Jean Ribault’s column claims four centuries of pagan revelries, from the Timucuan Indians to Sandalwood High School students. Though much of the fact is fiction, truth obtains in the myth, like the artifacts in Ribault’s recently discovered shipwreck, from first kisses to suicide to Ribault’s execution on the beach.

New Story: Architect Ted Pappas’s Design for St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church

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The first solo design for architect Ted Pappas, son of Greek immigrants, was the new home of the city’s Greek Orthodox church. The history of St. John the Divine reflects the history of the Greek community in Jacksonville. The icon screen, built by George Doro a century ago, moved to Pappas’s postmodern design from the original church, a historic landmark demolished for a parking lot. Now, a new congregation has saved this sanctuary for another generation.

New Story: Poisoning Durkeeville: Fairfax Street Wood Treaters / Howard Feed Mills / American Motors Export Company

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It’s a story of an automobile empire that never was, of a “Mediterranean-style” town vetoed by the Great Depression, of a wood treatment facility that poisoned a black neighborhood for 30 years. The multiple lives of the old American Motors Export Building still haunt these 12 acres in the middle of Durkeeville.

New Story: Durkeeville: Kennelly Building; Ballot Cures, ‘Black Votes Matter,’ ‘Red Ball Building’ Goes Blue

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The story of the Black Votes Matter mural includes the stories of curing mail-in ballots with signature problems, of the “Mamas of the Movement” and the men and women memorialized in “In-Justice ‘N Jacksonville,” of environmental justice, of painting blue the former business HQ of a conservative Jax politician who opposed taxes and bussing. It’s about bearing witness.