The Buried Head Behind the Drew Mansion

Click below for the full story:

Something was down there. They knelt in the muck and bramble, peered closer, and finally one boy fished his fingers around in the hole and fell backward in fear.

Wire services reported that locals called it “the haunted house.” United Press International referred to it as “the Haunted House of Jacksonville.”


Hansontown Lies Beneath FSCJ’s Downtown Campus

Click below for the full story:

Hansontown lies beneath Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Downtown Campus, figuratively and, in part, literally.

When Florida Junior College consolidated its downtown locations into the new Downtown Campus in the late 1970s, it eliminated the last of Hansontown, a century-old neighborhood built for freed slaves and former U.S. Colored Troops.

Some FSCJ leaders now espouse views on urbanism much like those the college abandoned by building Downtown Campus.

Oak Lynde, Home of Jacksonville’s Own Miss Havisham

Click below for the full story:

Jacksonville’s own Miss Havisham, Addie lived alone with her servants in the vast echoes of Oak Lynde, her 32-bedroom house.

As her inheritance ran out, she took in boarders. Some of her wealthiest boarders would eventually own the house.

Today, only eight bedrooms remain.

Pedrica Mendez’s House

Click below for the full story:

When Padrica was a little girl in the 1940s, the Cuban community in Jacksonville surrounded her and her family with love and a yet larger sense of family.

One night as she left the opera in Rome, a photographer snapped her picture, wrote, “in omaggio alla sua bellezza,” or “in homage of your beauty,” on the back of the photograph, and gave it to her.

The fire that consumed the great two-story house next door jumped sparks at Padrica’s house.

Still what most struck Padrica were the cadences she heard in the Orthodox music of ancient Ethiopia that reminded her dearly, tearfully, of rhymes and end-lines from old “Negro spirituals.”

I AM Sanctuary

Click below for the full story:

The “I AM” Sanctuary on Kings Avenue…

…the Wandering Jew

…and the time Benjamin Franklin was Lady Master Lotus.

Anna Fletcher’s Final Home

Click below for the story:

Photographs of ghosts, of ectoplasm. She died here, in her final home, on Riverside Avenue.

The wife of the Jacksonville mayor and longest-serving U.S. senator from Florida testified before Congress, against Houdini, on behalf of Spiritualism.


Beluthahatchee–land of activism and art

Click below for the full story:

“Florida is my birthplace,” Kennedy writes in The Klan Unmasked, “and I am attached to it. I did not want to give the Klan the satisfaction of forcing me to abandon Beluthahatchee.”

When Kennedy drove up to the bus station in Jacksonville to pick him up, all he saw was a bum with a guitar case. When he asked Guthrie where the rest of his belongings were, the singer-poet said, “I’m wearin’ ’em.”

Who Was Chopstick Charley?

Click below for the full story:

It rains through the ceiling on the front corner booth. Everyone’s favorite is the woo dip harr, shrimp wrapped in bacon with sweet and sour sauce. It’s the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city.

“Charley” was “tiny” and “spoke very little English.” His wife, whose name Susan can’t recall, was a broad-shouldered white woman with dark curly hair who stood a head taller than Charley.


The next installment of What Ever Happened to Beverly June?

Click below for the full story:

They called Emmett Spencer “the dream killer.”

They called Mary Catherine Hampton “the Liz Taylor of the Prison Set” and “Hillbilly Lolita”

Main Street Bridge

Click below for the full story:

The first cars drove 1700 feet of Main Street over the St. Johns River in 1941. By 1945, Jacksonville Police Chief Abel Roberts felt compelled to address the high rate of car accidents on the bridge.

You and I, my so dear daughter, you, born on my mother’s, your grandmother’s, birthday, my mother who died 12 years before you were born, walked across this shaking bridge. The more it shook, the tighter you held my hand. Those many years ago. Holding your tiny hand. No better feeling in the world.