Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Original Shero: Professor Mildred Barnert

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At first, Professor Barnert’s protest was tame. Florida Junior College had fired her, but wouldn’t say why. Faculty had no tenure, no union. After Barnert’s “sleep-in” made the front page of The Jacksonville Journal, male administrators rated her looks and belittled her. Though she loved her students, she didn’t need the job. She protested “on principle” and won rights for those who followed.

 

The Story of Storyland U.S.A.

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More than a decade before Disney came to Florida, Storyland U.S.A. occupied 10 acres along the Arlington Expressway, featuring static exhibits of nursery rhymes along dirt trails. Storyland didn’t last long, but it influenced Marc Suttle’s earliest remembered dreams and Cheryl Joseph can still see the witch from Hansel and Gretel. 

Senator John Mathews and the Bridge to Nowhere

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When the Mathews Bridge was new, it was “the Bridge to Nowhere,” but it heralded the growth of Arlington east of the river and Downtown Jax. The city painted it “garnet” to celebrate its United States Football League team in 1984. It was named for the Florida senator best known for his proposed legislation to limit black voting rights. Opposing those bills got Harry T. Moore and his wife killed on their 25th anniversary.

From Warhol’s Factory to Babs’ Lab

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It’s the story of her open-heart surgery, how Barbara Colaciello opened her heart and built Jax a stage there. She moved from Factory to Lab, from that most famous art scene in America, Andy Warhol’s NY, to creating Babs’ Lab in NE FL. Here’s what happens now at this cultural crossroads.

Leaving the Carl Swisher Mansion

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Lori Boyer has called the old Carl Swisher mansion in San Marco home for 35 years. She mourned one husband here, married another. John Swisher, manufacturer of King Edward Cigars, built this house for his son right beside his own in 1930. Boyer says she’s a period in the house’s history and now it’s time for another family.

the Robert Burns Monument in Springfield Park

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So why is there a monument to the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, in Springfield Park, in the middle of Jax? It was the last of many such monuments placed around the country. And how is Rabbie Burns’s fandom different from that of Sir Walter Scott, whom Mark Twain blamed for the American Civil War?

Merry Christmas at the Merrill House

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Before the house was electrified, candles shone at the ends of Christmas tree branches in the bay window. The youngest Merrill boy wears a kilt in that 1880s family photo. And of course, what every Christmas needs is an alligator foot purse.

The Graveyard by the Front Porch on West 17th Street

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The cemetery lies in the front yard. The side of the house faces the street. The earliest grave is from 1879. The farmland that Elder Eugene Lindsley once fertilized with ash from the city crematorium is gone. So is the Adventist church. Who lies in three of the 10 graves beneath the ancient oak, no one knows.

Visiting What Remains of the Yellow Water Nuclear Weapons Storage Area

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These are the woods once guarded by M-16s and complicated lethal security systems. These forest-covered bunkers once held some of the most deadly weapons ever created. This is what the Yellow Water Nuclear Weapons Storage Area, which once held the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the Southeast, looks like now.

Revisiting the Story of the Neff House and the Betz Sphere

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Neff 19

One of my favorite JaxPsychoGeo stories has to be that of the Nettleton Neff House. Abandoned in the hills away from public roads on Fort George Island, the house was born in tragedy a century ago. Neff committed suicide before he could live in the house. Only one family has ever lived here year-round and they ended up fleeing the conspiracy theorists and UFO chasers.