The Stories of Riverside High School, formerly Robert E. Lee

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The story (stories) of Riverside High School, formerly Robert E. Lee, including the girl who’d become my mother, how the yearbook editor-in-chief Ted Pappas embraced his Greek heritage, Vaudeville and Southern Rock, and the fierce campaign to change the school’s name.

Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee), Part 1: The Girl Who Would Become My Mother

Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee), Part 2: Ted Pappas Becoming Ted Pappas

Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee), Part 3: History According to Vaudeville

Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee), Part 4: Becoming Riverside High School

Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee), Part 5 — Coda: The Prehistory of Friday Night Drums

The Arctic Discoverer — the Original Story

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Photo by Wanda Glennon Canaday

It’s been eight years since my sister and I wandered into the Arctic Discoverer. The ship remains in the same place, but nobody can access it now. All it does is deteriorate. Here’s the original story, with photography by Wanda Glennon Canaday.

Photo by Wanda Glennon Canaday

Hove Hall and the Sacrifice the House Demands

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It’s not just that John Hove, Florida businessman and former Swedish judge, has spent a decade renovating this 1920s riverfront mansion that his renaming the house makes a necessary romantic sense. He never knew what strange Christmas pasts the house harbored and couldn’t have predicted the scale of personal tragedy. Still, this renovation will mark the achievement of a lifetime!

The Racist Career of Warren H. Folks

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Warren H. Folks, operating his barbershop at two polarities Downtown, was Jacksonville’s representative of its furthest right politics for decades. He knew best how to terrorize his enemies, but also how to “own” them in his own culture wars. His legacy foreshadows today’s Florida politics.

Revitalizing Taylor Hardwick’s Masterpiece

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Taylor Hardwick never saw the completed restoration of this greatest work, Jacksonville’s Old Main Library, but he walked through the abandoned building with Sherry Magill, president of The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, just before the work began. The Jessie is one of the greatest Mid-Century Modern designs in Florida and its salvation one of our greatest preservation stories.

The Hidden House, by Ted Pappas, a Mediterranean Revival Revival

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This house hidden behind a house on the river, is both classical and contemporary. Ted Pappas designed it when he was restoring the Mediterranean Revival mansion called Epping Forest. Indeed, you could call this house Mediterranean Revival Revival. Its current occupant must go unnamed. He does not speak into his shoe, though he did once have a STU-III.

Inside the Enigmatic Arlington Federal Savings and Loan

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Here’s a look inside the abandoned Arlington Federal. Its architect remained elusive. The lobby stands open to the elements. A butterfly sub-ceiling hangs over the tellers’ desks. Steel vaults stand open. In its earliest years, even its administrators robbed it. Only now does it emerge that Miami’s Edwin T. Reeder was the architect. Now the bulldozers are ready.

When the City Dumped Sewage Sludge on the Regency Dunes

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National headlines announced fecal matter raining across the city. Sewage lines collapsed without being replaced. Treatment facilities were overwhelmed. Tankers dumped sewage sludge on the sand dunes behind Regency Square Mall where kids had jumped their dune buggies and dads shot World War II rifles. The mayor jumped into the sludge wars.

The Bizarre Misogynistic Acquittal of Gary Lynn Webster

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Nobody questioned the fact that Gary Lynn Webster, a former gospel choir director and high school music teacher, had murdered and dismembered his teenage bride on Jacksonville’s Westside. The jury still found him innocent. One female juror regretted the verdict.

The Rise and Fall of Regency Square Mall

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“All roads lead to Regency Square,” they said, “the largest shopping center in the Southeast,” a “city within a city.” The shopping mall seemed to replace the heart of the city itself. All spectacles converged there — dancing bears, the Easter Bunny, art shows, wax figures of English monarchs. Then came the fall and the era of the “dead mall.”