Tag Archives: Florida Life Building

The Barnett National Bank Building, Its Deep Roots and Tendrils through Time

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It was “the Year of the Skyscraper.” The 10 story building next door began to tilt. Alfred duPont raised Florida from the Great Depression, merely from infusions of his personal wealth. When Barnett began the Bank of Jacksonville in 1877, he couldn’t have known it would grow into one of the largest banks in the South. After Herbert Hoover, Alfred’s wife, Jessie Ball duPont, changed direction. Her hair was graying, but her eyes still sparkled.

Barnett’s personification of its first Automatic Teller Machine frightened Southern working class families. Charles Rice said he’d never sell “Bion Barnett’s bank.” Then he checked into rehab. Then he sold. Then he drowned in his own swimming pool. Now UNF is making the Barnett “the front door to the startup community in Jacksonville.”

From the JaxPsychoGeo Archives: Dine with the Man in Green

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He lived in the tiny “cottage” on top of the Florida Life Building of the “Laura Street Trio.” For 35 years, he operated Berney’s Restaurant where Bark Downtown is now. As reported in Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Time magazine, Bernard Berney wore all green from head to toe. So did his Boston Terrier Peggy. In the restaurant, the chairs, booths, floor tiles, columns, menus and the bar itself were green. People called him a leprechaun. But he wasn’t Irish. He was Russian. In the 1990s, 30 years after closing, the bar, tables, chairs, and mirror were covered in dust like Miss Havisham’s Wedding.