Tag Archives: Henry John Klutho

New Story: First Baptist Church

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First Baptist Church has perhaps received more love and more hate than any other entity in Jacksonville. It dates to a ca.-Civil War split with black church members who retained the original name, Bethel Baptist. In 1923, Pastor W.A. Hobson welcomed 200 Klansmen in full regalia into his farewell sermon. In the 1980s, Pastors Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines ignited a showdown with more “liberal” members of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2019, what once seemed unthinkable occurs: the church plans to sell 90 percent of its downtown campus.

New Story: Thomas Porter House

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Last week’s JaxPsychoGeo story was about a crossroads once the most prestigious in the city. This week’s story centers on the one house that remains. Its future is uncertain. Half a century ago, Bess Porter Keely remembered what it was like, half a century before, to get married in her childhood home.

The Crossroads: One House Still Stands

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It was the most prestigious crossroads in the city. Two senators lived here. Anna Fletcher said her house was haunted, that a grandfather clock had thrown itself upon a young woman. She wrote about it in her 1929 book Death Unveiled. Now only the Porter House remains. Click below for the full story.

The Long Strange History of the Moulton and Kyle Funeral Home

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The history of the Moulton and Kyle Funeral Home graphs itself across the center of the city. It includes an undertaker who sold whiskey flasks and rifles, insurance agents who stole a corpse, and a couple who married in an ambulance; an associated funeral home became a movie theater. The new owners left behind a century of personal records and cremated remains. 

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.”

Black Masonic Temple

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What these walls have seen! Architects Mark and Sheftall began their own firm in 1912 and with a commission for the grandest building in black Jacksonville. The Black Masonic Temple formed the brick foundation of the black community.

Princess Laura Adorkor Kofi preached her “back to Africa” message here in the 1920s. Future Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander Shaw had his offices here in the 1960s. And the tunnels beneath Broad Street would offer protection if Florida’s massacres of black communities at Ocoee, Perry, and Rosewood should spread to 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.

The Jacksonville Free Public Library–Whose Heads These Are I Think I Know

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Shakespeare and Herodotus look out across downtown from the tops of these columns. Whose heads would I stake here?

In a special election, Jacksonville nearly rejected Andrew Carnegie’s magnanimous donation for a new library.

I’d still like to find Elizabeth Long. I wonder if she’d touch me the way she touched the armless Hermes.

Hansontown Lies Beneath FSCJ’s Downtown Campus

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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.

The Clara White Mission Remains the Humanitarian Heart of Jax

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If the goodness, kindness, and mercy enacted in a particular building, on a certain quadrant of earth, can accrue across the years, then the Clara White Mission should be a pilgrimage site and 613 Ashley Street in LaVilla is sacred ground.

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At the turn of 1974, Eartha was the tiny, bird-like, Old-Testament-but-New-Testament saint at the center of town. She died in January. I was born in June. I so wish I could have met her.

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When I saw Eartha White look out at me from the open doors of Roosevelt Watson III’s major artwork, I saw her as I’d never seen her but also as she’d visited me, angelically and ghostly, when I’d most needed to find her before.

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