Tag Archives: jax psycho geo

New Story: Sin City (the Urban Legends / the True Story)

Click below for this week’s story, the first of three in a series about that infamous Jacksonville neighborhood long known as “Sin City,” or navigate the city through the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Actor Darrell Zwerling hadn’t yet starred in Polanski’s Chinatown, when he stayed at Fox Meadows, saying, “This is the life. Swimming & Sunning all day and acting at night.” The apartments advertised, “Luxury Living at Reasonable Rates,” but “No Children” soon became “Adults Only.” By the time Fox Meadows became the Rivermont in the 1970s, drugs and prostitution branded the apartments “Sin City,” a moniker that soon spread to the surrounding neighborhood. The urban legends are legion; here’s the true story.

New Story: The Lions of Drew and McConihe

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The lions looked out on Bay Street, facing north, four stories high, for 70 years. Irony brought them down: the life insurance company cut short their reign. Now they stand beneath the glass giant that for years so awkwardly dwarfed the city and await our pilgrimage.

This Week’s Story: Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant

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Before that night the Ku Klux Klan wore their hoods in for dinner, before somebody assaulted Randall Fleiss and stole his ivory, before Ron Pate initiated his “If you want to fight, you have to fight me” policy, Darryl Swearingen asked his mother if he could take a job washing dishes. The story of the Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant dates back almost a century.

New Story: Dix Ellis Trail

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The ghetto’s relocated to the suburbs. The cheap hotel by the interstate interchange is the port city of 500 years ago. Drugs and sex slaves do brisk business. Jacksonville murders black transwomen. I B-my-OB at suburban hotel truck stops and transcribe the “marketplace of ideas.” Get your kicks on Dix Ellis Trail!

Conflicting Tales of the Burdette/Clarke House

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This week’s story, as Hurricane Dorian bears down on Florida, proves suitable for stormy weather. The 1887 riverfront house in Floral Bluff isn’t as well known as it should be. It is, however, for sale. Its story involves moonlight shrimping, an “abandoned sanitarium,” and a frustrated artist. 

This Week’s Story: Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

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Helen’s mother could take a sip and tell which city had bottled the Coke. When the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant opened in New Springfield, Charles Guth–“ruthless rascal,” murderer, future president of Pepsi–opened a bottling plant across the street. In later years, William played hide-and-seek amidst abandoned equipment while his parents cleaned at night. 

New Story: Lawton Pratt Funeral Home

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Even today, architectural historians often fail to give Joseph Blodgett his due. Architecture, like everything else in the South, was segregated.

Anyone ready to make a joke about conflicts of interest in funeral homes running ambulance services should also know that Lawton Pratt operated a life insurance office in the building while workers built caskets upstairs in the back.

Mediterranean Southern Gothic

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It’s a Mediterranean yet Southern Gothic masterpiece set beside Little Pottsburg Creek. Drivers on Atlantic Boulevard have wondered at the house for decades. The legends proliferate.

It was Harry Moyer who made this 1920s architectural gem a true work of art. He drenched the original design in his masterful tilework. The house has survived decline before, but it needs you now more than ever.

Suddath / Van Valkenburgh House

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The citrus grove featured the first Satsumas in North America. Robert Bruce Van Valkenburgh had brought them from Japan. He’d raised 17 volunteer regiments for the Union in the Civil War, included the one he commanded at Antietam. The Suddaths called this rambling house home for 70 years and dug old bottles from the bluff. Jessica climbed the roof as a child. 

St. Johns Flower Market’s Long Strange Trip

From Moonies to “flower pimps” to midcentury modern architecture, Click here for the strange and wondrous story of St. Johns Flower Market.