Tag Archives: jaxpsychogeo

Wesconnett: Pucketts and Gunnings

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No dogs inhabited the doghouse, just 10,000 fleas. The gazebo welcomed the alligator. Rodney’s memories of his mother and his father are radically different. His mother connected callers at the hospital. His father chased his mother through the Wesconnett house with a machete. He recalls the Gunnings, the hardware store, the bulldogs, the 15 year old girl, his baby, his first truck. 

 

New Story: Wesconnett: Turknett/Parnell House

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When the community congealed, three families merged their names to rename the village Wesconnett. Old Orange Park Road, sometimes called simply the Clay Road to Orange Park, became Wesconnett and Blanding Boulevards. The Turknett House became the Parnell House became the center of town. You came to its porches to get your mail, hear the news, receive a phone call or listen to weekend music. The town is gone, buried beneath this inner ring of suburbia, but the house at the center of town still stands.

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.

Jax Zoo (For Harry Crews, Jiggs and Gandai)

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In Harry Crews’s 1992 novel Scar Lover, the Jax Zoo becomes the scene of Southern Gothic anti-epiphany. For years, descriptions of the zoo in the news sounded hardly more pathetic than in Crews. If what happened to Jiggs seems unforgiveable, maybe, hopefully, the baby gorilla named Gandai can offer us all redemption.

New Story: Sloan / McQueen House

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William has lived his whole life here on Spearing Street on the Eastside. Mable lived here almost half a century. Then tragedy struck. The letters on the pantry door spell, “Mable’s kitchen.” The Reverend McQueen took in boarders, but when a choir member couldn’t make rent, the pastor still paid the community’s mortgage.

New Story: Jacksonville Velodrome

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Finally, Wallace McGregor was ready for business. He’d spent more than a million dollars on the facility and bought ads in the newspaper. But they’d come to call it “Wally’s Folly.”

It’s still out here, like a mysterious sign from a buried and lost civilization. It’s not too late. Cast your dreams in concrete.

New Story: Bexley House / Plaza Hotel

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For trial attorney Glenn Allen, it was love at first sight. He called the old house, the old hotel, his “castle.” It’s because of Glenn it still exists at all.

The Plaza Hotel had stayed in the Bexley family for a century. Though Glenn’s bid wasn’t the highest, Dr. Bexley’s granddaughter Sara accepted it because other bidders wanted to tear down her childhood home and lifelong abode and replace it with a parking lot. Sara was dying and she wanted the house brought back to life.

 

Bebe Deluxe, Storybook Pride Prom, and the History of Gay Pride at Willowbranch Park and Library

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It’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and at Willowbranch Library, an epicenter of gay rights history in Jacksonville, hundreds of supporters of gender and sexual minority young people rally in their defense after Jacksonville Public Libraries Director Tim Rogers canceled their sold-out Pride Prom.

Now there are two teen pride events, instead of one. The prom still takes place, at a now undisclosed location, a local church, and hundreds of supporters rally at Willowbranch Library to express their solidarity and love.

Wild Bill of Jax and His Leprosy

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“Will Bill of Jacksonville” had come back home, but outside a small circle of family and friends, he kept his diagnosis a secret. Not only did the disease frighten people, but in this Bible Belt town, it resonated as the plague of the Old Testament.

The Board of Health moved to quarantine his mother’s home on Rural Route 5 in the small western Duval County community of Hart Haven. “In closing,” he wrote, “let me give your readers, each and every one, a personal invitation. I assure you that when you leave, your outlook and perspective on life will be different.”

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.”