Tag Archives: jaxpsychogeo

New Story: Resurrecting Hill Top, Black History on Forman Circle

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Cooking for Martin Luther King, Jr., Maude Burroughs Jackson says, was one of the greatest honors of her life. Two decades prior, her father built this house by hand. Maude entered first grade in 1947 in the one room schoolhouse she ended up saving from destruction in 1995. Because of repeated vandalism, she no longer ventures to the community cemetery by herself. It’s because of her love for those who loved her those early years that we know now of this community at all.

The Independent Life Building / Wells Fargo Center

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From lightning strikes to the locomotive buried in its foundation, from loyalty to President Nixon to overtures to the National Football League, from the architectural sketches of Wah Yo Eng to the immigrant family of Bulgarians, Haitians and Jamaicans, the Independent Life Building (now the Wells Fargo Center) has reflected Jacksonville back to itself since 1974.

McCormick Apartments and Mythos at Jax Beach

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“There are enough concrete blocks in the McCormick Apartments to build a solid wall eight feet high from Jacksonville Beach to Downtown Jacksonville.” So bragged J.T. McCormick at the 1948 Open House, five years before he was elected mayor of Jacksonville Beach. The mythos contains stories of horsewhippings and murders and the family who built up the beach.

The Iron Lung at Shep’s

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The iron lung stands beside the old arcade video game. Did someone die in this machine? Artist Jeff Whipple took the Salk vaccine on the sugar cube. His English teacher conducted class from an iron lung. Shep’s Discount and Salvage sells rotten baby formula, this iron lung, and Trump Rambo flags, but what’s with the plastic pigs dressed as cowboys? 

The Double Hauntings of Gateway Mall on Yellow Fever Burials at Sand Hills Hospital

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“We found so many bones. I had two bags full of them,” John says. Then Lorene wore her hula outfit for Montgomery Ward’s “Hawaiian Days” sale and Pat and Donna both played Easter Bunny. Where Smallpox and Yellow Fever victims died at Sand Hills Hospital, Gateway Shopping Center and Mall suffered cycles of suburban flight and decline. “We found a skull out there,” Linda says, “and took it to school.” 

The 500th Story

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

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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.

This Week’s Story: The Final Flooding of This Particular History–Marjenhoff Park

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In five years, this neighborhood will be flooded and returned to swamp. When Hurricane Irma turned Marjenhoff Park and its surrounding houses into a swirl of swill, long after the 25 year history of South Jacksonville as a city, long after those little boys chased an alligator through city pipes, almost a century after South Jax City Councilman and son blurred ages, still: once “haunt” and “home” meant the same thing. 

Halloween-week story: Spence Auto Sales and Ottis Toole Death Car

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It was November 1983, six months since Spence had last seen Ottis Toole, the great fake serial killer. Detectives thought they could pin the Ottis Toole death car and a rusty machete to Spence Auto Sales. Two months later, Spencer Bennett was dead.