Tag Archives: jaxpsychogeo

The Saga of the Heart of Jacksonville Motel

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It’s the saga of the Heart of Jacksonville Motel: pop bands and robberies, boxing promoters and unsolved murders. And those t-shirts the cops printed there after one of their own was a suspect. Fire after fire after fire. The motel’s gone, but people still come and stay.

Remembering the Be-Ins at Willowbranch Park

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For the briefest of moments, it was the most magical time, wild yet somehow innocent. The be-ins at Willowbranch Park in the late ’60s featured a broil of young musicians, out of which rose the Allman Brothers Band. The be-ins meant long hair, beads and tie-dye, hippies walking barefoot through Riverside, cheap rent in old mansions, but more than anything, they meant music.

The Last Remaining Doro Artwork in Jax

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Months ago, the historic Doro Fixture Co. Building in Downtown Jax was demolished. It’s a shame. George Doro’s sole lasting architectural masterpiece, however, might just be the icon screen he designed and built for St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church. His signature was an unblinking eye. His iconostasis just moved to its third location and now has a chapel all its own. Make your pilgrimage to Doro’s great artwork. 

New Story: Hogan’s Creek Tower

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Who were they, these women in these earliest photographs? Who called this tower their “poor man’s penthouse”? Opened in 1976, Hogan’s Creek Tower, designed by architect Ted Pappas, is one of Jacksonville’s best examples of Brutalism. Like any community, it has its stories. Like the resident who wandered away and spent his 100th Christmas meandering for 17 hours across the city.

New Story: Schools Named for Confederates and the Demise of Manhattan Beach

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Joseph Finegan Elementary School, named for a Confederate general, stands where segregated black Manhattan Beach once was. White developers said they wanted “Negroes removed from the oceanfront” and the one business whose family didn’t sell was destroyed in a “mysterious fire.” So, “what’s in a name?” Juliet asked. 

The Mystery House at Atlantic/Neptune Beach

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Supposedly the hurricane tossed the house back up on the beach that way and rather than tearing it down, some smalltime Barnum charged admission. At the beginnings of a town called Neptune, the “Mysterious House” stood out beyond the dunes. Inside, gravity went askew. You felt like you were walking up the wall.

The Strange Twisting Histories of Marabanong

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The history of the vast Victorian house called Marabanong includes women astronomers and suffragists, poets and painters, fictional pirates and peacocks, widow’s walks and underground passages. The 144 year old house has five levels, a corner tower, 121 windows and more stories than anyone can count.

New Story: Durkeeville: Kennelly Building; Ballot Cures, ‘Black Votes Matter,’ ‘Red Ball Building’ Goes Blue

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The story of the Black Votes Matter mural includes the stories of curing mail-in ballots with signature problems, of the “Mamas of the Movement” and the men and women memorialized in “In-Justice ‘N Jacksonville,” of environmental justice, of painting blue the former business HQ of a conservative Jax politician who opposed taxes and bussing. It’s about bearing witness.

New Story: Part Two–River House Apartments/Riverside House/Rochester House

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The only remaining hotel from when Jax was “Winter City in Summer Land,” it survives because it shipped on a barge up the river. The nephew of Walter Percy, the great Southern novelist, a cardiologist, has called the old hotel home for 40 years. Few neighbors have spoken with him, but they hear him play the piano. If this house played some small part in Mary Todd Lincoln’s losing her mind, Rachel recalls it as the house of love, art, warmth and creativity. 

The Oldest House at Atlantic Beach: The Christopher / Bull / Hionides House

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It’s the oldest house at Atlantic Beach, its original owner’s “party house,” home to the family of the town’s first mayor for seven decades, to the Hionides family for three. Here the fate of black Manhattan Beach played out and the mysterious Jax blues musician Sugar Underwood played at dances. Inside, bright sunlight coruscates across golden heartwood pine. Outside, grandchildren run up from the ocean.