Tag Archives: LaVilla

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.

New Story: Chaseville “Colored Settlement” / Fort Caroline Club Estates

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Little remains of the old “Chaseville Colored Settlement,” where the 1920 census placed America’s first black presidential candidate. Fortunately for his bones, George Edwin Taylor was buried elsewhere, because developers dug up the skeletons of the old black cemetery. Where former slaves of the region’s most prominent plantation families once came to live their lives free, real estate developers built “midcentury modern” Arlington. Poultry farms gave way to Geodesica. Click below for the full story.

Story #509: Riverdale Inn / Brazile House / Kelly House

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Walter Brazile founded B & B Exterminating Co. in his rambling old boarding house. He nurtured the business and nurtured people, including Rufus King, Jr., brother of Virginia, author of that 8,448-page book about Jax. William Kelly, turpentine magnate, built the house 115 years ago. Albert O’Neall, though a Quaker, took a job here building bombing ranges. Now the former HQ of B & B has been restored as a bed-and-breakfast. One of my favorite writers stayed here just last week.

The Adams Building: from the Vice Wars to “Rehumanizing the Broken Man”

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.

Terminal Hotel

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While I hate to add this endnote to a tragic story from a week ago, after just posting the celebratory story of Ethiopian Timkat in Jax, I must share how the stories of Jax writers Hamilton Jay and Sam Russ led to one more tragedy connected by an old Jax hotel. So here’s what happened at the Terminal Hotel in LaVilla in 1912 and the half century that followed. Thank you, Mitch Hemann of the Jacksonville Historical Society, for pushing this one forward.

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. 

Kimberly Daniels’ Lunatic Politics Owes Much to her Father’s Legacy

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This past week, Folio Weekly‘s A.G. Gancarski wrote of wealthy Jaxsons like Peter Rummell and Gary Chartrand helping bankroll Kimberly Daniels’s campaign for state representative. Daniels says she’s sick of hearing about the Holocaust, that she’s thankful for slavery, that gay people are a demon-possessed “army of darkness,” and that sometimes after a City Council meeting, “I go home and sometimes I talk to people with demon voices coming out of them.” She’s written prayers people can recite to “renounce masturbation.”

Daniels’s father, Andrew Preston Perkins, ran for City Council too. He was a member of the Boomerang Gang, which provided armed escorts for black City Council members. As a child, Kimberly Daniels spent time in her father’s bar in LaVilla, Perk and Loretta’s Soul Lounge, which featured drag shows, decades before Daniels performed exorcisms to cast out homosexual demons, and years before undercover cops bought crack cocaine and heroin at Perk’s.

When Jax Declared Its Center a “Slum Heart,” ‘Evil,” and Demanded Exorcism

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The deep baritone drips with condescension, festers with open sarcasm.

“This very plumbing, if you can dignify it with the name of plumbing, can bring disease and death into your home through the medium of your servants.”

“Come to think of it,” Slum Heart recalls, opportunistically, “that servant girl who comes to your house each morning […] Do you know where she goes at night?”

When Governor Claude Kirk Hopped the Fence and Took the Mic from “Black Power Agitator,” H. Rap Brown

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This ballpark has been the heart of Durkeeville for more than a century. It was Jacksonville’s municipal baseball stadium until 1954. The Negro Leagues played here. Hank Aaron “integrated” the Jacksonville Braves and won MVP, 1953.

White people had lots of guns and white cops all had guns, so black people! should get guns too. So said H. Rap Brown, who bridged the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to the Black Panthers.

Claude Kirk, 36th governor of Florida, Jax insurance salesman, hopped the fence at Durkee Field, tromped toward the pitcher’s mound, and snatched the mic from H. Rap Brown.