Tag Archives: San Marco

Craig Creek: From River Oaks to Oriental Gardens to Jax Ghats

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Craig Creek floods herons and frogs and oak roots. William Craig prepared to lead his army for the Republic of East Florida against the Spanish Empire. “Oriental Gardens” overflowed from George W. Clark’s Riverside residence across the St. Johns River to just south of San Marco.

The cypress trees along Craig Creek rise yet, love letters still molder in a particular attic, and the gardens still descend stone steps, Jax ghats, into the ancient river.

The Balis House / the Herbert Swisher House

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Herbert Swisher was a “trust fund baby.” His grandfather built him a house. Sheffield and Abla Balis left the Franco-Syrian War in the Middle East and made Herbert’s house their home. When Sheffield died, Abla built him a tower.

San Marco’s Swisher House (John H.) and Villa Alexandria

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All big houses harbor the loneliness of unpeopled space. When Heather was a little girl, she didn’t understand the elevator went up and down. She thought it somehow “swapped the rooms around.”

Christina says, “I don’t think Mrs. Mitchell liked that they tore her house down.”

Carl Swisher always carried jokes in his pocket. Workers rolled 600 to 700 cigars a day.