Tag Archives: San Marco

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. 

New Story: Epping Forest

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Epping Forest is the grandest historic estate in Jacksonville. Well known, the summits of world leaders here. Well known, its original owner’s personal manipulation of banking in the Great Depression. Why, however, did Alfred Dent believe his grandmother, Jessie Ball duPont, and her brother, Edward Ball, had murdered his grandfather, Alfred duPont? Also, what’s up with the pelicans and squirrels and vampire faces?

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.

New Story: Polio in Florida, Ann Adams, the Artist Who Painted with her Teeth

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The caption said, “This card was drawn by mouth by Ann Adams, a polio patient in Jacksonville, Florida.” Ann was paralyzed from the neck down. She slept in an iron lung. For most of her life, she never drew a breath on her own. “Through perseverance, she trained herself to draw by holding a pencil between her teeth. Each original drawing takes up to two months to complete.”

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. 

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.