Tag Archives: St. James Hotel

Paul Laurence Dunbar at James Weldon Johnson’s Home in Jacksonville

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Harlem Renaissance figure — poet, novelist, journalist, ambassador and activist — James Weldon Johnson lived right here when he wrote the words to the Black National Anthem. His late-night debates with house-guest Paul Laurence Dunbar, just after Dunbar marched in President McKinley’s inaugural parade, helped make Johnson the writer he’d become.

Big Jim, Mouthpiece of the City’s Wild Soul

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Rexall Drugs sold the Americanitis Elixir to salve the nerves of anxious city dwellers suffering from noises like Big Jim. The State Board of Health condemned the old steam whistle, said it brought strong, rugged men to the breaking point. 

John Einig, the same inventor who built Jacksonville’s first automobile, had designed Big Jim. The whistle sounded the end of world wars, the dawn of electric lighting, the Great Fire of 1901, and the death of its inventor. The 140 year old whistle still sounds four times a day over Springfield and Downtown.