Tag Archives: Tim Gilmore

Springfield’s Florence Court Apartments

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Cyara likes to imagine herself “Queen Florence.” More than a century before, the builder of the Florence Court named these apartments for his wife. On the sidewalk, you’d buy linen spats and a ham and beef tongue sandwich. So why was the architect’s name an open secret for 50 years? Mushrooms grow downward from ceilings. This building’s declined almost all its life. Who’s ready to step forward and save it? 

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: Tim Armstrong at Armstrong Farm Has a Message: “Eat Your Yard, Jax!”

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Tim Armstrong’s both Old Florida and new. He’s in the business of springing life from compost and earth, constant renewal, though his family’s been in Florida “since the last Indian war.” Three generations ran a steamboat on the Apalachicola River. He walked to his elementary school and high school in Jacksonville’s Woodstock Park neighborhood, but he’s no provincial. His farm, which works with special needs kids across the city, grows and sells native plants and plants from every continent but Antarctica. 

Harry Crews’s Childhood Nightmare Northside

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The novelist Harry Crews chronicled how Jacksonville imported desperation from half the state of Georgia. It offered hope, but required human sacrifice. First coming to Jax when his stepfather-uncle aimed a rifle at his mother’s head, Harry lived in half a dozen houses across the Northside, all of which his family called “the Springfield Section.” When Harper Lee read Crews’s second novel, she said William Faulkner had come back to life.

The Independent Life Building / Wells Fargo Center

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From lightning strikes to the locomotive buried in its foundation, from loyalty to President Nixon to overtures to the National Football League, from the architectural sketches of Wah Yo Eng to the immigrant family of Bulgarians, Haitians and Jamaicans, the Independent Life Building (now the Wells Fargo Center) has reflected Jacksonville back to itself since 1974.

McCormick Apartments and Mythos at Jax Beach

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“There are enough concrete blocks in the McCormick Apartments to build a solid wall eight feet high from Jacksonville Beach to Downtown Jacksonville.” So bragged J.T. McCormick at the 1948 Open House, five years before he was elected mayor of Jacksonville Beach. The mythos contains stories of horsewhippings and murders and the family who built up the beach.

Walking the Vanished Old Panama Road

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The Old Panama Road disappeared beneath the Northside of the city 120 years ago. This story tracks it. It heads north from the murder of Marie Gato, past Club Steppin’ Out, through the diary of a black Civil War soldier reading Lord Byron, a Spanish American War camp teeming with Typhoid Fever and the burning of a sawmill the size of a small town. 

The Iron Lung at Shep’s

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The iron lung stands beside the old arcade video game. Did someone die in this machine? Artist Jeff Whipple took the Salk vaccine on the sugar cube. His English teacher conducted class from an iron lung. Shep’s Discount and Salvage sells rotten baby formula, this iron lung, and Trump Rambo flags, but what’s with the plastic pigs dressed as cowboys? 

Prissy’s Forgotten Arborteum

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I’d ask Prissy Bowers, were she still here. Jessie Lynn-Kerr wrote her obituary. On January 12, 2002, The Florida Times-Union headlined it, “Cheerful Clown Bowers Dies at 76.” She’d fought cancer for 16 years, one year fewer than she’d worked on her book. Dozens of clowns attended her funeral at Avondale United Methodist Church in full costume. The sign that once identified Wildling Arboretum has vanished, but these trees rise still. And a few of their broken markers.