Tag Archives: Virginia King

How the Applegate House Became Kiley Secrest’s

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When architectural portraitist Kiley Secrest first moved to Springfield a decade ago, he set about drawing it, one house at a time. He illustrated The Mad Atlas of Virginia King, about that strange woman who wrote an 8,448 page book about Jax. He’s fascinated with Fillmore Applegate who built for his wife Stella the cottage Kiley just bought, where he hopes to spend the rest of his life.

The Ernest & Catherine Ricker House & All Its Many Lives

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The Queen Anne-style Ricker House, with its third-story tower and draped gingerbread, looks like something from a fairy tale. After the Rickers raised their eight children, the house moved from Oak Street to Post Street and back again. Having housed deaths and births, fire and termites, restaurants and school principals, the Ricker House has collected at least 1,001 stories. 

How the Gale House Replaced the House of the Seven Gables

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The house was meant to be a new start, but Emanuel died here just four years later. It was quite the life the couple left behind in Ohio. For half a century, Louise Gale, Emanuel’s widow, made the house home for her daughter, siblings and grandkids, carving the Colonial Revival Jax mansion into the Gale Apartments. Along the way, the old house’s story includes the one-man fraternity “Foo Beta Goo,” stuffed emperor penguins and “Riverside characters.”

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? 

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.

New Story: Thomas Porter House

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Last week’s JaxPsychoGeo story was about a crossroads once the most prestigious in the city. This week’s story centers on the one house that remains. Its future is uncertain. Half a century ago, Bess Porter Keely remembered what it was like, half a century before, to get married in her childhood home.

St. Johns Flower Market’s Long Strange Trip

From Moonies to “flower pimps” to midcentury modern architecture, Click here for the strange and wondrous story of St. Johns Flower Market.

The Jacksonville Free Public Library–Whose Heads These Are I Think I Know

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Shakespeare and Herodotus look out across downtown from the tops of these columns. Whose heads would I stake here?

In a special election, Jacksonville nearly rejected Andrew Carnegie’s magnanimous donation for a new library.

I’d still like to find Elizabeth Long. I wonder if she’d touch me the way she touched the armless Hermes.

Pedrica Mendez’s House

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When Padrica was a little girl in the 1940s, the Cuban community in Jacksonville surrounded her and her family with love and a yet larger sense of family.

One night as she left the opera in Rome, a photographer snapped her picture, wrote, “in omaggio alla sua bellezza,” or “in homage of your beauty,” on the back of the photograph, and gave it to her.

The fire that consumed the great two-story house next door jumped sparks at Padrica’s house.

Still what most struck Padrica were the cadences she heard in the Orthodox music of ancient Ethiopia that reminded her dearly, tearfully, of rhymes and end-lines from old “Negro spirituals.”

New Stories: Barnett Mansion and Springfield Tunnels

Two stories. Scroll down for both.

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“There are so many stories in this house,” he says.

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In the 1970s, the police saw William Barnett, 1824-1903, standing in the shadows and drew their guns.

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Click below for the full story about Springfield Tunnels:

Billy says he and his friends slipped through an aperture into a system of extensive tunnels beneath the Barnett Mansion in Springfield.

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The great strength of conspiracy theories and urban legends is that you can’t prove a negative.