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November Program: Jacksonville Terminal Centennial Tribute

Reception and Exhibits 6:00pm

Presentation 7:00pm

Suggested Donation $10

The Jacksonville Terminal is turning 100! Please join us as rail industry veteran and former CSX president, Clarence Gooden, pays tribute to this icon of Jacksonville’s social, cultural and economic heritage. Once the largest rail terminal in the South, the Jacksonville Terminal transported millions of passengers over 55 years, until the last passenger train departed in 1974. Please join us as we celebrate the memories and history of this grand transportation center!

In 1893, Henry Flagler organized the Jacksonville Terminal Company, and built a Union Depot to accommodate the five major railroads serving Jacksonville. It was an impressive Spanish mission style structure, which opened on February 4, 1895. However, by 1912, it was seeing as many as 92 trains a day, and planning began once again to build an even larger station on the same site.

In 1915 a nationwide search began for the best possible design, and New York City Architect Kenneth Mackensie Murcheson was selected as the winner. Murcheson was inspired by New York City’s Pennsylvania Station, which in turn had been inspired by the Roman baths of Caracalla, Titus and Diocletion. The Jacksonville Terminal was designed with that same splendor in mind.

Terminal Station ca. 1930s

Being near McCoys Creek presented some challenges. The creek had to be re-channelled and approximately 2,000 pilings were driven into the marshy earth. When it was complete, Murcheson’s 180-foot facade of 14 Doric columns, each rising 42 feet high, was truly a sight to be seen, and the waiting rooms, concourses, shops and rail yards were just as impressive.

Bay Street Baggage Transfer 1968

Opening its doors just after midnight on November 17th, 1919, the terminal stood as a shining example of the exquisite architecture Jacksonville had to offer. It was also a necessary response to a rapidly growing city. On its inaugural day, the terminal handled more than 110 trains and 20,000 passengers. During World War II, as many as 100,000 servicemen and civilians passed through the station daily. Florida enjoyed a reputation of being the winter playground for presidents, celebrities and royalty, and the terminal was at the center of all the action. During its 55 years of service, millions of travelers have walked through its enormous halls.

1978 Aerial – Four years after rail service ceased

On January 3rd, 1974, the last train chuffed out of the station and the terminal closed forever. For several years, the building languished and fell into disrepair. In 1982, a partnership of civic and business leaders joined forces with former CSX chairman Prime F Osborn III to rescue the terminal from demolition. It stands today as the Prime Osborn Convention Center, a constant reminder of the elegance and grandeur of a bygone era.

Location: Prime Osborn Convention Center, A. Philip Randolph Room

Reception: 6:00pm Presentation: 7:00pm

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