What is the Jacksonville History Center?

Our Mission

“To strengthen citizenship by engaging and educating Jacksonville’s people about their history, through preserving and sharing the evidence of the city’s past, and by advocating the value of historic preservation.”

Founded in 1929, Jacksonville Historical Society (dba Jacksonville History Center) is the oldest such organization in the City of Jacksonville, and the only one that serves the entire city. We help the people of Jacksonville preserve and share this big, complicated city’s many fascinating stories.

The Jacksonville History Center comprises two campuses with two properties each. The Palmetto Street campus includes the 1878 Old St. Luke’s Hospital building (the first purpose-built hospital in Florida) and the 1920 Florida Casket Company three-story building, which is destined to house the Haskell Archives of Jacksonville and research library, a museum and exhibit space, and an event space. The A. Philip Randolph Blvd. campus includes two structures owned and maintained by the City of Jacksonville: the 1879 James E. Merrill House Museum and the 1888 Old St. Andrew’s Church, which was deconsecrated in the 1950s and currently serves as an event venue.

Why We Do What We Do

Awareness of the past fosters a sense of place and identity in the present. Jacksonville’s stories allow us to understand who has been here before, what they did, and what happened as a result. Learning and sharing Jacksonville’s stories with others is how we take ownership of this place and become its citizens. That is the value of history, and that is why, in its 95th year, the Jacksonville History Center is more relevant than ever.

How We Do It

We employ a professional staff to:

  • Produce educational programming
  • Support and strengthen historic preservation
  • Maintain four historic buildings in downtown Jacksonville
  • Operate a large and growing archives
  • Serve Jacksonville’s people as the principal citywide history resource

What We Provide

Education

  • Providing public programs and lectures
  • Partnering with arts and history organizations, libraries, and schools to collect and share stories
  • Promoting heritage tourism – sharing Jacksonville’s story with the world

Historic Preservation

  • Affirming that historic places are the source of authentic identity
  • Promoting adaptive reuse to strengthen economic development
  • Purposely advocating for preservation throughout Jacksonville

Archives

  • Preserving photos and documents for the present and future
  • Providing unique access to Jacksonville’s history for the general public
  • Supporting research for future understanding

More specifically,

  • We support area restoration projects and have raised more than $2 million since 2000 for the restoration of Jacksonville landmarks.
  • We offer a monthly speaker program, both scholarly and entertaining, on matters relating to Jacksonville and North Florida history.
  • We showcase turn-of-the-century Jacksonville in the James E. Merrill House Museum, interpreted in the American Victorian period, with tours by appointment and during our annual Gingerbread Extravaganza.
  • We maintain an archival repository open to the public, with tens of thousands of documents, photographs, rare books and architectural artifacts relating to Jacksonville-area history.
  • We provide speakers to area organizations, schools and churches on a variety of Jacksonville history topics.
  • We lead walking tours through the “heart of Jacksonville” among other North Florida locations.
  • We place historic site markers in appropriate locations throughout the city.
THE JACKSONVILLE HISTORY CENTER