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At the Jacksonville Historical Society, we’re making history every day. Our monthly Speakers Series offers in-depth information on surprising and diverse aspects of our city’s past, and our fun Pop Up events are designed to bring attention to the forgotten history buried in our own back yard. Throughout the year, we also lead countless school groups on “insider tours” of our city’s most significant landmarks and events. Why don’t you join us?

Apr
2
Wed
2014
An Underwater National Treasure: The 150th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Maple Leaf
Apr 2 @ 5:30 am – 7:30 am
An Underwater National Treasure: The 150th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Maple Leaf @ Old St. Andrews | Jacksonville | Florida | United States

At 4 a.m. on April 1, 1864, the Union transport Maple Leaf, returning to Jacksonville from Palatka with the equipment of three regiments, struck a torpedo in the St. Johns River and sank in seven minutes. Two nights earlier, Confederates had placed 12 torpedos in the river channel near Mandarin Point. While extraordinary relics from the ship were salvaged by a small, tenacious group of locals and placed in Florida museums, 150 years later, the Civil War transport still holds 90 percent of its cargo and rests in 20 feet of water and seven feet of mud. Join us for the century-and-a-half saga of the Maple Leaf, from its sinking to its salvage.

Nov
17
Mon
2014
In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People
Nov 17 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People @ Old St. Andrews  | Jacksonville | Florida | United States

Born in Jacksonville in 1876, Eartha Mary Magdalene White is among the city’s most notable citizens. Highly talented, entrepreneurial and industrious, she delivered crucial social services to North Florida’s black community. Her projects, to name a few, included an old folk’s home, an orphanage, a home for unwed mothers, a WWII USO, and the Clara White Mission, named for her adoptive mother. Former Jacksonville Mayor Hans Tanzler said in a 1982 Florida Times Union article, “At least once a month she’d come to my office at City Hall. She was irrepressible . . . she could not be denied.”

From her daring rescue of Afro-American insurance records during the Great Fire of 1901 to her 1970 White House meeting with President Nixon, Eartha’s 97 years placed her in the forefront of 20th century history at a critical juncture in race relations. The November program with Dr. Timothy Gilmore of Florida State College offers an account of one of the city’s most formidable residents. Dr. Gilmore is the author of numerous books, including the recently published, In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People.

Sep
21
Mon
2015
It Came To Pass on the Banks of this River
Sep 21 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Meta Slider - HTML Overlay - September2015Join the Jacksonville Historical Society and Players by the Sea for a dramatic reading performance of “It Came to Pass on the Banks of this River” by Matt Colaciello with Barbara Colaciello. This is an an adaptation of “NEXT DAY IN THE MORNING” by Kermit Hunter written for Jacksonville’s Ribault Quadricentennial Commission in 1962. That half-century old production was written for Jacksonville’s Ribault Quadricentennial Commission commemorating the Frenchman John Ribault’s arrival at the St. Johns River, a river Ribault called the River May. For the 400th anniversary in 1962, a massive assembly with trumpets and troops filled the city’s “new three million dollar air-conditioned Jacksonville coliseum”. The show ran for 15 days with two performances on Sundays with ticket prices ranging between $1 and $3.50.

The society’s upcoming evening features this early St. Johns River story told through the eyes of some of the world’s most powerful 16th century European women. The production also presents the Florida natives’ perspective and the viewpoint of explorers, Ribault, Laudonnière and Menendez.

The production includes trained actors in a dramatic reading of this uniquely North Florida story. It’s the ultimate story in this Year of the River. The La Caroline Colony on the St. Johns is distinguished as the first colony of European men and women seeking religious freedom on land that became U.S. soil. It is also is the event that set in motion the founding of St. Augustine and more than two centuries of Spanish occupation in Florida.

The Historical Society will host two performances. The first is to begin with a 5:30 pm reception, followed by the production at 6pm. The second performance will begin with a 7:30pm reception and 8pm performance. Please be sure to RSVP to one of the performances by signing up online using the link above or phoning the Historical Society, 904.665.0064.

Cast of Characters:

The Historian: Matthew Colaciello

The French Court
Queen Catherine de Medici:  Barbara Colaciello
King Charles IX:  Joshua Taylor
Admiral de Coligny: Robert Arleigh White
Captain Jean Ribault: David Gile
Captain René de Laudonnière: Jason Collins
Jacques Le Moyne: Joshua Taylor

The Spanish Court
Queen Elizabeth Valois: Rikki Southworth
King Felipe II: Jim Alabiso
Admiral Pedro Menendez:  Robert Arleigh White

The English Court
Queen Elizabeth of England: Hope McMath
Admiral Sir John Hawkins: Jim Alabiso

 The Saturiwa
Chief Saturiwa:  DeWitt Cooper

 

FAQs

What does my ticket get me?

Your ticket is your admission to see the performance at the Jacksonville Historical Society. Harkening back the original admission of Next Day in the Morning in 1962, we welcome your donations of $1 – $3.50 the night of the performance. The Jacksonville Historical Society is a non-profit organization and all donations will support the collection and preservation of Jacksonville history.

What are my parking options getting to the event?

Free parking is available in the lot behind the Merrill House, or park along Duval Street, east of the Merrill House. Security will be on duty.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Your printed reservation ticket is not required, but if you would like to bring it we would be happy to collect/scan them at the door. It will be beneficial to the Historical Society to get an accurate count at the door.

 

This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

It Came To Pass on the Banks of this River
Sep 21 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Meta Slider - HTML Overlay - September2015Join the Jacksonville Historical Society and Players by the Sea for a dramatic reading performance of “It Came to Pass on the Banks of this River” by Matt Colaciello with Barbara Colaciello. This is an an adaptation of “NEXT DAY IN THE MORNING” by Kermit Hunter written for Jacksonville’s Ribault Quadricentennial Commission in 1962. That half-century old production was written for Jacksonville’s Ribault Quadricentennial Commission commemorating the Frenchman John Ribault’s arrival at the St. Johns River, a river Ribault called the River May. For the 400th anniversary in 1962, a massive assembly with trumpets and troops filled the city’s “new three million dollar air-conditioned Jacksonville coliseum”. The show ran for 15 days with two performances on Sundays with ticket prices ranging between $1 and $3.50.

The society’s upcoming evening features this early St. Johns River story told through the eyes of some of the world’s most powerful 16th century European women. The production also presents the Florida natives’ perspective and the viewpoint of explorers, Ribault, Laudonnière and Menendez.

The production includes trained actors in a dramatic reading of this uniquely North Florida story. It’s the ultimate story in this Year of the River. The La Caroline Colony on the St. Johns is distinguished as the first colony of European men and women seeking religious freedom on land that became U.S. soil. It is also is the event that set in motion the founding of St. Augustine and more than two centuries of Spanish occupation in Florida.

The Historical Society will host two performances. The first is to begin with a 5:30 pm reception, followed by the production at 6pm. The second performance will begin with a 7:30pm reception and 8pm performance. Please be sure to RSVP to one of the performances by signing up online using the link above or phoning the Historical Society, 904.665.0064.

Cast of Characters:

The Historian: Matthew Colaciello

The French Court
Queen Catherine de Medici:  Barbara Colaciello
King Charles IX:  Joshua Taylor
Admiral de Coligny: Robert Arleigh White
Captain Jean Ribault: David Gile
Captain René de Laudonnière: Jason Collins
Jacques Le Moyne: Joshua Taylor

The Spanish Court
Queen Elizabeth Valois: Rikki Southworth
King Felipe II: Jim Alabiso
Admiral Pedro Menendez:  Robert Arleigh White

The English Court
Queen Elizabeth of England: Hope McMath
Admiral Sir John Hawkins: Jim Alabiso

 The Saturiwa
Chief Saturiwa:  DeWitt Cooper

FAQs

What does my ticket get me?

Your ticket is your admission to see the performance at the Jacksonville Historical Society. Harkening back the original admission of Next Day in the Morning in 1962, we welcome your donations of $1 – $3.50 the night of the performance. The Jacksonville Historical Society is a non-profit organization and all donations will support the collection and preservation of Jacksonville history.

What are my parking options getting to the event?

Free parking is available in the lot behind the Merrill House, or park along Duval Street, east of the Merrill House. Security will be on duty.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Your printed reservation ticket is not required, but if you would like to bring it we would be happy to collect/scan them at the door. It will be beneficial to the Historical Society to get an accurate count at the door.

 

This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Oct
8
Thu
2015
The Mad Atlas of Virginia King
Oct 8 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

The Mad Atlas of Virginia KingBook Launching and Signing at Old St. Andrews!

The Mad Atlas of Virginia King  by Tim Gilmore

with Hurley Winkler and Kiley Secrest

 

 Listen to Tim Gilmore’s interview with WJCT’s Jessica Palombo as they walk through Riverside and discuss Virginia King.

Virginia King wrote an 8,448-page highly inaccurate book about her hometown of Jacksonville. The title was almost as long. She said her brother was dead. He said he’d never heard of her. Always dirt poor, she called the wealthiest people in the city “my little friends.” From 1915 to 2001, Virginia lived in 18 different residences, mostly in Riverside, and residents who remember her call her a “Riverside character.”

Virginia King in front of the Carnegie Library as the Hayden Burns Library is under construction.

Virginia King in front of the Carnegie Library as the Hayden Burns Library is under construction.

This new nonfiction novel about Virginia King includes reminiscences from local residents Helen Lane, Wayne Wood, Sarah Van Cleve, Pokey Towers Lyerly, Elizabeth Towers, Charlie Towers, Jerry Ferguson, Joel McEachin, and many others. The book celebrates the strange treasures of the Jacksonville Historical Society archives.

The book includes meaningful musings by Hurley Winkler, of Perversion Magazine and Swamp Radio, and hand-drawn maps by Springfield resident and architectural portraitist Kiley Secrest. Though she got so much of Jacksonville’s history wrong, her work touches innumerable aspects of it, and her devotion and commitment are perhaps unmatched. When Reverend Tom Are gave Virginia’s eulogy, he said, “It seems to me that Virginia King served as something of a prophet in our town.”

The reception and book signing will begin at 6:30pm. Dr. Gilmore will present his findings on Jacksonville’s unique character, Virginia King, at 7pm.

Dr. Gilmore is the author of several books, including In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People (2014), Stalking Ottis Toole: A Southern Gothic (2013) and This Kind of City: Ghost Stories and Psychological Landscapes (2012). He’s the creator of Jax Psycho Geo, which features nearly 250 stories about significant places across Jacksonville, Florida. He teaches Literature and Composition at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

 

This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Jan
25
Mon
2016
Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses
Jan 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Lights, camera, action!

Join the Jacksonville Historical Society Monday, January 25 for a reception and program on Jacksonville’s theatre and performance history. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30pm with the program to follow at 7pm. Author and speaker Dorothy K. Fletcher will present the theatres, drive-ins and movie houses that brought entertainment to Jacksonville citizens. FletcherBookSome have passed into memory. The Dixie Theatre, originally part of Dixieland Park, began to fade in 1909. The Palace Theatre, home to vaudeville acts, was torn down in the ’50s. The Alhambra has been everyone’s favorite dinner theatre since 1967’s debut of Come Blow Your Horn.

Local author Dorothy K. Fletcher revives the history of Jacksonville’s theatres in her new book Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses,dorothyfletcher published in 2015. Mrs. Fletcher retired from the Duval County Public School System in 2007 after thirty-five years of teaching English classes. She was then able to  embrace her passion – writing. Her monthly column, “By the Wayside,” which she wrote for the Florida Times-Union, led to a series of history books she has written about her beloved home, Jacksonville, Florida. She and her husband, Hardy, love traveling and hanging out with their grandchildren.

 

** Due to illness, the original program scheduled for January 25th, “The History of Jacksonville’s Jewish Community” with Marcia Jo Zerivitz will be rescheduled for a later date.**

This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A. Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Mar
30
Thu
2017
Florida’s Fleet: A Shrimping Legacy from the First Coast
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Shrimp boats in Jacksonville, Florida. © Florida Memory

The Jacksonville Historical Society and Brendan Burke, author and underwater archaeologist with the St. Augustine Historical Society and Museum‘s research center LAMP, will present a program on Florida’s Fleet: A Shrimping Legacy from the First Coast on Thursday, March 30th beginning with a reception at 6:30pm followed by the program at 7pm.

During the early 20th century, a new type of boat was born in Northeast Florida. Forged from Greek, Italian, Norwegian, African-American, and native Floridian hands, the Florida-style trawler became one of the most important boats in the state’s history. From 1919 until the mid-1980’s, Florida supplied the world with shrimp trawlers and commercial fishing boats of all types. In Northeast Florida, the enterprise grew into a multi-billion dollar industry that contributed to over 23 foreign fishing fleets. Ultimately, Florida would be responsible for the largest purpose-built wooden fishing fleet ever assembled.

We ask that you register for the event via Eventbrite. Please click the ticket icon above to register for you seat. You may also email or phone the society to make your reservation.

About the speaker

Brendan Burke, Archaeologist and Logistical Coordinator with LAMP.

Brendan Burke is a maritime archaeologist at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum in the museum’s research wing, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). Since 2007, he has researched the commercial shrimping history of Florida, and in 2013 co-authored Shrimp Boat City with Ed Long, a St. Augustine native. When he is not researching commercial fishing, Brendan may be found underwater or onboard the research vessel ROPER, diving and excavating a shipwreck from the American Revolution off St. Augustine’s beach. He holds a B.A. in history/anthropology from Longwood University and an MA in historical archaeology from The College of William and Mary.

Jun
22
Thu
2017
An Evening with Mayor Jake with former Mayor Jake Godbold
Jun 22 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Mayor Jake Godbold, c. 1980s. From the Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

Join the Jacksonville Historical Society for our June program, June 22nd, for “An Evening with Mayor Jake” with former Mayor, Jake Godbold, at 630pm.

Jake Godbold’s presence on the city’s political scene has spanned decades.  He served as Jacksonville’s Mayor from January 1, 1979 through June 30, 1987.

Godbold was also part of the City Commission and on the first City Council after the 1968 Consolidation of county and city governments.

As Mayor, he led and showcased the city’s enthusiasm for professional football ––who could forget NFL owner Robert Irsay’s arrival and public reception at the
stadium?  Godbold also reached out to build enthusiasm for downtown development and supported the city’s arts scene; Metropolitan Park, the Jacksonville Landing and the Prime Osborn Convention Center were among some his administration’s projects.

Outspoken and engaging, the former Mayor will talk about his 81/2 years as Mayor and, perhaps, reflect on the political scene since that time.

This program and the 2016-17 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred Lanbrou, Jr.

Sep
26
Tue
2017
Winterling and Weather: A North Florida View
Sep 26 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm

George Winterling, Channel 4 meteorologist, reports on Hurricane Dora’s maneuvers, 1964.

In 1962, when George Winterling began as a meteorologist with Channel 4 television, broadcasts were black and white and reporting was live—no video tape. Prior to his 47 year career at WJCT, Mr. Winterling worked as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. In 1964, he accurately predicted Hurricane Dora would hit North Florida. He’s also known for creating a humiture index—how hot it feels—today used nationwide and beyond as the”heat-index.” Rainfall predictability was another Winterling creation. He recalls television’s earliest Jacksonville broadcasts in 1949. So eager to see more, later as a student of Florida State University, he mounted an antenna on the chimney and watched Bill Grove’s “Eye on the News” from Tallahassee. By the time he retired from Channel 4 in 2009, he was a Jacksonville institution. In this presentation, you’ll learn more about Mr. WInterling-known to all as George-and more about North Florida’s weather history.

About the speaker

Born in New Jersey in 1931, George Winterling moved with his family to Jacksonville at age 10. He graduated from Lee High School. In 1949, he joined the United States Air Force and was sent to Weather Observers School at Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois. He eventually trained at Shemya Air Force Base in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands where he observed the Pacific’s killer storms. In 1957, he earned a meteorology degree from Florida State University and was employed for five years by the U.S. Weather Bureau (now called the National Weather Service) until he was pivotal in convincing Channel 4, they needed a meteorologist. A Mandarin resident, he married his wife Virginia in 1956.

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