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?
A riveting award-winning documentary, The Committee, explores the Florida Legislature’s activities to eliminate homosexuals from state colleges and universities in the early 1960s. It was, in fact, a legislative committee, commonly referred to as the Johns Committee, that undertook wide-ranging investigations to expose students and remove professors from Florida’s public institutions of higher learning. A panel discussion, including one of the students investigated some 50 years ago, will follow the documentary. The documentary was produced by University of Central Florida graduate students.
Furchgott’s, Levy’s, French Novelty, Cohen Brothers, and the Vogue Shops were a few of the Jewish retail establishments that dotted Jacksonville’s landscape with fine retail shopping–in some instances, for more than a century. Hear the stories of the families that brought business and style to our city. It’s a fascinating look at 19th and 20th century Jacksonville through the businesses of the city’s most prominent families. Noted experts on Florida history provide the early Jacksonville account, and local families and their descendants involved in some of the businesses are special guests.
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.”
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.
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. Some 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, 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.
The 60th Anniversary of the King at the Florida Theatre
Elvis performed in Jacksonville many times — once as an opening act for country music singer Hank Snow. But the Elvis appearances everyone still talks about sixty years later were August 10 and 11, 1956, when he headlined at the Florida Theatre. Judge Marion Gooding stood in the wings to insure Presley’s movements excluded hip twisting and grinding. We’ll hear from individuals who were in the audience or involved with the event.
Country music radio pioneer and concert promoter of the day, Marshall Rowland, knew Elvis and will offer firsthand accounts of “the King” in Jacksonville.
We’ll also here the story of Jacksonville’s Landon High English teacher, Mae Axton, who co-wrote the Elvis hit, Heartbreak Hotel.
Elvis is gone, but six decades later, Jacksonville still talks about his memorable local connections.
Free parking is available in the lot behind the Merrill House and Old St. Andrew’s, along Duval Street.
Security will be on duty.
Your guests are welcome.
A suggested donation for non-members is $5, students free with proper ID.
This program and the 2016-17 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A. Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.
In honor of National Preservation Month, Wayne W. Wood, the “godfather of Jacksonville History,” is speaker for the Jacksonville Historical Society annual meeting. Dr. Wood’s presentation explores Jacksonville’s greatest architectural gems, including amazing landmarks that are long gone, and his 25 favorite buildings existing in Northeast Florida. You” hear dramatic stories of local significant structures that have been rescued and preserved. Also covered during the presentation are Jacksonville’s most endangered buildings, which include some big surprises!
About the speaker
Dr. Wood, a retired optometrist, is author or editor of numerous books exploring Jacksonville’s history, including the best selling, Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future (currently out-of-print). Other publications include, but are not limited to The Jacksonville Family Album: 150 Years of the Art of Photography, The Great Fire of 1901, The Architectural of Henry John Klutho: The Prairie School in Jacksonville, The Broward Family in Florida: From France to Florida, and The Living Heritage of Riverside and Avondale. A few remaining copies of The Jacksonville Family Album will be available for sale at the May 31 program along with other books by Dr. Wood, or purchase them online by clicking on the highlighted book name.
Join the Jacksonville Historical Society and author and speaker Kay Ellen Gilmour, M.D. for a daytime program on Thursday July 20th at Old St. Andrew’s beginning at noon.
On less than an acre of land at Olive and Linden streets is Jacksonville’s Historic St. Nicholas Cemetery. The cemetery’s 240 graves represent a wealth of fascinating stories — and you’ll hear some of these stories at the July 20th presentation. Family names in the cemetery include Bayard, Bowden, Call, Clinch, Falana, Ferris, Holmes, Rogero, Mitchell and many more — presenting a surprising cross-section of North Florida individuals. Dr. Kay Gilmour’s interest and years of work discovering the cemetery’s stories was inspired by her mother, who collected and preserved family records. Dr. Gilmour’s long association with the St. Nicholas neighborhood also contributed to her interest and an eventual book, A Genealogical History of Florida Revealed in the Historical St. Nicholas Cemetery.
About the speaker
Kay Ellen Gilmour, M.D., received a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida and continued her training in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, followed by a cardiology fellowship at University of Alabama. During a decades-long practice in cardiology, she served as Memorial Hospital Medical Staff President, Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and President of Florida Independent Physicians Association. Her local board service includes the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board , the Florida/Georgia Blood Alliance. the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Memorial Hospital Jacksonville, the Mayor’s Commission on Energy Preparedness and many other professional and community activities.
This program and the 2016-17 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.
He was the greatest celebrity on earth when he touched down in Jacksonville on October 27, 1927. Five months after Charles Lindbergh’s record setting transatlantic crossing, from New York to Paris, he landed in Jacksonville
to a hero’s welcome. He was piloting his famous plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. The local Lindbergh tribute “surpassed anything in state history,” said the city’s major newspaper, the Florida Times Union. It was all part of a victory tour, and Atlanta was his next stop, but not before more people than residents lined the city’s streets— just to get a glimpse of Lindbergh — as his motorcade was escorted from the new landing field on North Main Street to downtown. Jacksonville Historical Society Past-President Ed Booth, Jr., tells the little known stories of Lindbergh’s visit—and arguably the most dramatic “invitation delivery” in area history. Ninety years to the day, we examine an unforgettable moment in Jacksonville aviation.
About the speaker
Edward M. Booth Jr., is a partner at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. He received his B. A. degree from Emory University in 1978, and was awarded his Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law in 1981. He served as chairman of The Florida Bar Aviation Law Certification Committee and The Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee. He was the 2007-8 President of the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association, a 1,200 member international association. He served on the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board of Directors (2013-2015) and oversaw the operation of four local airports having a combined annual budget in excess of 80 million dollars. An experienced pilot, he holds a multi engine Air Transport License issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Booth is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and a frequent guest commentator of Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 on topics related to aviation and air safety. He has also appeared on the news magazine Inside Edition and the Chinese network SZMG TV on matters related to recent air disasters.