Treasures from the Archives

September 2017

Mayor of Italian town seeks silent film era information from JHS Archives

by Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

Among the various requests we receive on a daily basis at the historical society, I think this is one of the most unique. It read:

Hi, I’m Michele Marino, I am the mayor of a municipality in Basilicata, a small region in the south of Italy. The small town is called Trivigno and is the country that gave birth to Robert Vignola.

I’m carrying out a Robert Vignola project to keep his memory alive. I would be grateful if we could establish a contact so that you can give me information and useful documents about him.

I apologize for the bad English. Hoping for your answer, I greet you cordially, Michele Marino

Having been a lover of all things Italian and truly interested in the motion picture industry in Jacksonville, I immediately went to our JHS library and pulled out various books on the motion picture industry in Florida. In those books, I found out that Mr. Vignola was an actor/director who first arrived in Jacksonville in 1908 with the Kalem Studios.

The Kalem Studios were the first New York Studios that set up a location in Jacksonville with a stock group of artists. In their first season, they produced over a dozen short motion pictures that were an instant hit with the viewing public in Jacksonville and in the Northeast. Mr. Vignola was part of this stock group of artists and traveled the world with the company as an actor and later as a director. Wikipedia has a short article on him, with a list of the movies he was involved in as an actor and director. It also has a photo of him. And to my surprise, the Florida State Archives had various photos of him and the group of actors that made Jacksonville their home every season. To see these photos please visit Florida Memory.

As for Signore Marino, I e-mailed the information and the links to the articles. I am looking forward to his response.

August 2017

“Fashion Originals” are on display at Old St. Luke’s

Editor’s Note: The items pictured here are currently on display at the JHS Archives in Old St. Luke’s. JHS summer intern, Michalla D’Alessandro, worked with the objects collection at the JHS Archives and as part of her internship created several exhibits , including one on the iconic Jacksonville shoe emporium, Joseph La Rose. Michalla will graduate in December from UNF earning a BA in Anthropology with minors in Community Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Business management. The JHS continues to seek La Rose shoes and Archie Eason hats and other mid-20th century local fashions.

Joseph LaRose established one of Jacksonville’s crown jewels, where he showcased, arguably, the most innovative and imaginative footwear of the 20th century. A true visionary and master of his trade, Joe LaRose secured a legacy of creative control and artistic excellence. His contemporary and exotic designs captivated consumer tastes and celebrities alike, with customers ranging from Jacksonville locals to Hollywood’s Joan Crawford. The words, “fashion originals” fittingly appeared on many of his shoes and shoe boxes.

As a boy in Sicily, LaRose spent a lot of time in the neighborhood cobbler’s shop helping and learning the trade. His family immigrated to America in the 1920’s, and he served in the U.S. Army during WWII. LaRose and his wife opened their first designer shoe salon downtown in 1949, and he sold his footwear in Jacksonville for 50 years until his death in 1999.

Shopping at his boutique was a unique experience. Customers did not browse racks. Instead, LaRose would measure a customer’s foot and emerge from his storeroom with what he believed she should wear. Sometimes his selections were too outrageously wild, and the customer would leave empty-handed. LaRose would return the shoes to their spot on the shelf and wait for the right owner, one who would appreciate the particular design.

Upon his death, his warehouse collection totaled between 200,000 and 300,000 pairs of shoes and has been referred to as “King Tut’s tomb for fashion aficionados.” Since his extensive stock was discovered, his shoes and handbags have been sold and auctioned off, finding their way into museums, vintage clothing stores, and private collections.

Currently on exhibit from the collections at the JHS Archives:
Green LaRose Pumps: Joseph LaRose “Fashion Originals” bright green pump shoes.
Patchwork LaRose Pumps: Joseph LaRose “Fashion Originals” multicolored lizard skin pump shoes with teal shoebox.
Ladies Rose-Gold Sequined Hat: Wool hat with sequins and brown velvet ribbon from Terry Sales Corp. NY with “Sablow’s Jacksonville Florida” tag.

June 2017

Volunteer finds mother’s photo in JHS Archives and donates more images from the 1924 beach summertime photo shoot

Jacksonville native Nancy Gandy is a regular volunteer at the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives. The 1962 Ribault High School graduate retired following an active professional life at numerous local businesses, including Southern Bell, WJXX, ABC-25, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Jacksonville Port Authority and the YMCA. She also volunteered in the Duval County Public Schools and for St. Luke’s Hospital.

Nancy works with the society’s photo collections and rare papers. She’s also taken on the task of transcribing old letters. She says, “It’s a challenge that often proves rewarding.”

Recently, when organizing photos at the JHS Archives, Nancy mentioned to the staff that she saw her mother in one of the JHS photos and her aunt in another. Her mother, Margaret McMann (Miller), was featured in a 1924 Pablo Beach promotional photograph known as the “Pablo Beach Bathing Beauties.”

Nancy realized her mother’s old records at home included some of the same photographs found in the JHS Archives and additional ones that seemed related. There was also a June 1924 letter in her mother’s papers from the photographer, J.T. DeGroot telling Margaret that her pictures of the “Bathing Beauties” made at Pablo Beach were ready and available at his Main Street Studio.

The family photographs and papers showed that in August of 1924, Margaret traveled in a “bus-like” vehicle with the “bathing beauties” to a series of Georgia towns; their mission was to promote Pablo Beach, and specifically an August 21 and 22 Georgia-Florida Fete at the beach. By the following year, 1925, the beach was renamed Jacksonville Beach.

Nancy recalls her mother told her that the photos were publicity shots and the photographer asked the women to hold cigarettes to make the images and beach scene seem more exciting. She said her mother, born in 1909, was only 15 at the time of the 1924 photos. Margaret died in Jacksonville in 1997.

The “Pablo Beach Bathing Beauties” at the Gulf Refining Co. on 3rd and Main Street in Jacksonville, Florida, 1924, Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

Nancy recently donated a mix of copies and original photos of her mother and other family members, many never seen before by the staff, to the Jacksonville Historical Society. The original JHS photos that were identical to Nancy’s photos were associated with Cohen Brothers Department Store in Jacksonville. Nancy said, to her knowledge, her mother never worked for Cohen’s, but played ball on their employee team. She said, her mother was a toll operator for Southern Bell (later Bell South), and she married George Miller, also a Southern Bell employee, who retired after 50 years with the company.

Nancy Gandy came to the JHS Archives to volunteer because she “loves history and loves to research family genealogy and thought the JHS would be a good place to volunteer.” She not only enjoys her work at the JHS Archives, but she also enjoys giving tours in the Merrill Museum House and JHS data base entry. She said, “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to learn more about city history and connect with stories she heard throughout her childhood from her parents.”

February 2017

Limoge China features local favorite — citrus!

Henry Flagler brought the railroad to Florida and the railroads brought the tourists. And following the tourists, souvenir shops opened in their wake. These are the pre-digital tourists, the ones that could not post a photo on Facebook or Instagram to prove to their friends that they had gone away on vacation. So, souvenirs not only served as mementos of a great vacation, but as proof that indeed you had traveled to exotic locates. And it did not get more exotic in the United States than going to Florida, where alligators roamed the streams and tropical plants and fruits covered the landscape.

Although some tourists were happy to buy a memento covered in reptilian skin, the discerning traveler would have visited Greenleaf and Crosby. Damon Greenleaf came to Jacksonville from New York two years after the Civil War and established a jewelry store on Bay Street. In 1880, J. H. Crosby joined the company, which later became known as Greenleaf & Crosby Co. _Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida_ described the store in 1885 as “a perfect museum of ancient and modern art,” with “a magnificent display of diamonds and costly articles of jewelry” and a “display of antiquities interspersed with artistic specimens of modern bric-a-brac.” Its museum of Florida curiosities included flamingo plumes, seashells, coral, pink curlew wings, and alligator heads, eggs, and teeth. In the back of the store was a collection of rare birds and animals, presumably in cages.

They opened stores in every town Mr. Flagler built a hotel. The firm commissioned a porcelain factory in Limoges, France, to design and produce beautiful plates, cups, saucers, tureens and punch bowls edged with gold and adorned with oranges. This beautiful china was not only bought by tourists, but by Jacksonville residents who must have enjoyed setting their tables with the emblems of the State.

A few months ago Mr. and Mrs. Robert Davenport from Palm Coast offered JHS a selection of the Limoges porcelain. Mr. Davenport’s mother, Jennie Emily Elder Davenport, a third generation Duval County native, had acquired the china after her marriage to Thornwell (Ted) Elliott Davenport. They were among the first residents of Alderman Park in Arlington and their children all graduated from Terry Parker High School.

October 2016

Early 20th century campaign method: Old fashioned letter writing!

In many Christian traditions, November 1st is celebrated as All Saint’s Day. This is a day in which the living remember all those who have died. Probably the best known celebration of All Saint’s Day happens in Mexico, where the living take food and offerings to the graves of their loved ones, and dress in costumes and have great parties. At the archives, we celebrate the lives of those that have passed on by taking care of the papers that document their lives and times.

Recently, while reviewing collections at the archives, we found a cache of letters that were written between 1899 and 1908. These letters were said to have come from the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward House and were given to the society’s Executive Director, Emily Lisska, by an antiques dealer. Most of the letters were written to Elsie Douglas, Mr. Broward’s sister in law and one of the first female lawyers in the State of Florida.

The first letter is previewed below:

Mabel, Fla
March 23, 1908
Mr. N. B. Broward
Tallahassee, Fla

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your letter of March 17th and was glad to hear from you. I have rec’d a letter about 3 months ago from Mr. Bryan before he was appointed. He wrote me about being a candidate. I W [sic] he wrote me to find out if I could stand by him as I did you. And I wrote him back that I could vote for him providing he was not a corporation man. Or Railroad man. He wrote me back that he was not. That he stud [sic] for the people I wrote from that I would vote for him. They are four Blas [sic] here that will give them their support. I saw Mr. Barmer of Mascotte. I told him about the letter I rec’d from Mr. Bryan. Mr. Barmer said he would vote for Mr. Bryan for he was the man for us. Mr. Dutton of Mascotte is a man that works lots of people, he is a turpentine man. At this place. If you haven’t wrote [sic] Mr. Dutton & Barmer please write them. I’ll be glad if you will write Mr. N.Y. Bryan he is good on talking for a man. I will be glad if you will write Mr. Bill Revels of Linden. All so [sic] Bill Pridgeon of Linden they will talk up for Bryan.

If it is not to [sic] much trouble send [sic] Mr. Tom Bevill of Center Hill. If you kent [sic] wrote [sic] him & ask Mr. Bevell to work for him at Center Hill. All so [sic] C.F. Vineable of Center Hill he will work. & Mr. Traylor of Sumter Ville & Goree Nelson & one to John Tillman if we mark a race we will have to begin soon and wright [sic]. I will show my letter & do all I can for him.

Let me hear how Mr. Bryan is getting along. When you rec’d this letter.

Hop [sic] I see they [sic] are 7 more against him. Some people [sic] Fletcher they are recommending Mr. Beard in the newspaper. I don’t know so much about Mr. Fletcher But [sic] I do know that Mr. Beard is a corporation man.letter-from-strickland-to-broward

Hoping to hear from you soon.
I am yours
Shade Strickland
I will talk the man you recommend.

The specific letter highlighted in this article was written to Mr. Broward while he was Governor of Florida in 1908. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was born in Duval County and after working as a river pilot and getting involved in politics, he was elected Governor of Florida in 1905. When he received the letter above from Mr. Strickland, the Florida Senator for the US Congress, Stephen Mallory II had died and William James Bryan, a Duval County lawyer, had been named to complete Mr. Mallory’s unexpired term.

What Mr. Strickland did not know when he wrote the letter to Governor Broward on March 23, 1908 was, that Mr. Bryan had contracted typhoid fever upon his arrival to Washington, DC to complete Mr. Mallory’s unexpired term and had died on March 22, 1908. Mr. Strickland was writing from a small community in Sumter County, Florida and news did not travel at the speed it travels today.

The letter portrays politics in the1900s, although this letter and its portrayal of politics could have been written at any given time during the 20th century. Citizens lobbied their representatives who in turn lobbied other citizens to elect the individuals who would be more apt to follow the party line. Big corporations were perceived as being more interested in the “bottom line” than in individuals.

One hundred years from now, the society’s archivist will be reading the letter that were written by individuals lobbying for their candidates for the election of 2016. We wonder what the archivist will think of those letters?

September 2016

The Virgen del Congost

The Virgen del Congost, was built in the shipyards of Arenys de Mar in 1874. The schooner sailed during seven years the route between Barcelona and Jacksonville. The ship was lost with all its crew off the coast of Florida on July 11, 1881. The Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15th. It is celebrated during this time every year because it commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the shores of Bimini (Bahama Islands) on October 12, 1492.  Although Columbus was not Spanish, the King and Queen of Spain paid for the journey that would open the American continent to European colonization. It would take another 73 years for Pedro Menendez de Aviles to sight the shores of St. Augustine on September 8, 1565. For 236 years Spanish was spoken in Florida, 41 more years than English!

Our collection contains artifacts and manuscripts that document not only the two Spanish Colonial Periods (1565-1763 and 1784-1821) but the important ties between the First Coast and the Spanish speaking countries to the east and to the south. One of these items is a model of a Spanish schooner donated to the Society by Olga and William Joos.

The Virgen del Congost, a small schooner of three masts, was built in the shipyards of Arenys de Mar in 1874. Arenys de Mar is located in the Barcelona Province of Catalonia, Spain. Under the captain-ship of Don Alberto Nadal, the schooner sailed during seven years the route between Barcelona and Jacksonville. The ship was lost with all its crew off the coast of Florida on July 11 of 1881.

The schooner was named in honor of the Virgin of Congost. Congost is a Catalan word meaning canyon. The shrine of the Virgin of Congost is located at the tip of a canyon overlooking the Noguera Ribagorzana River, which serves as a natural frontier between the provinces of Aragon and Catalonia in Spain. Just like the Menorcans that had arrived in Florida in 1768, the men that built the Virgen del Congost spoke Spanish as their second language. Their first language was Catalan, a Romance language derived from Latin. And as in all Hispanic countries, each country, and in many instances each region in a country, has its own distinctive customs, culture and in some instances language.

August 2016

The Echo 1929Resolutions

R is for resolutions you make anew
E is for everybody who intends to do better
S is for study we promise to do,
O is for orders you are to administer
L is for “Look out” when teachers come ‘round,
U is for useful which we want to be,
T is for tears we shed over our E’s,
I is for intentions we intend to fulfill,
O is for orderliness in class rooms and halls
N is for nice boys and girls that we do admire,
S is for silence which the teachers desire.
–Ernest McRae, 8B1, Kirby-Smith Middle School, The Echo, Volume VI, no. 5, Jacksonville, Florida, January 17, 1929


report card 1927A 1927 report card of a junior high school student and a school newspaper from 1929 become treasures in the archives because of the social commentary they provide for the period. These and various other items relating to Kirby Smith Junior High School were send to the Archives in the past year by donor extraordinaire Jack King. report card back 1927

The report cards and newspaper were the property of Lydia Millington who attended the school from 1927-1929. According to the 1928 Jacksonville City Directory, Miss Millington lived with her parents Charles J. and Jessie F. on the east side of Wilder Avenue, North of 63rd Street. Her father owned the house and worked as a carpenter.

Kirby-Smith Junior High School (known today as Kirby-Smith Middle School) is located at 2034 Hubbard Street. It was built in 1923 in the Mediterranean Revival Style. The school was named after General Edmund Kirby-Smith, who was born in St. Augustine, and who had been the last Confederate general to surrender during the Civil War.

It must have been very exciting for the young students at Kirby-Smith to attend a newly build school. This enthusiasm is palpable in the issues that we have of the school newspaper where class, sports, library and teacher’s news intermingle with jokes and literary pieces, such as the one that preceded this article.

Today Kirby-Smith Middle School is a historic landmark and the school, which houses 950 students, serves as a magnet school for science, mathematics and technology

Comic con and Graphic Novels: Adventures in the Archives

by Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

Many of you might be following the latest Comic Con event this summer. For the uninitiated, “Comic Con” is the acronym of Comic Book Conventions – events “dedicated for the appreciation of Uncle Toms Cabincomics and related art forms and the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture”. Although I grew up following Archie, Veronica and Betty comic books, I have become a convert to Marvel Universe comic books.

Recently the JHS Archives received as a gift a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although we have various editions of this classic, this new gift is a graphic novel. Graphic novels are similar to comic books because they use sequential art to tell a story. Unlike comic books, graphic novels are generally stand-alone stories with more complex plots. And although in this instance, it is a shorter version of the original book, the stories are compelling and may inspire the reader to learn more about the subject.

This new addition to the library was published in July, 1944 by Classics Illustrated, Featuring Stories by the World’s Greatest Authors. A subscription for 20 issues cost $3.00 or 15 cents for individual copies! Small jewels like this one abound in the archives — help us to continue keeping Jacksonville’s History Alive!

Editors Note:
Harriet Beecher Stowe books, articles and related materials are included in our collections to assist in exploring the role of this 15 year Mandarin, Florida winter resident.

June 2016

1966 Isaiah D. Hart Day Proclamation in JHS Archivesimg013

This proclamation, on the left, in the Jacksonville Historical Society archives, is another example of the wonderful items maintained and preserved at the society’s archives.

Surrounded by direct descendants of Isaiah D. Hart, representatives of the Florida and the Jacksonville Historical Societies, Mayor Louis H. Ritter signed the proclamation designating June 15, as Isaiah D. Hart Day in commemoration of the founding of the community now known as Jacksonville.

After careful research by the Jacksonville Historical Society, June 15 was most accurately pin-pointed as the moment of transition for the site on the north bank of the St. Johns to the status of a planned town. The day marked the completion of a survey of the town instigated by Hart laying out a 20-block area. Hart’s “Map of Jacksonville” covered what is today considered Jacksonville’s downtown.

May 2016

Before Twitter, there were postcards!

Hemming ParkBefore Twitter ever existed, if you wanted to communicate very briefly and inexpensively you would send a postcard. The first mailing cards, as they were called at that time, were issued in the 1840s. The postcard format we recognize today was authorized by an Act of Congress on May 19, 1898. Postcards not only became quick ways of communication, but also items collected by enthusiasts.

The collection of postcards at the Historical Society consists of hundreds of postcards that document the area from the 1890’s to the 1980’s. From amusements to the zoo, the Jacksonville Historical Society postcard collection gives historical evidence of the various activities in the area.

pc2-3At times, postcards are the only remaining image of Jacksonville in a particular place and time. Postcards were sent around the nation from tourists who delighted in all Jacksonville had to offer. The past can still be viewed today in these postcards–a picture or rendering of what Jacksonville looked like at a moment in time, so we may see it now.

The Postcard Collection is housed at the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives, located in Old St. Luke’s Hospital at 314 Palmetto Street. Come by or schedule an appointment to view this wonderful collection!

February 2016

1927 building boom photos help tell the city’s story


The Woodward Photo Collection

According to the Jacksonville Historical Society’s 1981 journal, Papers, “the original officers of the Society began early to collect memorabilia, photographs, books, pamphlets, diaries and documents.” This tradition of collecting Jacksonville’s history continues today, and we are always delighted to fulfill our mission by accepting relevant materials.

Earlier this month, the society gained a wonderful collection of Jacksonville photos donated anonymously. The photos have all been identified as captured during 1927, and associated with The Woodward Studio, a Jacksonville photography business. The collection features a unique time in Jacksonville history; reports indicate “by the end of 1926, $21.9 million in new construction had been started in Jacksonville” (Old Hickory’s Town, p. 208). The collection clearly reflects this exciting construction era—most in the city’s downtown.

George T. Woodward (collection’s namesake) is found in the 1918 Polk’s Jacksonville City Directory listed as a photographer with an office at 32 ½ West Forsyth Street and living with his wife, Minnie, at Main and the SW corner of 27th Street. By 1920, Minnie is a widow, but continues to be listed as the owner of the business on Forsyth. In 1921, Charles W. Dishinger is listed as a photographer who works for Mrs. M. B. Woodward.

According to the 1922 Polk’s Jacksonville City Directory, The Woodward Studio, Inc. was located at 21 West Adams Street with the slogan, “where your heart is, your photograph ought to be.” Minnie B. Woodward is the Vice-President and Treasurer of the Woodward Studio and is living at 3860 Main Street. Charles W. Dishinger is listed as the President.

By 1927, the date assigned to photos in the collection, The Woodward Studio, “photographs of distinctive quality,” is located at 33 W. Monroe Street. The studio was advertising portrait and commercial photographers, coloring and picture framing.

By 1947, The Woodward Studio, Inc. changed its name to Dishinger-Woodward Studio and in 1954 became The Dishinger Studio, located at 2546 Riverside Avenue, until it closed in 1966.

This collection of 79 photos is currently being processed and while most images have been identified, some photos remain a mystery! If anyone is interested in the archival process or would like to help identify old city images, please contact the JHS Archives for volunteer opportunities or more information here.

As soon as the collection is processed, we will provide the link so you may view them online!


January 2016

“The Stag”

BY Tayrn Rodriguez-Boette

One of the functions of the archives’ staff is to help researchers look for their ancestors. Many times the information the researcher provides is minimal, but the results are phenomenal. We received the following request in mid-November:

“Hey! My name is Jessica Shultzaberger. I have been doing family research that has taken me to the Jacksonville, FL area. I have some questions that I’m wondering if you could help me with… It is rumored that my great-great grandfather on my great-grandmother’s side owned a bar in downtown Jacksonville called “The Stag” located at 213 Main St. I have a picture of the inside of the bar and was wondering if you could give me any information on this bar. Not sure about the time frame. I am also willing to share this picture.”

“The Stag” courtesy of Jessica Shultzaberger.

We asked Ms. Shultzaberger to send a digital copy of the photo, which she did. With photo on hand we determined that the time period the photo was taken was the mid 1930s-40s. Then we search by address in the Jacksonville City Directory and low and behold, we found “The Stag” in the 1938 City Directory.

From reading through the 1930s City Directories we discovered that “The Stag” was owned by Edward F. Bazar who was married to Wilma. They had two children – Frances and Vincent. Mr. Bazar owned the building from 1933 until 1938. From 1933 to 1937, 213 Main Street housed the Edward F. Bazar Restaurant. In 1939 the building became Robin’s Liquor Store and Coll’s Bar. We assume the building was sold at that time.

As it happens, Mr. Bazar was Ms. Shultzaberger great-great grandfather. She was thrilled that we had been able to find some information about his establishment. We were thrilled to have another great story and photo for the archives. Our treasures might not be big or shiny but they help us continue to weave the story of Jacksonville.


November/December 2015

The Humpty Dumpty Circus

by Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

Not all of the archives’ treasures are found in the Old St. Luke’s Hospital building. Sometimes you need to visit other institutions with great collections to broaden your horizons. This December we are showcasing a 19th century toy exhibit, Playing with History: The Joys and Noise of 19th Century Toys, in the Merrill House. I had the pleasure of perusing the toy collections of MOSH and of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine and picking some of their items for our exhibit— probably one that everyone will enjoy seeing: The Humpty Dumpty Circus toys.

The first major American company to break into the German-dominated toy-making industry was the Schoenhut Company. The Philadelphia Company was founded in 1872 by Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant who came from a long line of toymakers.

In 1903, Schoenhut Company manufactured a wooden toy set known as the “Humpty Dumpty Circus.” The circus, named after a popular 19th century play by George Washington Lafayette Fox, became the company’s most popular product. The circus initially included Humpty Dumpty the clown and a barrel, chair, and ladder. Later, circus performers, a ringmaster, acrobats, a lion tamer, and several animals were added. All characters and animals were fully jointed with elastic cord allowing children to position their heads and limbs. The circus, ranging in price from 50 cents to six dollars, was a hit nationally and internationally with exports to Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

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

October 2015

Subtropical Exposition

It must have been exciting to be in Jacksonville during the winter of 1887-1888! The city must have been abuzz with the construction of the spectacular building for the Sub-Tropical Exposition. Subtropical Exposition medalThe building resembled a Moorish Castle topped by towers and minarets. Finally on January 12, 1888, the Sub-Tropical Exposition opened at the waterworks site on Main and First Streets. As the southern Atlantic coast fought with the Pacific coast for the tourism industry, the exposition was created to attract visitors to Jacksonville. Inside the enormous building was an electrically-lit fountain of stone and coral with a pond containing tropical fish.  Exhibits included a Seminole Indian chickee, displays of Florida farm products, an art gallery, two artificial lakes, and a zoo.  The exposition was so popular that President Grover Cleveland and his wife visited it in February 1888. Unfortunately, that same summer Jacksonville was struck with a yellow fever epidemic and interest in visiting the city was greatly reduced. The exposition went on for three more winters but by 1897, the main hall was razed. The archives collection contains various items and photographs that document this exciting event in Jacksonville’s history.

September 2015

The Cup of Spain

CupofSpainAmong the amazing treasures stored at the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives is the so called “Cup of Spain”. The almost two feet tall silver trophy was commissioned by Congressman Charles Bennett to salute the winners of the annual Jacksonville Marathon, starting in 1986. On that year Mark Sheehan won the marathon, followed by Herb Wills who won the marathon three years in a row. In 1990 Bill Fisher was the winner, Peter Glavin won in 1991, Jerry Lawson in 1992 and Sean McCormack and Alec Rukosuev in 1993. The list of winners engraved on the trophy ends on that year.

In the Congressional Record of October 17, 1986, Congressman Bennet explained: “the next thing I did with regard to the history of my home town was to ask the King of Spain if he would give a cup to the marathon which is run every year in Jacksonville, so today we have the Spanish Cup which is the winning cup of the marathon race in Jacksonville, FL.”

The Cup of Spain trophy was made in Spain in 1985. It displays the Spanish Royal Coat of Arms and a caravel on its top. The caravel is reminiscence of the ship Christopher Columbus and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sailed from Spain to the New World. The cup recognizes Spain’s contributions to the cultural heritage of Northeast Florida during its 255 reign over the peninsula.


August 2015

Honoring Jacksonville’s Fallen

McEachinLetterPrivate First Class Rex R. McEachin, from Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson High School, was killed in action on January 17, 1945, in the Battle of the Bulge. The Jacksonville Historical Society Archives hold the telegrams and dog tags delivered to family members regarding his death. The telegram sent to his mother, Emma Kines, providing details on the “return of his remains” to Jacksonville and his dog tags are part of the items shown in the new exhibit in the archives titled The Spirit of ‘45: A Home-front Retrospective. If you would like to see this item and the new exhibit, please visit the archives 10:00am to 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


July 2015

JHS receives local school spirit

The Landonian
The Landonian – Landon Junior High School yearbook cover, c. 1972.

Recently, the archives received a collection of “time capsules.” Yet, these are not the type of time capsules that most would think of. These time capsules are full of memories, signatures, and school spirit; and most memorable of all, are the senior pictures.

In the past, the archives has housed a number important school yearbooks, but never as vast a chronology. The archives was contacted by a former band director about a collection of yearbooks from Robert E. Lee Senior High School and Lakeshore Junior High School. These yearbooks came with a story; his in-laws were administrators at these schools, and the yearbooks, dating from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, were a family treasure for a number of years.

Yearbooks are cherished by those who have them, but most do not see their historical significance. These yearbooks are a treasured resource for researchers; they are used for family histories; they are cross referenced with city directories; and they provide photos not seen before! Yearbooks get just as much research mileage as our city directories.

We invite you to come in and take a look at these rare gems, but we also encourage you to donate your Jacksonville-area yearbooks!

June 2015

The Kellogg Album

A gem in the Historical Society Archives

The photo requested by the Sandcreek Massacre National Historic Site for the National Park Service Trading Card Program. From the Jacksonville Historical Society, Kellogg Album Collection.

This scrapbook of photographs, drawings and embellishments was created by Edward B. Kellogg in the late 1870s. Kellogg was part of the Alvord, Kellogg & Campbell Company, a souvenir shop located at 57 West Bay Street in Jacksonville. The album contains images that were later made into stereographs and sold to Jacksonville tourists at the souvenir shop.

Mr. Kellogg visited St. Augustine in 1877. He likely wanted to see the seventy-two Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho and Caddo Indian prisoners that had been brought to Fort Marion (today Castillo de San Marcos) after the Red River Wars in Oklahoma and Texas.

When the Indian captives arrived at Fort Marion, their hair was cut and they were issued European-style clothing. They were forced to assimilate into the European -American culture. They were taught English and encouraged to produce works of art, later called ledger art, for sale.

After three years of imprisonment, the Indians held at Fort Marion were released to the custody of the Indian Office. Most of them returned to their tribes.

In 2014, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site contacted the Jacksonville Historical Society to request the use of a photo from the Kellogg Album for their trading card program titled “From Civil War to Civil Rights”. The photo of Medicine Water and his wife, Moshi, who were imprisoned at Fort Marion from 1875 to 1878, completed the series!

“The Jacksonville Historical Society was proud to provide this treasured piece of history,” said JHS staff member, Meghan Powell.

To view the trading cards, please visit the NPS Flickr site.

To view the Kellogg Album, please visit Our Collections.

 May 2015

Spanish Restaurant provides nostalgia 

Spanish Restaurant Menu: older residents often recall meals at the restaurant, once located near St. Andrew’s.

Supporter par excellence and JHS past president Phil May Jr. recently donated a menu of the Spanish Restaurant. The restaurant, located at 828 E. Adams St. was owned by Juan and Cristobal Calvo. A cursory research of the restaurant using Polk’s City Directory shows that restaurant opened sometime in 1920 and was in operation until 1949. In the 1932 city directory Juan is living in Santander, Spain while Cristobal resides locally with his wife Margaret. By 1950 the restaurant had closed its doors and Margaret Calvo appears in the city directory as being a widow.

After reading the menu, which is handwritten in Spanish, I wished the Spanish Restaurant was still in operation. Imagine starting your meal with an appetizer of sardines, followed by Galician soup, mixed salad and Andalusian pig’s feet. These might not seem appetizing to you, but I, who was raised in Puerto Rico, had wonderful memories of soups so thick you could eat with a fork, and stewed pig’s feet served over rice and chick peas so tender that they would fall off the bone. Reading through this menu makes me a little home sick. Maybe I need to cook some Spanish food this week-end!!

To view the Spanish Restaurant Menu and other items in the collection, please visit the archives at 314 Palmetto Street, Tuesday – Thursday 10:00am to 4:30pm.

 April 2015

Jack King donates 1940s Silk Pillowcase

1940s Jax Silk PillowcasaeWe always appreciate the items members and friends donate to the archives. This particular item, made us extremely happy – especially because of the quality. The Jacksonville, Florida souvenir silk-decorative-pillow-cover dates to 1941. It is an excellent representation of Jacksonville at this time period.

Jack H. King has been donating items to the Historical Society for years. He is a regular contributor to the society, with a box or two (at least!) of Jacksonville items every month! His secret to finding precious Jacksonville gems like this one is under lock and key. Last May, Mr. King received an award from the City of Jacksonville’s Historic Preservation Commission on his continued efforts to help the Historical Society preserve the city’s history. We thank Mr. King for all he has done, and continues to do.

March 2015

W.A.B Worley Trophy Presented to JHS 

The trophy recently given by Sister Elizabeth Worley reads,” Presented by Jacksonville Board of Trade Atlantic Boulevard Celebration Atlantic Beach, FLA July 12th, 1910 for five mile event won by Hupmobile Entered by W.A.B. Worley Driven by E.B. Sinkler.”

After twenty-six years of dreaming, scheming and building, the road from Jacksonville to the ocean finally became a reality. On June 28, 1910, over 100 decorated automobiles filled with the most prestigious families of Duval County paraded through the streets of downtown Jacksonville on their way to celebrate the opening of the “Beach Road”. Miss Marie Hyde broke a bottle of champagne over the new concrete bridge at Little Pottsburg Creek and christened the road Atlantic Boulevard.

Thousands of people took the train to the beach to celebrate the opening of the road. Among the entertainment of the day were car races. The first race was won by W.A.B. Worley driving a Hupmobile with a final time of two minutes and fifty-five seconds.

In January 2015, Mr. Worley’s granddaughter, Sister Elizabeth Worley, donated the trophy that her grandfather won on that day, to the JHS.

If you would like to see the trophy or learn more about Jacksonville’s history, please visit the archives at 314 Palmetto St., Tuesday – Thursday, 10am – 5pm or visit our new website at

To read more about the opening of Atlantic Blvd., please click here.