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The JHS seeks preservation grant for its 1878 St. Luke’s

The Jacksonville Historical Society has applied for a preservation grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources to help restore much of the exterior of its National Register Site, St. Luke’s Hospital on Palmetto Street. If awarded, the grant provides funds to restore parts of the building’s envelope including all porches, railings, columns and many of its windows.

The west entrance of Old St. Luke’s, 2017.

In 2016, during Hurricane Matthew, the building’s relatively new roof provided solid protection, but the building’s envelope and some interior spaces suffered from water intrusion through windows and possibly the brick walls. The storm caused dramatic deterioration to the building’s wood porches and many of its windows. “Fortunately, none of the archival collections were compromised, but interior repairs were required in one of the offices,” said Executive Director Emily Lisska.

In May, the JHS Board agreed to pledge $50,000 in cash and $12,500 in in-kind services toward a major category state matching grant request of $75,500.

Today, the society’s Old St. Luke’s houses archives that include rare images, glass plate negatives, documents, books, film, subject files, objects and much more. The archives are filled with tens of thousands of items used by individuals, the media, government officials and researchers. Users worldwide seek information uploaded to the JHS website from the archives collections.

The building was constructed and opened in 1878, and served as St. Luke’s Hospital until a new St. Luke’s was built in Springfield in 1914. During its 36 year history at the Palmetto Street location, the hospital’s staff led the city through numerous challenges including the 1888 Yellow Fever Epidemic, the 1898 Typhoid Fever outbreak, and the Great Fire of 1901.

Many historians recognize the 1878 St. Luke’s as the first building designed in Florida to serve as a modern hospital. St. Luke’s Hospital is also the site of Florida’s first nursing school, and Florida’s first female physician was employed at St. Luke’s.

In 1989, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission gave the building its highest priority listing, a four star rating, which states the building is of “great significance to the city and warrants the maximum preservation efforts.”

If successful, the grant restoration work would begin in July 2018.


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