6 Places Jacksonville Should Have Saved

September 12, 2017

It can be argued that Jacksonville is a city that has lost much of its historical identity over the years, due to untimely demolition of unique parts of its urban fabric. Here's six culturally significant downtown buildings that should have never been allowed to be demolished. Take a look and let us know if agree or if there are others you might suggest.

2. United States Customs House Post Office Building

A September 30, 1893 construction photograph of the post office building. (Florida State Archives)

From 1893 to 1940, the US Post Office building dominated Jacksonville's skyline and was a focal point of the city's cultural life. Located at the corner of Forsyth and Hogan Streets, the building was also occupied by the Tax Collector and other federal offices.  In 1933, a larger building designed by Marsh & Saxelbye was completed at the intersection of Julia and Monroe Streets.

Despite being one of a few downtown buildings predating the Great Fire of 1901, in 1940 the vacant building was demolished to make way for the construction of Furchgott's flagship department store. During the 1980s, Furchgott's became a financially troubled chain of department stores.  In 1984, after 43 years of anchoring what was once downtown's most prominent retail intersection, Furchgott's permanently shut down the six-level Art Deco store the US Post Office was demolished for.

A 1940 photograph of the post office building. (Florida State Archives)

1. The Windsor Hotel

A Windsor Hotel postcard. (The Tichnor Brothers Collection - Boston Public Library)

Originally established in 1875, the Windsor was the only Gilded Era hotel rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1901. Nine months after being destroyed by fire, Abbie Dodge and Frank Cullen, of Dodge and Cullen, reopened the new Windsor Hotel on February 15, 1902. According to the Florida Times-Union, the yellow-tinted brick building with snow-white trimmings was a mammoth one.  Its earliest guests were 200 musicians and singers associated with the Liederkranz Society of Cincinnati, who arrived three days before the hotel's official grand opening. Anchoring a full block in the heart of downtown, the Frank V. Newell-designed structure was said to be "the finest all-year-around hotel in the South."

Fuller Warren greeting guest after announcing that he would run for the Florida House of Representatives at the Windsor Hotel in November 1939. (Florida State Archives)

For the next five decades, the hotel served as a major downtown landmark. Unfortunately, the sprawling Windsor would not survive long after the end of World War II.  In 1950, it was demolished and replaced with a surface parking lot. Of interesting note, in an interview to the St. Petersburg Times, I. Morris, vice president of Cuyahoga Wrecking revealed during the hotel's demolition, a subterranean room filled with illegal whiskey was uncovered.

A 1940s view of the Windsor Hotel from the intersection of Hogan and Monroe Streets. (Florida State Archives)

Timeline compiled  by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

 PREV 1 2 3

All rights reserved Modern Cities