Five Early Jacksonville African American Architects
Despite being a major center for black commerce and culture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not much is known about Jacksonville's significant African-American history, heritage and culture. This is especially true when it comes to recognizing the contributions of early African-American architects and buildings in the development of the city that we know today. With this in mind, here are five early 20th century African American architects/builders, and a few examples of their work still standing just outside of downtown Jacksonville.
James Edward Hutchins (1890-1970)
A Hutchins advertisement in a city directory at the Jacksonville Public Library.
James Edward Hutchins was born in Blakely, GA in 1890. After arriving in Jacksonville, Hutchins was a carpenter with the Dawkins Building and Supply Company several years before establishing his own construction company in the 1930s. One of the few local African-American contractors that also designed their buildings, Hutchins is responsible for several African American churches and residences in the Collge Gardens and Durkee Gardens subdivisions. After World War II, Hutchins worked with the Veterans Administration to train African-American carpenters, brick masons and architects. Hutchins was also one of the owners of the Lincoln Golf and Country Club. Hutchins died in 1970.
The former Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Brooklyn was built by Hutchins in 1948.
Plans are underway to convert the vacant Mount Calvary Baptist Church into a craft brewery.
The former Emmanuel Baptist Church at 2221 Forest Street is said to have been built by Hutchins.