I present to you guys a tour of the Jacksonville neighborhood called Avondale, with some Riverside thrown in for good measure. Together, Avondale and Riverside make up Florida’s largest historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the houses and buildings seen in the pictures were constructed from 1910 to 1926.
Avondale and Riverside are two of the most walkable neighborhoods in Jacksonville, with large, mature live oak trees covering expansive sidewalks. There are three substantial commercial districts in the area. The first one pictured is pretty upscale with boutiques and nice restaurants. The second one pictured is more of a casual neighborhood center with good eateries and casual ethnic restaurants, as well as some bars and breweries. The third is our densest and oldest, and is called 5 Points. It is not pictured, but is turning into quite a dense little district reminiscent of in town neighborhoods you would find in Saint Louis or other larger cities.
Much of the architecture in the neighborhoods are in the categories of either Prairie School (we have the largest collection of Prairie architecture made famous by FLW outside of the largest upper Midwestern cities) or Mediterranean.
On to the randomized tour. Photos are hardly in any particular order. I kind of made a loop, and it was a very hot and very stormy summer weekday, so not a lot of activity.
Have to get this in first. An elementary school in the bordering neighborhood of Ortega built in the 1920s.
1925 home. A ton of Mediterranean Revival homes, especially along the riverfront (not captured) were constructed from 1922 to 1929.
One of my favorite houses in the city. Remodeled not too long ago.
One of MANY Prairie Style homes in the area. They were mostly built from 1910 to 1915.
This is one of the commercial districts. It is being redone (streetscape renovation program to widen and pave sidewalks and add sculpture, lighting, enhanced pedestrian signals, etc). It is fairly upscale and has several good restaurants.
My parents met Adam Sandler and Chris Rock here when the Super Bowl came to town. Definitely one of the best restaurants in the city.
Underwood Jewelers, run by a family member of a Birmingham family that runs the oldest continuously operating business in the country (another jeweler). Next to that is Benham Purcell’s place called Town, the original Emly Benham combined with a restaurant serving all organic local produce. I mention this because if you are in Atlanta, then this is the original. Also, if you eat at Zoe’s Kitchen, a fast growing chain, some of the family members are here (you would know this restaurant if you live in Atlanta or Birmingham or other southern cities). It’s a Greek chain, and a girl I knew named Zoe is named after the grandmother for which the restaurant is named. This Greek family is married to the Alabama jeweler family, so it’s quite an interrelated connection.
Monty’s Drive through Liquor and Bar. A staple for 3 generations. I once had a fake ID posted on their wall when I was in high school so they would remember not to let me in.
Robert E. Lee High School, built 1926. There is a nearly identical school in a north Jacksonville neighborhood designed and built in the same year by the same architect. That school goes by Andrew Jackson High.
Willow Branch library, built 1929. This was the city’s first branch library beside Andrew Carnegie’s financed Central Free Public Library built downtown in 1901. This branch has started a long tradition of placing a high importance on the city’s library system and today Jacksonville has one of the highest ranked library systems in the country and one of the best central libraries, designed by Robert A. M. Stern.
West Riverside Elementary, built 1911.
1941 Service Station turned restaurant. Local chain European Street Café.
In this arcade one can find authentic Chinese, Italian, hippie café, Arab deli (actually just moved down the street) and having a high Arab population Jacksonville probably has more Arab run sandwich shops per capita than almost any other city, and a pizzeria. One can also find a comic book store. It’s right out of a Disney movie or kid movie.
Grew up riding my bike to the “sister” location in my neighborhood. It has an authentic fountain. This building dates to 1942.
Addison Mizner designed Riverside Baptist Church, built 1924. Mizner was the famed Palm Beach architect who built several masterpieces throughout the Northeast and in Palm Beach, Miami, and Jacksonville. His mom made him design this church, he initially did not want to, but he did for free.
This is the “mood” of the neighborhood personified in a car/shop.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
St. Paul’s Catholic School, to 1923.
Catering by Liz. I worked here for a time during high school (more on that later in a different thread).
John Gorrie Junior High, built in 1923, now being converted to lofts/apartments.
13 Gypsies was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners and Drive Ins; it features dishes crafted with all local produce.
Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopalian) built in 1928. The surrounding halls and gymnasium were built starting in 1917. There are about four churches just like this in Riverside/Avondale.
1911 Bed and Breakfast.
Brand new retail building. Was to be 4 floors and feature the same type of architecture you would find in the Salamanca district of Madrid. Economy resulted in a major scale-back.
Shingle style is common in Jax closer to the beach. Rarer to find it in the intown neighborhoods.
St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Everbank’s HQ. The Jaguars Stadium just received naming rights from Everbank.
The Cummer Museum of Art. Definitely a top attraction if you come through Jacksonville. The art community in Jacksonville is very strong. Just 2 blocks over is the weekly Riverside Arts Market, which doubles as a farmer’s market. The Cummer is one of the top museums in the South and features the 2nd largest collection of original Meissen Porcelain. We also have arguably the best contemporary art museum in the south downtown, and we have two nationally prominent art collectors who really play an active role in donating their private collections and establishing galleries. One is a J&J heir, Jennifer Johnson, and the other is a retired CEO who has amassed one of the largest private collections of contemporary art.
The Garden Club. My mother is heavily involved with this. She spends her life gardening and she ran the first Root Ball as well as a couple of Cummer Garden Weeks. There are a lot of good things going on in Jacksonville in the realm of art and gardens. We have a new botanical gardens at our zoo and we have a whole citizenry privately involved in renovating parks and cleaning up and greening whole areas of the city.
Memorial Park, 1922, Olmsted Brothers out of Brookline, MA.
My grandfather grew up in this house.
The second Florida Yacht Club was located here in the 1800s and early 1900s, largely financed by William Astor of New York.
Typical Avondale Streetscape.
1913 home. There was a huge Prairie School building boom in the area in 1910-1915. This produced the most Prairie School Architectural samples outside of the likes of Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.
It was awkward taking these up and coming photos since I live not too far away and risked encountering locals.
From a greater distance.
This and the following 4-5 homes are on an alley called Bourbon Alley.
I believe this is a 1910 or 1912 home. I got a full tour once, a couple from St. Louis had just moved in, and they moved from an older similar neighborhood in St. Louis. They also collected French antiques. It’s cool that people can move from older established cities to a warmer semi-tropical city and still feel like they barely left home.
More Marble House.
I have more threads detailing the city from the waterfront, detailing Springfield, detailing downtown, and detailing St. Augustine. I am about to showcase one of our suburban markets, and then I will move on to Washington D.C. and Atlanta.