Akers-Cody Building

170 Hogan Street

Originally called the Akers-Cody Building, the Hogan Building was designed by architect E.R. Merry and constructed by Griffin Construction Company in 1921. The original facade appeared to be Prairie School. Developed by Akers & Cody of Atlanta, the foundation was designed to support a 10-story structure.

However, the two-story first phase was the only phase ever completed. Between 1934 and 1981, the building served as the long-time downtown location of Rosenblums. In 2004, the building was left empty for good when Wachovia vacated multiple structures, in a move to relocate 2,000 bank employees from downtown.

The vacant property was acquired by Jacksonville-based Ash Properties for $900,000 in December 2019. In a January 2020 Jacksonville Business Journal article, Ash stated that the company is considering demolition to create a more campus-like environment of the urban block they own.

Florida Times-Union Office Building

1 Riverside Avenue

Dedicated with great fanfare on April 15, 1967, 1 Riverside Avenue was initially dubbed as an “ultra-modern new riverfront complex.” The centerpiece of the riverfront complex is a 55,500-square-foot, five-story modern office building. Now vacant for the first time in five decades, Augusta-based Morris Communications Co. LLC. intends to raze and redevelop the riverfront property. Also home to a 223,000-square-foot production facility, Morris views the existing complex as an industrial site that it prefers not seeing vacant along the river. Conceptual redevelopment plans for the site include two 12-story, 300-unit apartment buildings, retail buildings, a five-story, 150-room hotel, 12-story and eight-story office buildings, a parking deck, and a restaurant. A portion of the 1930 McCoys Creek channel could be opened as a part of the project.

Brooklyn Freedman’s Cottage

328 Chelsea Street

During much of the Civil War, Jacksonville was occupied by the Union Army. A large portion of the Union’s soldiers were freedmen who had joined the cause to fight the confederacy in order to provide freedom for their loved ones. After the end of the war, many stuck around and settled in the northwestern portion of Brooklyn, establishing the community as a reconstruction era African-American community.

Failing in its 2013 request to become recognized as a local historic district, much of the storied Gullah Geechee neighborhood has been erased from existence with the recent emergence of Brooklyn as a popular location for urban living. With gentrification in full effect, this boarded up and abandoned post civil war cottage is the last still standing, providing a direct link with the city’s Reconstruction era past.

Kraft Heinz Foods - Maxwell House Coffee

735 East Bay Street

Maxwell House opened in Jacksonville in 1910 under a different name– the Cheek-Neal Coffee Co. West Bay Street was selected for the plant site because of its ability to receive coffee beans by barge. Since then, the industrial site has grown into a massive 400,000 square-foot coffee roasting plant.

While the company itself has had notable success, it was not always easy for the Jacksonville plant. In fact, in 1990, the plant was almost shut down. The company was faced with the decision to close one of their two major plants—the one in Jacksonville, or the one in Hoboken, NJ. A city-wide protest in Jacksonville, “Keep Max in Jax,” helped the plant in Jacksonville win.

Today, the plant operates around the clock and employs over 200 workers. It is said that plant has a $600 million impact on the city annually. Nevertheless, unprotected, it’s just as likely to be demolished than renovated into a different use, in the event Maxwell House ever closes.

Maxwell House around 1950. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/51410

Paulus Music Company

41 East Duval Street

Built in 1946, 41 East Duval Street was the long time home of the F.O. Miller Piano Company. From 1967 to 1999, it was occupied by the Paulus Music Company. Open at the height of Jacksonville’s Southern Rock scene, the Paulus Music Company was a major downtown destination for aspiring local musicians. Customers included members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and .38 Special. Operated by Fred Paulus, the store was a popular spot for touring bands on their Jacksonville stops, and held monthly jam sessions for various musicians. Volunteers in Medicine, a nonprofit clinic offering health care to uninsured workers, has occupied the building since January 2004.

Paulus Music was in an old department store building in downtown Jacksonville at Duval and Ocean. The ceilings were high, covered in old stamped tin, the walls had been coated in layers of paint probably an inch thick before you’d hit plaster. There was a large front showroom lined with linoleum (with its own healthy amount of asbestos no doubt), a counter in the back with an old ring-up cash register where you made your purchases, and an upstairs filled with rows and rows of sheet music. The walls were filled with guitars, new and used, and the floor covered in drum kits. My father had known Mr. Paulus, Fred, that is, for a long time. He was known as a friend to the local musicians from way back in the sixties – sometimes giving a young kid a special layaway deal if there was something he really wanted but just couldn’t afford. It was a hot spot for local musicians for the longest time (since this is Jacksonville, that included members of southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, and Molly Hatchet). Lots of young men would frequent the joint, checking out the Gretschs, Les Pauls, and the best rock n roll gear of the day, hanging out and talking about music. By the time I was visiting, the clientele seemed to lean more towards band kids and their parents. But the love of music and guitars was steeped deep into every surface of that local institution.

Source: https://blog.cristinawilliams.com/remembering-the-music-store

The Paulus Music Company (Courtesy of Fred Paulus)

Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home

17 West Union Street

The story of Downtown’s Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home dates back to 1851, when Calvin Oak was told that his case of tuberculosis would kill him within six months. Instead of being mentally defeated by his diagnosis, Oak relocated from Vermont to Jacksonville for a new start at life. In an environment characterized by fresh air and sunshine, Oak lived another 30 years and quickly became one of city’s most prominent citizens and businessmen. Oak became a manufacturer of guns, barrels, and cartridges. His gun plant was hailed as Jacksonville’s first factory. He also acquired and operated a jewelry store on Bay Street.

In 1856, Oak went into the marble and mortuary business with his son, Byron. After Oak’s death, this business eventually grew into the Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home. In 1914, in need of a new modern facility, architecture firm Mark & Shetfall were commissioned to design a new two-story, Prairie School style building on Union Street, just west of Main Street. Despite its rich history, the abandoned building has recently suffered significant fire damage.

Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows Hall

330 West State Street

The Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows is one of many currently unprotected buildings in downtown worthy of a local landmark designation. According to James Weldon Johnson, the Odd Fellows lodges were made up of white collar workers while the local Masonic lodges recruited largely from stevedores, hod carriers, and lumber mill and brickyard hands. Located at the southeast corner of State and Cedar (now Pearl) streets, the Odd Fellows Hall was designed as a three level building with retail on the ground floor.

Built right after the Great Fire of 1901, this is where the Cookman Institute held its graduation ceremony in 1907. A young A. Philip Randolph, the class valedictorian, gave a speech he called “The Man of the Hour.” Randolph would later organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union and the March on Washington in 1963.

In March 1912, Booker T. Washington, co-founder of the National Negro Business League and key proponent of African-American businesses, visited Jacksonville as a part of his Florida tour. Here, he attended a banquet held for him after arriving in town by special train. In later years, Zora Neale Hurston also performed at the Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows. Currently vacant, in recent years this building was occupied by River Region Human Services Inc.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com