Dr. E.H. Armstrong in 1914.

Four decades before Arlington became known as Jacksonville’s rapidly growing suburb, there was Riverview. Perched on hills and bluffs between the Trout and Ribault Rivers, Riverview is one of the few neighborhoods outside of the historic urban core that was designed to be every bit as walkable and grand as Riverside/Avondale, Springfield, and San Marco.

Ten years after the Great Fire of 1901, Jacksonville had become a major boomtown in the Southeast. Attempting to take advantage of the area’s popularity and energy, Dr. E.H. Armstrong platted and began to develop Riverview in 1911. Although Armstrong’s office was located in downtown’s Heard Bank Building, his home was located on rural family property that would become Riverview.

At the time, Armstrong envisioned Jacksonville growing to a population of 400,000 within a few short years (a feat that would not be accomplished until the 1968 city/county merger) and his Riverview becoming the area’s most valuable property. Calling it a million dollar suburb, the remote location was specifically marketed to the “intelligent caucasian race”, reflecting the Jim Crow racial caste system of the region at the time.

A massive development even in today’s era, Riverview contained 3,000 50’x100’ residential lots on 600 acres of hills, gridded streets and waterfront. By 1914, typical residential lots were priced between $450 and $650, while the asking price for larger riverfront homesites ranged from $1,800 to $2,500.

In addition, he converted his waterfront home’s property into a 25-acre waterfront public park, with fine fishing, boating, bathing, etc. Known as the Riverview Tropical Gardens, it became local showplace in the 1930’s & 40’s, attracting over 15,000 visitors in 1936. It was well known for its garden trails that led visitors past lovely native and imported trees, surrounded by blooming lilies, azaleas, and roses.

Because Riverview was five miles north of the city there was no streetcar service available. To overcome this accessibility issue, a double bus service, featuring 20 daily trips to downtown Jacksonville between 6am and 11pm was provided. Lem Turner Road served as the community’s commercial heart and industries such as boat building were encouraged to located there. The road now known as Lem Turner Road was known as “Turner Ferry Road” at the turn of the century. Prior to the Civil War, there had been a bridge over the Trout River. It was burned by the Union Army, so Lemuel “Lem” Turner (1831-1912) started a ferry service.

Lemuel “Lem” Turner

Despite Armstrong’s vision, investment and marketing of Riverview, his community’s greatest years of development would not occur until after World War II when suburban growth accelerated north of Jacksonville. In 1968, 57 years after Armstrong’s plat of Riverside, it finally became a part of Jacksonville when the city consolidated with Duval County.

Page 2: Riverview in 1914

Page 3: Lem Turner Road Today

Page 4: Residential Riverview

Page 5: Riverview’s Waterfront</b>

Riverview in 1914

Prospect Street

Lem Turner Road Today

The Pig is a 4th generation family run business. E.S. Murdock started “The Pig” in 1955 on Kings Rd. Jacksonville, Florida. Eventually he operated seven stores throughout the Jacksonville area and Waycross, Georgia. The Pig currently has 4 locations in Jacksonville and one just north of the city in Callahan, Florida.

The original stores focused on the preparation of award winning barbecue. In the early 1960’s E.S. Murdock opened “The Pig Seafood” on Lem Turner Rd. which was the first restaurant to concentrate on seafood in addition to classic southern barbecue selections. The idea of serving seafood was inspired by a friend of E.S. Murdock’s, Marvin Roseberry, who owned a shrimp boat at the time.</i> https://www.facebook.com/ThePigBarBQ/info

Henry F. Kite Elementary School was completed in 1929 and originally known as the Riverview Elementary School. Between 1930 and 1960, Kite served as the school’s principal. After Kite’s retirement, the school was renamed in his honor in 1964.

Riverview Elementary School (Henry F. Kite) shortly after its completion.

The five blocks of Lem Turner Road between Soutel Drive and Elm Street form the commercial heart of Riverview. Originally developed before cars became the way of life in Jacksonville, many commercial buildings line the street because they were designed for the pedestrian.

Located on Lem Turner Road, Riverview Millworks, Inc. started off as a small cabinet shop and has been in business for 67 years.

Residential Riverview

The diverse residential styles of architecture along the side streets of Riverview, illustrate a community that was gradually developed over a long period of time. Many of the houses built by Armstrong before 1920 still stand surrounded by houses developed throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Homes range from modest bungalows to grand custom designed waterfront McMansions.

Crystal Springs Water operates its Jacksonville distribution center in the middle of single family homes at 8774 4th Avenue in Riverview.

Riverview’s Waterfront

Along the Trout and Ribault Rivers, two tributaries of the St. Johns, several large residences line Carbondale Drive and Water Street. While Carbondale Drive is relatively flat, Water Street is built into the side of hill, creating a bluff like setting very uncommon in coastal Florida.

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The T. K. Stokes Boat Ramp is located in northwest Jacksonville, west of Lem Turner Road on the north side of the Ribault River. The land was originally part of the Riverview subdivision platted in 1911. Duval County purchased a portion of the site in 1956, and also leased adjacent property. The facility contained a softball field, basketball court, playground, and tennis courts by 1965. Three boat ramps had been added by 1978, and the leases were eventually terminated and the athletic amenities eliminated. In 1992, the City completed a major renovation of the ramp and also expanded the site by purchasing one-acre of land to the west. Prior to 1965, the facility was named for Thomas K. Stokes, Jr. (1915-2002), a local civic leader and Duval County commissioner. He served as the Illustrious Potentate of the local Morocco Temple of the Shrine, as president of the Opportunity Branch of the YMCA, and as a board member of the Big Brothers.

http://www.coj.net/departments/parks-and-recreation/recreation-and-community-programming/parks/t–k–stokes-boat-ramp.aspx

In 1979, the City purchased land for Riverview Park from the estate of H.S. Walker. This site was originally the property of Dr. E.H. Armstrong, who developed it into the Riverview Tropical Gardens. By the 1950s, it was the site of Sid Walker’s Riverview Amusement Park, which featured a major roller rink called Stake-O-Rama, 10 rides, restaurants, a swimming pool, beach, ballroom and picnic areas. In 1959, a large portion of the site was carved out for the construction of a shopping center that was anchored by K-Mart for a number of years. Although K-Mart closed in May 2010, it was replaced by Roses discount store in September 2011. Through the years, the wooded area and river setting, coupled with a playground area for children, continue to make this hidden city park a popular get-a-way spot for families.

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