About Murray Hill
The story of what would become Murray Hill dates back to 1815, when Robert Hutchinson was granted 150 acres along the St. Johns River to establish a plantation. By 1836, William McKay owned what had grown to become a 500 acre property called Magnolia Plantation. At Magnolia, 50 enslaved cultivated the land, producing sea island cotton.
In 1850, the plantation was acquired by Elias Jaudon. Producing cotton, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, corn, sheep and cattle, Jaudon expanded the plantation into an operation covering more than 1,000 acres of land. In 1838, Jaudon and Peggy (enslaved by Jaudon) became charter members of Baptist denomination in Jacksonville. That congregation would later become The Bethel Church and the First Baptist Church in Downtown Jacksonville. Jaudon’s Magnolia Plantation was sold in 1871, becoming several truck farms during the late 19th century.
In March 1884, the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway was completed between Jacksonville and Palatka. In 1899, it became a part of Henry B. Plant’s Plant System. Plant, who started Jacksonville’s first streetcar line in 1880, was the railroad tycoon responsible for connecting Jacksonville to the north by railroad, enabling the city to become a Gilded Era tourist resort destination. This railroad would bring an end to the steamboat era along the St. Johns River. However, it would spur new development along its path.
In 1884, a group of northern investors led by James Randall Challen of Cincinnati, OH, William Harksheimer and Union veteran Colonel John Talbott, acquired a portion of the old Jaudon Plantation. A year later, this strip of land, stretching from the river to Black Creek Road (Lenox Avenue) and divided by the new railroad line, was platted as the Edgewood Subdivision. Despite being marketed to northern visitors seeking to take advantage of Florida’s mild winters, growth did not take off immediately. By 1896, all unsold lots had been acquired by the Jacksonville Suburban Land Company, led by former Edgewood Association Trustee William B. Owen, A.B. Campbell, B.F. Manier Jr.
Edgewood’s fortunes changed as a result of the Great Fire of 1901. The resulting rebuilding effort led to massive population growth north and west of the city. In December 1906, the Jacksonville Suburban Land Company conveyed the northern portion of Edgewood to the Murray Hill Land Company led by Walter C. Brobston. A few months later, Brobston replatted this former section of Edgewood as Murray Hill Heights. By the end of 1907, more than half of the development’s lots had been sold for $1,500 each. Located adjacent to the industrialized suburb of Lackawanna, developers marketed Murray Hill as the perfect place to reside for the 1,000 workers employed at the Seaboard Air Line Railway’s locomotive shops near McDuff Avenue.
In 1913, the Florida Military Academy was constructed in Murray Hill. In 1914, a streetcar line was extended to the neighborhood to connect the academy with Downtown Jacksonville. In 1916, Murray Hill was incorporated as its own town with Hugh Lauder serving as its first mayor. At the time, the Town of Murray Hill was bounded by Fishweir Creek, Lenox Avenue, Gilmore, Nelson and Kingsbury streets.
The initial fanfare of Murray Hill being its own incorporated community didn’t last long. Within a decade after electing its first mayor, the young city became known as “Murray Bottom.” $300,000 in debt, Murray Hill’s residents desired annexation into neighboring Jacksonville. At the time, Jacksonville had its problems as well. Long known as the largest city in Florida, Tampa had just surpassed it in population. Adding Murray Hill’s residents would be just enough for Jacksonville to one-up Central Florida’s largest city. Thus in 1925, the Town of Murray Hill was annexed by Jacksonville.
Edgewood Village, also known as the First Block, rapidly developed as a streetcar connection to Jacksonville, eventually serving as a commercial district for Murray Hill.
Inside the Flamingo Coffee Bar at 1176 Edgewood Avenue South.
Community Loaves Bakery at 1116 Edgewood Avenue South.
The Murray Hill Baptist Church was originally established in 1936. The original sanctuary was located in what is now Herbert Bayer Park. In 1948, the church relocated to the present building facing Post Street.
*The intersection of Wolfe and Hamilton Streets. Murray Hill’s peak building period occurred during the 1940s, when 1,700 homes were constructed in the area. Residential architectural styles in Murray Hill include Bungalow, Craftsman, Prairie School, Colonial, Tudor Revival, Art Deco and Masonry Vernacular. *
Murray Hill is home to the highest concentration of houses designed by Henrietta Cuttino Dozier. At least six houses designed by Dozier survive on the 4500 block of French Street. Born in Fernandina Beach to Henry Cuttino and Cornelia Ann (Scriven) Dozier, Dozier (1872-1947) is recognized as the first female architect in the state of Georgia and the city of Jacksonville. Through her career, she primarily designed churches, schools, government buildings, apartments and houses. To overcome discrimination, she was known to disguise her gender with various male-sounding or gender-neutral names such as Cousin Harry, Harry and H.C. Dozier.
Taking its name from its location at the four corners of the Lawnview Street and Lamboll Avenue intersection, Four Corners Park is a 7.38-park with a lighted walking and jogging trail, benches and playground equipment amid a mature landscape.
The Murray Hill Art Center at Herbert Bayer Park. The art center occupies the former location of the Murray Hill Church. Today, it is one of the city’s principal visual arts centers.