History of College Gardens
1744 Academy Street
Located just north of the CSX Moncrief Yard in Mid-Westside Jacksonville, College Gardens is a mid-20th century neighborhood named because of its proximity to Edward Waters College. Platted between 1947 and 1950, the subdivision was developed by the Andover Investment Company and marketed as a community for Jacksonville’s growing Black middle class.
Organized by brothers Finley and Lawrence Kitt Tucker, the real estate investment company previously developed Durkeeville’s Durkee Gardens prior to World War II. Like Durkee Gardens, Black architects and contractors, including James Edwards Hutchins, were largely responsible for the construction of many brick residences in the neighborhood.
Born in Blakely, GA in 1890, Hutchins worked as a carpenter with nearby New Town’s Dawkins Building and Supply Company before establishing his own construction firm during the 1930s. One of the few local Black contractors that also designed their buildings, Hutchins designed many churches and residences throughout the city’s Black neighborhoods. A co-owner of the Lincoln Golf and Country Club, Hutchins also worked with the Veterans Administration to train Black carpenters, brick masons and architects after World War II.
Catering to a rapidly growing Black middle class population restricted from many areas of the city, College Gardens rapidly developed and was largely built out by the 19501950s. Land surrounding the neighborhood developed as commercial and industrial uses, including the Skyview Drive-In. An African-American theater, the Skyview operated between 1949 and 1964.
Now more than 70 years of age, the collection of attractive brick and masonry American Ranch and Minimal Traditional residences in College Gardens live on as a reminder of Jacksonville’s segregation era Black middle class community.
Historic Aerials of College Gardens
A 1943 aerial of College Gardens
A 1952 aerial of College Gardens
A 1971 aerial of College Gardens