Haydon Burns Library (1965)

40 Adams Street East

Designed by architect Taylor Hardwick, the Haydon Burns Library was completed in 1965 at the cost of $3.7 million. Hardwick designed the structure to create “a bright spot in a drab urban environment. He wanted a building that would attract people and create in them an interest to enter and find out what was going on inside.” (Taylor Hardwick: 60 Years of Design; Hardwick/Hardwick). In 2015, the 126,000-square-foot building reopened as a hub for local nonprofits called the Jessie Ball duPont Center.

Old Independent Life Building (1955)

233 Duval Street West

Designed by KBJ Architects and completed in 1955, this tower served as the headquarters of the Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company until One Independent Square (Wells Fargo Center) was completed in 1975. It was then used by JEA prior to its full relocation to the Universal Marion Building in the 1990s. Stretching 260 feet into the air, the 19-story, 162,000-square-foot tower was recently acquired by St. Augustine-based Augustine Development Group for $3.7 million. The developer intends to begin construction on the $28 million adaptive reuse project by the end of 2020.

Riverplace Tower (1967)

1301 Riverplace Boulevard

During the mid-1960s, the Gulf Life Insurance Company purchased 12-acres of the former Gibbs Corporation Shipyards property on the Southbank for a new development called Gulf Life Center. It promoted the development as having urban amenities in a suburban environment. Their new 28-story headquarters, the Gulf Life Tower became the centerpiece of the project. Designed by Welton Becket and KBJ Architects and completed in 1966, it was Florida’s tallest building. In addition, until the 2002 completion of San Francisco’s Paramount Apartment Tower, it was the world’s tallest precast, post-tensioned concrete structure.

Riverton Tower Apartments (1962)

5353 Arlington Expressway

Located in Monterey, Riverton Tower Senior Center is a 12-story apartment building at the foot of the Mathews Bridge. Completed in 1962, for many years it was also occupied by Jones College. Established by Ann Harper Jones in 1918, the private college held its last classes in August 2017.

Universal Marion Building (1963)

21 Church Street West

A mixed-use development specifically designed as a major urban retail center, Downtown Center was designed by New York architecture firm Ketchum & Sharp. Completed in 1963, the site is a significant reminder of downtown’s era as Florida’s premier urban retail shopping district. Featuring the 19-story Universal Marion office building, six-story department store building, an underground parking garage, revolving rooftop restaurant and a mixed-use parking garage, the property may be the purest form of commercial mixed-use construction and urban retail development surviving in Northeast Florida. Currently occupied by the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), the complex could possibly be demolished after JEA relocates its headquarters in 2022.

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