D. It is identified as the work of a master builder, designer, or architect whose individual work has influenced the development of the city, state, or nation.

While it is possible that Claude E. Sims hired the Mark and Sheftall team that designed his residence to design his new business location at 618 West Adams Street, the Planning and Development Department was not able to document their connection to the Sims Tire Company building and therefore finds that at this time, there is not enough evidence to prove the subject property meets this landmark criterion.

E. Its value as a building is recognized for the quality of its architecture, and it retains sufficient elements showing its architectural significance.

It is the determination of the Planning and Development Department that the subject property at 618 West Adams Street does not meet this landmark criterion.

F. It has distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style valuable for study of a period, method of construction, or use of indigenous materials.

Based upon City Directory and Sanborn map research, the building at 618 West Adams Street was constructed circa 1925-1926. Its architectural design reflects the Mission Revival Style, which has been linked as a first phase of the Spanish Colonial Revival. Mission style was popular from the 1890s through the 1920s. The style originated in southern California and was one of the first styles to diffuse eastward from the West. Character defining features of the style include a mission-shaped parapet roof, commonly with clay barrel tile roofing, arched openings and a smooth stucco exterior. In keeping with the mission theme, some designs include bell towers or parapets with a bell opening. The subject structure is a commercial example of the style, but still includes many of the characteristics associated with the style. The unique architectural style was seen as a western counterpart to the Georgian inspired Colonial Revival inspired by the colonial structures of the eastern states that also started around this period. Advocated by several California architects, it was further popularized after being adopted as the style used for many train stations and hotels. A befitting style for a structure located in relatively close proximity to Jacksonville’s rail lines and remnants of the old train terminal.

The simple two-story design is classified as an example of a two-part commercial block, the most common type of composition used for small to mid-sized commercial buildings. The building is constructed out of four layers of red brick, details of which are evident on the front façade in the bell opening of the parapet, the detailing around the window openings, a solider belt course below the second floor windows and a soldier course lintel above the openings of the first floor that mark the original garage bay and storefront that extended across most of the first floor facade. Additionally, the full east side elevation and north rear elevation are fully brick. Much of the brickwork is not consistent in size or color. This may be attributed to the potential reuse of 19th century brick salvaged from the previous brick veneered residence that was on the site prior to the 1925-26 construction of 618 West Adams Street.

The more recent rough coat stucco was added when the middle storefront bay was enclosed and covers the majority of the front façade and the entire west elevation. Amazingly, the original storefront opening along with most of its original divided light transom are still visible on the building’s interior, providing a clear guide for the restoration of this historic feature. The original smooth stucco coat is evident under it in areas where the last coat has cracked and delaminated. While not apparent on the front façade, there are arched opening evident on the building’s interior and rear elevation. Again, possibly salvaged from the previous 19th century residence that was on the site through at least a portion of 1925 or in keeping with the mission inspired architectural style. Both side elevations are void of windows, which is typical of commercial structures built with zero setbacks that anticipated adjacent construction to share a party wall or block street visibility of the side walls. The 1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps that were updated through 1928, document that within two years of construction an abutting two-story garage structure built to hold 70 cars was built on the west side of the 618 West Adams Street. A historic photograph of the block attributed the 1950s documents the building when it was still surrounded by similar designs. As further documented by early Sanborn maps of the site, ghost markings on the east side elevation indicate where a staircase existed between the subject structure and an adjacent two-story store building located next door at 624 West Adams Street.

G. Its suitability for preservation or restoration.

In utilizing this criterion, it has been the practice of the Planning and Development Department to evaluate proposed landmarks based on evidence of significant exterior alterations that have negatively impacted character-defining features, as well as alterations difficult, costly, or impossible to reverse these changes. Further, the degree and nature of any exterior deterioration, as well as evidence of any long term or potentially on-going neglect are also a factor in evaluating potential landmarks for their suitability for preservation or restoration.

As outlined under Criterion F, much of the original design remains evident either on the exterior or interior. The historic storefront is partially intact behind the stucco enclosure and the historic smooth stucco is evident behind the more recent topcoat. The windows of the front façade have been previously replaced with contemporary 6/6 vinyl sash-style window units with sandwiched muntins, but these do not appear to be well installed and could easily be replaced with a more compatible design. The most significant character-defining feature of the primary elevation fronting West Adams Street is the simple Mission style parapet, which should at a minimum be preserved along with the other existing openings of the front facade. Based on these conditions, the exterior would be relatively easy to restore or maintain the historic architectural integrity of the structure.

The interior layout of both floors is mostly an open plan with concrete with some remnant square tiles on the first floor and wood floors on the second. The floor joists run east to west connecting at metal beams running down the middle of the building for the length of the structure supported by simple wood posts of inconsequential design. The staircase along the west interior wall is surprisingly in good shape but is not of a significant design. The elevator shaft/equipment would be an interesting feature to preserve but is located deep into the space and would not have been part of the public experience of the interior. All the interior walls are exposed brick, which is frequently a desired finish that is not always appropriate to leave exposed in reuse projects under the applicable Secretary of the Interior’s Rehabilitation Standards, but which may actually have been the original material for this site given the repair shop use. Based on these findings, it is the Planning and Development Departments determination that the interior floor plan has a great deal of flexibility due to the lack of significant features so long as a large portion of the first floor is left open in keeping with the historic open space of the original garage work space/ waiting area.

In 2002, the building was inspected by Adams and Associates to identify any readily visible defects and offer suggestions on potential remodeling. The findings include a statement that “the building was originally constructed with good quality materials and good workmanship.” And that the “repairs and upkeep, overall have been fair.” The roof was noted at that point as being in poor condition and in need of replacement. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this work happened. Aerial views of the building document the roof was still holding up in some capacity until sometime in 2022. From the location and debris where the roof and second floor has collapsed, it appears some rooftop feature was installed without proper flashing or thereby added weight to an already compromised roof system. Years of additional water exposure has finally had its toll. However, like many of Jacksonville’s historic adaptive use projects, the architectural plans for the most recent reuse concept would likely have called for the structural support system of the building to be replaced or severely reinforced to support the new layout plan and rooftop access. While some masonry cracks exist and would need to be repaired, the overall condition of the four exterior walls appear to be reasonably straight with no bowing or severe dislodging of the brick, thereby enabling if nothing else, the retention of all or the main portions of the structure to preserve the historic building’s defining exterior elements and its historic context within the block.

While there is a portion of the building’s roof and second floor that have recently been severely compromised, based on these outlined finding, the building was found to meet this criteria at this time. However, this is not a situation where a prolonged rehabilitation plan can happen without additional steps to stabilize the structure. The existing roof condition that is allowing water into the building further jeopardizes the structural integrity. The last two years in which the project by the current owner has stalled has led to additional damage that needs to be addressed in a timely manner to avoid further damage and safety concerns.

While the landmark designation recognizes the buildings significance and provides a layer of protection to the site, it does not outright prevent demolition. Rather it provides criteria for reviewing a demolition request or any other exterior changes through the COA review process. Section 307.113 of the Jacksonville Ordinance Code, a certificate of appropriateness is not required prior to commencing demolition or abatement actions concerning any extreme and imminent public safety hazard, as provided for under an order for emergency abatement issued by the Chief of the Municipal Code Compliance Division or Chief of the Building Inspection Division.

Source: The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission 08-24-22 Meeting Agenda Packet