Article by Ennis Davis, AICP
Riverside Avenue is home to one of the largest concentrated collections of Prairie School residences outside of the Midwest. Originating in Chicago, Prairie School was attempt in creating an indigenous North American style of architecture related to the ideas and aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. Characterized by horizontal lines, windows grouped in horizontal bands, and flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, the architectural style came to Jacksonville when young architects influenced by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, moved to the city to help rebuild after the Great Fire of 1901. Largely constructed throughout Riverside during the second decade of the 20th century, here are a few examples of Prairie School style residences on Riverside Avenue.
Built in 1916, the San Juline Apartments at 1617-1637 Riverside Avenue were designed by Roy A. Benjamin. Overlooking Memorial Park, according to Dr. Wayne Wood, this building was Benjamin’s only significant attempt at a Prairie School design.
2761 Riverside Avenue is a 3,372 square foot residence completed in 1917. This residence was initially occupied by Samuel and Margaret Mathias. Samuel was a general manager for the Cummer Lumber Company.
2805 Riverside Avenue is one of three houses on Riverside Avenue designed by Ransom Buffalow. Built for wholesale grocer C.W. Zaring, the residence was completed in 1917. During the early 1920s, it was purchased by Jacob E. Cohen, the president of Cohen’s Department Store (present day city hall).
2810 Riverside Avenue is a 3,024 square foot residence completed in 1918. This was the residence of Mrs. Mary E. Clark in 1920.
2821 Riverside Avenue was built in 1913 for real estate developer Lucius T. Smith. Built by contractor N.L. Snelson, the house once served as an osteopathic hospital.
2905 Riverside Avenue is a 3,004 square foot house that was completed in 1913. It was once occupied by Robert and Bessie Keely. Keely was involved in real estate.
2911 Riverside Avenue was designed by R. Lee Sevil. It was built for Clementine Porter, following the death of her husband, Thomas V. Porter.
2953 Riverside Avenue was built for Arthur B. Chitty in 1918. Chitty was the owner of Chitty & Company Wholesale Grocers. The property also includes an apartment that was designed for their maid and her husband, who served as their chauffeur and yardman.