JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Historical Society has identified 20 buildings as endangered in its annual list of Most Endangered Properties.
“Some [are endangered] by just neglect and the buildings are falling down, some because they’ve been purchased by a developer that might want to build something else on that site and demolish it and others just because they’re located in an awkward spot,” said Dr. Wayne Wood, an author and historian who sits on the Historical Society’s board of directors.
Wood said the goal of the list is to publicize the buildings in hopes someone sees it and wants to restore the structures.
“Someone out there is going to see one of these buildings and say ‘I can put that building to a good new reuse,’” Wood said.
Wood called the old Fire Station No. 5 on Riverside Avenue a prime example of Jacksonville’s endangered buildings. It has been abandoned for 10 years and Wood said because of that, its future is in question.
The brick building dates all the way back to 1910, the same year Jacksonville and the beach were first connected by a paved road.
“In 1910 you would have seen horse-drawn fire carriages,” Wood said. He added the doors to the station had to be rebuilt over the years to accommodate the larger fire trucks.
Wood said the building could be redeveloped into something like a restaurant or cultural center.
“Because it’s over 100 years old, it’s architecturally significant, we hope that this will be one of the buildings that can be saved for the future of Jacksonville,” Wood said.
From bricks to books, the Annie Lytle Public School is also on the 2017 list of endangered properties.
The school was built in 1918 and has been abandoned for 40 years.
“It’s too great of a building to tear it down and yet it’s in too sorry of shape to just leave it the way it is,” Wood said.
Just how old is the school? It was built before the first vehicular bridge over the St. Johns River, according to the Jacksonville Historical Society.
The Annie Lytle School has long been the subject of local preservation efforts, but its future is unclear.
“It was recently purchased in a tax sale,” Wood said. “We have no idea what the new owners are going to do with it.”
Proving age doesn’t define worth, the upscale Chart House restaurant on the Southbank was built in 1982 and is the newest of all buildings on the list.
But Wood said it’s one of the most endangered of all.
Wood said the work of famed architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg made it worthy of a spot on the endangered structures list.
“The building seems to grow up out of the ground, almost like a few volcanoes about to explode,” he said. “And its swirling geometry makes it unique in the way it’s constructed.”
Wood said the Chart House was part of a six-acre purchase by a South Florida developer, and that’s why it’s in danger.
“The fact that it’s on such a prime piece of riverfront property with the potential to develop high rises on it, we want to make sure out front that the developers know this is one of our most significant landmarks,” Wood said.
Wood was hoping someone would come along to invest the time and money to give the buildings new life.
He pointed to buildings on the list in past years as evidence of success.
"Like the Florida Theater, the old Union Terminal train station, even our city hall, the St James building, were originally on this list,” he said.
Until then, he’s soaking in the Jacksonville history before it disappears.
“Jacksonville’s history is turning into dust right before our eyes,” he said.
Click here to see the full list of endangered buildings.
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