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Urban Parks: Confederate Park

Separating Springfield from Downtown, this nine acre park was once the epicenter of Jacksonville's cultural scene.

Published April 20, 2009 in Neighborhoods      35 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Confederate Park History

Confederate Park is located near downtown, in the Springfield area of north Jacksonville. First named Dignan Park, for a chairman of the Board of Public Works, it opened in 1907 and contained the City’s first supervised playground. The United Confederate Veterans chose Jacksonville as the site for their annual reunion in 1914, and the park as the site for a monument honoring the Women of the Southland. Five months after the reunion of an estimated 8,000 former Confederate soldiers, the City renamed the park, and the monument was erected the next year. During the early decades, citizens came from all over Jacksonville to attend cultural events at the park or to see the beautiful Rose Arbor. Visitors strolled along the lovely Hogans Creek Promenade that opened in 1930, and in more recent years attend events sponsored by the Springfield Improvement Association & Woman’s Club.


Historic Images and Postcards of Confederate Park


Confederate Park Today

The Monument to Women of the Confederacy was completed in 1915.  It was commissioned by the Florida Division-United Confederate Veterans "in memory of the women of the Southland."

This 1930 memorial to poet Robert Burns, is located near the corner of Main and Phelps Streets.




Confederate Playground

Confederate Playground is located just east of Confederate Park.  Originally a part of Confederate Park, this area was used by the nearby Armory for drill grounds and tent/nut encampments during both World Wars.  The playground was permanently established as a separate facility during the 1950s. Today, it has been converted into a dog park for the pets of urban core residents.

Images by Ennis Davis



April 20, 2009, 10:34:26 AM
Great article! I love this park since I work so close to it.
I wonder if there's any way we can get the waterway rails repainted to their former glory? I'd love to be part of the volunteer crew on that project.


April 20, 2009, 11:25:43 AM
I was there yesterday. a couple things:

1) why isn't this park as nicely kept as Memorial Park? Do all parks get the same amount of money for upkeep?

2) a fence, similar to the one in Rivrseide Park, around the pond would be great. it would keep large trash from being blown in to the pond and make it look nicer.


April 20, 2009, 03:44:28 PM
fsu813, the Springfield Woman's Club has tried for years to get the City to fence in the pond.  It's a safety hazard as well as an eyesore.  So far the requests have fallen on deaf ears, but don't fret - our ladies can be pretty persistent. ::)

The WC also renovated and restored the Woman of the South and Robert Burns statues last year - they were overgrown and needed cleaning and repairs.  Unfortunately, City funds don't seem to trickle down to this lovely park.


April 20, 2009, 04:14:37 PM
What are the buildings next to the canal with the boarded up windows? I'll bet that was a beautiful place at one time.

I've always liked this park and thought that demolishing some of the derelict buildings adjacent to the park and providing more parking and park amenities would make a nice feature for an in-town park.


April 20, 2009, 06:30:53 PM
Interesting... Photo #6 from the top of the page, "Birds Eye View" in black and white shows a completely different Hogans Creek from the one we all know. A careful look would seem to put the little sailing skiff at 15-20 feet (is that a day cabin?). Also note the berm on the North Side of the creek, is the creek level higher then the duck pond? Where did the berm come from? Looks pretty wide and when the bridge rail-wall went up the berm vanished. Go back to those photos of Camp Milton... This "Confederate Park" might well be built directly in the field of fire from the Federal earthworks that were built to to protect them from the Confederates! Wonder if there are any other photos of Hogans Creek? Boats on the creek? Earthworks?
We might have something more historical then we ever dreamed.



April 20, 2009, 08:19:21 PM
The building with the boarded-up windows is the old EH Thompson supply company at Main & Orange -  formerly a car dealership (Nimnicht Cadillac I think?) .  It's really cool inside...lots of original tile work.  The ramps where they used to drive the cars from the first floor into the showroom are still there too.  I know there have been a zillion ideas on how to repurpose this building but so far it just sits there looking sad.


April 21, 2009, 12:15:14 AM
The building with the boarded-up windows is the old EH Thompson supply company at Main & Orange -  formerly a car dealership (Nimnicht Cadillac I think?) .  It's really cool inside...lots of original tile work.  The ramps where they used to drive the cars from the first floor into the showroom are still there too.  I know there have been a zillion ideas on how to repurpose this building but so far it just sits there looking sad.

This was actually the Claude Nolan Cadillac dealership now on Southside Blvd.  It should match up to this unless it was redone somewhere along the way:

From Florida State Archives at:[Claude%20Nolan%20cadillac%20dealership%20:%20Jacksonville,%20Florida]%20[graphic]&IMGTITLE=RC17942


April 21, 2009, 12:21:43 AM
That's where my dad bought his cars! Cool, Claude Nolan? The 59 with the tail fins was great, dad had a white one always driven with a black trilby hat, his best friend bought a black one always driven with a black trilby hat! NO JOKE! The made a sport out of "who could bribe the wait staff the most to get the weekly Sunday afternoon lunch tab..." What a couple of nuts.



April 21, 2009, 12:39:57 AM
According to their web site, Claude Nolan Cadillac was founded in 1905.  That makes it older than the park next door.

Found this tidbit on the internet.  See if you remember driving this family car discussed below and displayed at the Concours d'Elegance at Amelia Island celebrating 100 years of General Motors  ;) :

Cadillac Automobile Company originally shipped this car to Mr. Claude Nolan who was a Jacksonville Cadillac distributor for most of Florida, parts of Georgia and as far north as Charleston, SC. It was sold to O.P. Woodcock, a prominent builder, and was later reacquired by the Claude Nolan dealership.

The WideTrack designation is the result of the destination of the vehicle. If the car was to be sold in rural areas at the time, the Widetrack version was provided to enhance stability on non-paved roads.

Except for a repaint to red, the car remains in original condition until restored in 2001/2002. As shown, the car is finished as originally delivered with the same colors, pin striping, leather, and equipment.

Claude Nolan Cadillac, Inc., remains in the family and is one of the oldest continuous Cadillac dealerships in the nation.



April 21, 2009, 12:52:41 AM
Found this article in the Times Union from 2005 recapping the 100 years of Claude Nolan.  Apparently this building was built in 1910 and designed by Klutho. Below is part of the article and the full article can be found at:

Claude Nolan Cadillac celebrates 100th anniversary

By Cari Boyce
Special to the Times-Union

The year was 1905. The world's first theater exclusively for motion pictures opened in Pittsburgh; Las Vegas was founded; and an automobile exceeded 100 miles per hour for the very first time.

It was the same year that Claude Nolan became a Cadillac Motor Car agent in Jacksonville.

The rest is history ... and a very successful one for the Southside dealership.

The dealership's legacy actually goes back more than 100 years.

Born in Sanford in 1883, Nolan moved to Jacksonville as a child. He graduated from Duval High School and later, Vanderbilt University. In 1905, law degree in hand, he returned to Jacksonville, where his father, George Nolan, served as mayor from1903 until his death in 1906.

Nolan opened his Cadillac Motor Car dealership in a small building on East Church Street and became part of an industry that would grow to be a driving force in the nation's economy. The Florida land boom was beginning to gather momentum and within a few years, the enterprise expanded to occupy a grand, three-story dealership on Main Street.

This building, built by Nolan in 1910, was designed by Henry J. Klutho, a prominent and prolific Jacksonville architect in the decades following the Great Fire of 1901. This much-admired building continued to serve as the Cadillac dealership's home until 1985 when a new facility was completed on Southside Boulevard.

Nolan was a member of the original Cadillac "Old Guard.'' He distributed all Cadillac products east of Apalachicola, and in about 20 counties in South Georgia. After World War II, his territory was the largest single distributorship of Cadillac motor cars.

It seemed that everything Nolan touched turned to gold. Even Nolan's Cadillac dealership on the then-new Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, called "Nolan's Folly''when it was established, prospered. In the years following World War II, it became one of the largest Cadillac dealerships in the nation.

Along the way, Nolan acquired Pontiac franchises in Miami and Jacksonville and operated a number of automotive trade businesses in Florida and Georgia dealing in Steward Warner, Alemite, Duco, Philco and other products.

Claude Nolan never married, but he looked after his sister, Lila Nolan Peterson, and her daughter, Claudia, after the death of Lila's husband. In time, Claudia married Connor Brown who joined the family business in 1938. Nolan died in 1943 and was succeeded by Brown as distributor.

The company continued to operate as Claude Nolan Inc.

By war's end, Brown had established Connor Brown Cadillac in Fort Lauderdale, built a branch of Nolan-Brown Motors on Bay Harbour Island in Miami Beach and relinquished the Trail Pontiac franchise in Miami.

In 1965, Connor Brown was the largest Cadillac distributor in the Florida territory. That year, Cadillac terminated all of its distributor agreements, leaving Connor Brown as the Cadillac dealer in Jacksonville, Miami, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

It was also the same year that Jack Helmick, joined the company. He would eventually became president of the company in 1976 after the death of his father-in-law, Connor Brown.

Helmick, a graduate of Auburn University and of the University of Florida College of Law, served as a reconnaissance pilot in the Navy before joining the company in 1965 to assist Brown. Helmick later acquired the Claude Nolan franchise location in Jacksonville and started Claude Nolan Cadillac Inc.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the company experienced many changes. Brown and George Williamson opened George Williamson Cadillac in South Miami. Williamson later bought Brown's interest in the dealership.

Claude Nolan Inc. relinquished its Pontiac franchise in Jacksonville in order to concentrate on the growing Cadillac market and dealerships in Miami and Miami Beach were sold. When Connor Brown died in 1976, his wife, Claudia Nolan Brown, took over operation of Connor Brown Cadillac until 1979 when she sold the company.

As president of Claude Nolan Cadillac Inc., Helmick has continued the tradition of growth established by his predecessors. In fall 1985, the dealership relocated to its new facility at 4700 Southside Blvd. in the Quality Circle Auto Park.....

1961 Cadillac Convertible:


April 21, 2009, 01:15:02 AM
Yes, its a Klutho building.  It had a pretty nice facade until it was mutilated with the stucco front it has today.


April 21, 2009, 11:36:06 PM
A beautiful park.  about 10 years ago I was taking my wife downtown for the first time ever.  Down 17, we started to roll pass the park and she was amazed, park looked gorgeous. then of course then 20 homeboys with there 20oz in the brown bags broke into view leaning against one of the rails of the park, and she said  ahhhhh okay.


April 22, 2009, 06:46:50 AM
^That's a scene that has changed.  The only homeboys hanging out there now are geese.


April 22, 2009, 08:59:33 AM
^That's a scene that has changed.  The only homeboys hanging out there now are geese.

Thats good to hear, glad they have got it cleaned up.  Did appear that way in the pictures, more people using it.


April 22, 2009, 10:15:27 AM
Still have the guys "holding down the corners" at night sometimes. Recently though there has been a drop-off in that too.


April 22, 2009, 10:43:53 AM
Claude Nolan - of course, I knew Nimnicht didn't sound right.  Double-duh on me since one of the original owners of my house worked there in the '20's & '30's.

So in its original state it is very similar to the building across the street which has been preserved.


April 22, 2009, 10:57:47 AM
So does anyone know if all city parks get the same budget for maitenence and clean up ? or is it based on the size of the park ?



April 22, 2009, 11:14:12 AM
So does anyone know if all city parks get the same budget for maitenence and clean up ? or is it based on the size of the park ?

I can try to find out for you - I have 1 contact in Parks/Rec


April 22, 2009, 11:28:16 AM
^That's a scene that has changed.  The only homeboys hanging out there now are geese.

yeah...but the geese may be more intimidating...those things are huge!


April 22, 2009, 03:56:51 PM
i'd be very interested in how any money allocated to the park is spent. they have a park security guard there duting the days, something most other parks don't have. i wonder if that eats up funds that would otherwise be spent elsewhere.


April 22, 2009, 04:52:11 PM
Personally, I'm glad there's security there and wouldn't want to see that stopped

chris farley

October 28, 2009, 07:16:50 PM
The entrance to the park shown in a photo above shows 1907 - it is that year since prior to that it was a swamp and Cypruss ponds.  The following from the the TU in 1906

Twelve two-horse teams are at work in hauling sand to the new
park site, and each wagon averages ten yards of sand each day, making
the amount of sand placed on the park site daily, about one hundred
and twenty yards.
Besides this the city carts are busily engaged in hauling clean
dry garbage to the park site which is dumped in the marsh. The
sand teams then come along and cover this with clean white sand.
The amount of dry garbage hauled to the site daily averages ninety
Five weeks ago teams started to dump garbage and sand just east
of Market Street where the marsh was very deep. This work has
progressed very rapidly and the new site presents a good sanitary
The park site has been filled in from Main Street to a point halfway
through the block east of Market Street, and within a few weeks
there will be a clean hard strip of good hard ground between Main
and Liberty Streets, which only a few months ago was only a swamp
and unfit for any purpose whatever for the general public


October 28, 2009, 11:40:38 PM
^Nice find, Chris.  Thanks for posting it.


May 24, 2010, 10:54:00 AM
Sorry to bump an old thread, but my wife and I visited this park yesterday. The grounds were fairly clean (it's interesting, the creative places people find to stash garbage) but Hogans Creek was absolutely disgusting. It was completely choked with trash to the point where the water could barely be seen.

I found a TU article ( that mentions the creek becoming a potential Superfund site, and for that reason the city doesn't want to spend any money on it.

Is there any restrictions on volunteers getting some of the trash out of the creek? I know it's still a contaminated body of water, and getting the trash out might not do much real good, but it would at least visually improve the park (and maybe make me feel a little better).

Captain Zissou

May 24, 2010, 12:25:48 PM
^ I would love to help clean the creek.  Is it safe?? 


May 24, 2010, 12:41:01 PM
I wouldnt go swimming in it!


May 24, 2010, 02:38:41 PM
I don't even know how you'd go about cleaning the creek of all the junk that's in there. My only thought was to skim the surface with a glorified pool skimmer and get the bigger stuff out. I certainly wouldn't wade around in there unless I had some serious boots. Anyone have any ideas?

It's sad because the park looks like it really only needs a couple dedicated maintenance men spending a couple days a week on it picking up trash, edging, etc. If you spent a few days giving it a serious cleaning, maintaining it wouldn't take too much effort (or expense). This park goes back a hundred years and it should really be treated as more of a big deal than it is.


May 24, 2010, 03:25:52 PM
I believe the city has grapple trucks which could be used to pull out all of the shopping carts.


May 24, 2010, 03:36:13 PM
Park clean up days are definitely a good idea.  The hazard's probably no worse than our front yards :)


May 24, 2010, 05:26:49 PM
I was there yesterday and it seems that the city did take all of the Muscovy ducks.  :-\ I only saw two, and the place seemed empty. I'd like to know what they did with them...anyone know?


May 24, 2010, 05:34:58 PM
I'm putting a pond in my back yard I would have taken a few of them. Any chance we could get some bottle brush trees planted out there?

Miss Fixit

May 24, 2010, 09:20:49 PM
Looks like there will be a clean up day at the Park the first Saturday in June - may be on the Klutho end rather than Confederate - I'll keep everyone posted.


May 25, 2010, 08:53:45 AM
Please do keep us posted. I'd love to be involved.


May 25, 2010, 10:20:38 AM
Still have the guys "holding down the corners" at night sometimes. Recently though there has been a drop-off in that too.

There also been a drop off the drag queen prostitution up there as well. Years ago it was nothing to see them lined the side walk up there. Ive noticed here lately that they must have relocated.

Miss Fixit

May 26, 2010, 07:48:40 AM
The June block captain's cleanup will be Hogan's Creek in Klutho park, June 5th at 10 am.

We'll be working in (yes, in) the creek itself and on the balustrades as well as portions of the park.  Should coincide nicely with the upcoming CSX sponsored tree planting project.

Please come help out and bring waders if you have them!
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