The Underappreciated Side of Springfield

November 6, 2009 49 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Springfield Historic District is well known for its diverse mix of single family residential structures. However, it can be argued that the mix of non single family building fabric gives the district its true unique charm.

Southeast Quadrant

Fire Station #2, at 4th & Main, has been in continuous operation since 1909.

The Mattie V. Rutherford Middle School Alternative Education Center was originally known as Springfield Elementary School and was one of the first schools in the neighborhood.  A fixture on the corner of 5th & Hubbard since 1917, the school is named after Mattie V. Rutherford, who served as the Principal for 34 years.

A significant portion of Springfield's residential building stock was originally designed as multifamily structures to cater to the area's rapid population growth after the Great Fire of 1901.  If you look hard enough, several examples still remain in pretty solid condition.

The Lauderdale Apartments have graced the corner of 2nd and Market Streets since 1912.

These three massive apartment buildings, at 1623 Liberty Street, were completed in 1931.

Walnut Street

Walnut Street was once a streetcar corridor. Here, early forms of transit oriented development are present in the form of commercial buildings three blocks away from the Main Street corridor.

Northeast Quadrant

Standing at 8th & Market, the Halsema Building was constructed for Julien C. Halsema in 1911.

This building once housed the Duval Laundry Company.  Duval Laundry was incorporated by Richard P. McFarlin on Monday, February 17, 1902.  Like many industrial buildings in the neighborhood, the building's brick detailing and window patterns give it a unique feel in a city characterized by stucco, metal buildings and tilt wall construction.

Kirby-Smith Middle School is one of the few Mediterranean Revival style buildings in Springfield.  Identical to John Gorrie, in Riverside, the school opened in 1924. The school is named after a Civil War Confederate officer from St. Augustine.

One of Jacksonville's most unique adaptive reuse projects, 1951 Market Lofts was once Corinne Scott Elementary School.  The school served Springfield from 1924 to 1991.

Vanderleigh Antiques, located on East 10th St, is a great example of a warehouse live/work adaptive reuse.

Northeast Quadrant: Springfield Warehouse District

Springfield is home to one of Jacksonville's most compact historic industrial districts.  Centered along the S-Line, if JTA gets their commuter rail plans off the ground, they could be the catalyst for transforming this district into a place dominated by lofts, art galleries, cultural and entertainment uses commonly seen in more progressive communities.

The former Coca-Cola bottling plant at 14th & Market awaiting a new use.

This building went without a roof for over a decade before being converted into lofts a year ago.

During the warehouse district's heyday, the area was home to the Dorsey Company Bakery and a Merita Bread bakery. With a large number of baking industry workers in Springfield, this building was constructed at 11th & Liberty to house a bakery union.

A close up look at the wall of the Tison-Demar Woodworks.  Tison-Demar manufactures custom built cabinets in the heart of the warehouse district at 14th & Market.

Now a part of Kirby-Smith Middle School, this structure was originally built in 1914, as the Dorsey Company Bakery.  In 1926, it was one of the largest bakeries in the Southeast, the home of Florida's only traveling oven and produced over 100,000 loaves of bread a day.  It was said to be one of Jacksonville's most handsome industrial buildings.

This warehouse was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn in 1929.  It was built for the Chevrolet Motor Company and used as a district office and parts warehouse from 1929 to 1958.

Old rail sidings between the back of warehouses are common in the warehouse district.  These linear corridors represent a future opportunity for linear parks or pedestrian promenades that connect various properties.  The potential for concepts like this to become reality can not happen in most of Jacksonville because the history and built environment that facilitates these concepts simply don't exist.

Northwest Quadrant

The Beulah Beal Elementary School opened in 1911.  The West Riverside Elementary School was constructed at the same time with identical plans.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church was completed in 1912 at 1918 North Laura Street.

Completed in 1923, the Old Holy Rosary Catholic Church is one of the last remaining examples of Romanesque Revival style architecture in Jacksonville.

Located at 2212 Pearl Street, the K&G Box Company produces packaging boxes for the medical, electronics, automotive, publishing, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and food industries.  The company operates as a subsidiary of Atlanta's Stronghaven, Inc.

Many make the mistake of thinking about the historic district in terms of only single family housing.  However, throughout Springfield, there are several residential streets like W. 11th Street that are also dominated by historic multi-family housing.  The dense presence of multifamily uses are a key ingrediant in Springfield being a walkable urban community.

Shands Jacksonville

Shands Jacksonville serves as an economic anchor for the community.

Shands Jacksonville was created in 1999 when Gainesville, Fla.-based Shands HealthCare purchased two adjacent medical facilities in Jacksonville - University Medical Center and Methodist Medical Center.

The lineage of the hospital can be traced back to 1870 when Jacksonville's first hospital and Florida's first non-military hospital, Duval Hospital and Asylum, was established at the corner of Jessie and Franklin Streets in downtown Jacksonville. The original tiny building was known as the "poor house."

1901 - George A. Brewster Hospital and School of Nurse Training, which later became Methodist Hospital, opened to care for victims of the Great Fire of 1901  

1926 - Duval Hospital and Asylum renamed to Duval County Hospital.

1948 - Duval County Hospital became Duval Medical Center (DMC), called the "nation's oldest publicly supported hospital"

1963 - Florida Legislature created the Duval County Hospital Authority to facilitate the construction of a new hospital and manage the DMC

1964 - Duval County medical and governmental leaders successfully lobbied for the passage of a $20 million dollar bond issue. Planning began for a new hospital to double the existing facility

1966 - Brewster Hospital and School of Nurse Training closed

1967 - Brewster Hospital moved to Jefferson and Eighth Street, the current location of Shands Jacksonville, and reopened as the not-for-profit Methodist Hospital

1971 - DMC moved to a new eight story, $27 million, 485-bed, state-of-the-art medical facility across the street from Methodist Hospital and changed its name to University Hospital

1982 - University Hospital became a private, not-for-profit facility and contracted with the city of Jacksonville to provide care for the uninsured

1983 - University Hospital opened the first Level I trauma center in Florida

1985 – University Hospital was designated an affiliate of the University of Florida. TraumaOne, their helicopter ambulance service, began operations

1988 – University Hospital was designated the Jacksonville campus for the UF Health Science Center

1989 – University Hospital was renamed University Medical Center (UMC)

1993 - Methodist Hospital was renamed Methodist Medical Center (MMC)

1999 - UMC and MMC were purchased by Shands HealthCare and merged to become Shands Jacksonville

2006 - The University of Florida opened the UF Proton Therapy Institute on the Shands Jacksonville campus

Southwest Quadrant

The Karpeles Manuscript Museum is the present use of a structure that was originally built for the First Church of Christ Scientist in 1921.

This Bethel Baptist Church sanctuary was built to replace what had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901. Once directly served by a streetcar line, Bethel is an important link between Springfield and Downtown.

Adjacent to Klutho Park, the old State Board of Health Building was completed in 1911.  Before the building was constructed, the land was known as Raspberry Park and used as a city jail.

8th & Main

For most of Springfield's existence, the intersection of 8th and Main has served as the historic district's central business district.

Photos by Ennis Davis and Daniel Herbin