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Lost Jacksonville: The Theater District

"It's not anything we need to get too upset about or cry over. It's just a function of the marketplace. If there's no demand for it, it won't survive. It's the same everywhere." -Jim Gilmore, executive director of the Jacksonville Downtown Development Authority, regarding the closing of the Center Theater - 1/06/83

Published September 1, 2009 in History      47 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

During the first half of the 20th Century, Forsyth Street developed into Jacksonville's version of Manhattan's "Great White Way".  Today, the Florida Theater is all that remains of a district that once had as many as twelve theaters within a compact walking distance.

 

Jacksonville's Great White Way

About fifty years ago, Jax residents made tracks to busy downtown department stores.  For amusement, moreover, white residents frequented the downtown movie theaters along "The Great White Way," nicknamed in honor of New York City's show district.  This Jacksonville entertainment area was a brightly-lit portion of Forsyth Street between Main and Newnan streets.  (African Americans enjoyed the theaters and night spots that operated in the vicinity of "The Great Black Way," that is, Ashley Street in La Villa.)

Except for the Florida Theater, the downtown area has lost its cinemas and department stores, for they eventually went out of business or moved to suburban malls.

http://jaxhistory.com


 

The Windle Hotel was located next to the Lynch Building (11 East) and old city hall. During its era, Forsyth was the home to a large theater district and known as “The Great White Way”. In the mid 20th century, the Windle and old city hall were demolished and replaced by Taylor Hardwick’s modern Haydon Burns Library.
 


Image by The Florida Times-Union, page 402 of Jacksonville Family Album.

The often-crowded Stathis Restaurant, the Seminole Hotel, and the Roseland dance emporium were hallmarks of a lively Forsyth Street in 1928.

 


Images on page 196 and 197 of Jacksonville Family Album.

Crowds pack Forsyth Street in 1956 for the showing of The Lone Ranger at the St. Johns Theatre.  Today, the theatre site is occupied by the Jacksonville Bank Building and former Gold's Gym location.



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47 Comments

aaapolito

September 01, 2009, 06:20:30 AM
Such a shame to lose all of those buildings.

Lucasjj

September 01, 2009, 07:45:29 AM
It must make it easier to compose these stories, that at the end of every picture the caption says the same thing...

"Demolished (Insert Year) for a parking garage."

Bativac

September 01, 2009, 08:36:51 AM
Jacksonville seems to have had a strong commitment to the idea of parking garages over the years.

buckethead

September 01, 2009, 08:41:39 AM
At least we have ample downtown parking.

"Welcome to Downtown Jacksonville. Enjoy the parking lots!"

Doctor_K

September 01, 2009, 08:53:54 AM
Absolutely, positively infuriating and depressing.  The short-sightedness of the civic leaders who presided over all of this destruction did nothing but inspire a new generation of short-sighted civic leaders.  Y'know, the ones who are elected by a naive, misinformed electorate.

Maddening.  Such a loss.

DavidWilliams

September 01, 2009, 09:12:15 AM
Sad indeed

copperfiend

September 01, 2009, 09:17:26 AM
This continues today. The city leadership has lacked vision for a long, long time.

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 09:23:41 AM
As in the case of the Prime Osborn Convention Center, the number of volunteers who flocked in to help with the Florida Theater was amazing and heartwarming.

These structures did not have to die, and the people of Jacksonville mourned them as they came down.

I was the last real occupant of the Arcade/Center theater.  It was owned by an absentee landlord who lived in New York.   He refused to put a dime into the building, which he bought at tax sale, despite the considerable fortune that he had amassed, first as a lawyer then as a judge.

The original elements of the building were all intact, from the nearly priceless Tiffany demi Globes that lit the ceiling, to the red silk brocade of the original wall coverings.

The bathrooms were inspirational, as they were done in original italian marble and had sculpted fountains in both of them.

I had my first magazine there in 1986-1987.  Brian Leisegang of Filter (and the other half of Nine Inch Nails) and the unspeakably annoying future publisher of Movement Magazine, Max Michaels lived with me briefly at the building.

Kema De Sagrada, the noted librarian at the Main Branch, Bill Cowan the owner of Big Shiny Shoes (the first new shop in the Five Points renovations) and many others all worked there at some point or another.

Downtown was still a city then, and the streets were literally full of people the entire day.   Hemming Park had been fatally wounded by the Gilmore era renovations, but the Landing was in the final phases of Construction so no one realized that the retail was on its way out forever.

The foundations for its destruction had already been laid.

The owner of the Carling was in the process of getting screwed over by the city over similar water connection issues faced by Cameron Kuhn, the parking division was getting revved up, and absentee landlords were beginning to be more common.

The old guys like Joe LaRose and the Cohen family, and Bernie Etlinger and so many long time downtowners were pessimistic.  But they wouldnt lower their rents when the vacancies happened.

The real estate agent who leased the Center/Arcade Theater was an interesting woman  by the name of Gerri Jones.  She'd made a name for herself by being a female pilot who showed her prospective clients properties from the air.

After we left the Arcade, she leased part of my space to Eddie Cotton and Pretty Boy Freud.   They used my old production room as their band practice space.

After that, she sickened and died with cancers of the breast and brain.

And after that, no one looked after the Arcade again.

It 'fell' just as the city wanted to tear the building down for a parking lot, the victim of powdery bricks and neglect.

Deuce

September 01, 2009, 09:26:24 AM
Quote
"Demolished (Insert Year) for a parking garage."

Took the words right out of my mouth!

Here's a revised promotional slogan for JAX:
Quote
Jacksonville, where Florida's parking garages begin!

It's truly unfortunate that underground parking garages are difficult to build here. I think that hurts all the major metropolitan areas of Florida.

EvenStillLeader

September 01, 2009, 10:31:05 AM
These are a few of my favorite things. I can't it take it anymore.

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 11:49:54 AM
From Facebook:
Julia Long Painter
Such fond memories of the office in the Center Theatre building! Walking down to Hemming Plaza to have lunch at Woolworths...walking through the fountain in the Landing Courtyard before the Landing was actually opened because it was the middle of summer and the air conditioning wasn't working...celebrating my 18th birthday with a barbecue on the balcony atop the marquee. Such fun!

Sam Fisher
what has happened to Jacksonville? Are the Jags just so great that people don't want to go to the theater anymore? It amazes me that in less than 50 years so many theaters have come and gone - both those making new theater and those making old. Is there just not enough of a theater audience in Jacksonville anymore? Is it too expensive? Or do people just not care about getting off the couch?

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 12:06:51 PM
Quote
Due to a heavy dose of shortsightedness, like many of the urban elements that made downtown a vibrant place a century ago, our theatre district no longer exists.  However, it was another example of complementing uses clustering together in a way that reinforced walkability and stimulated pedestrian scale vibrancy.

As the city attempts to revitalize downtown, connectivity, historic preservation and compact clustering of complementing uses should become top priorities.

Ennis Davis

One of the best passages in the article.

mtraininjax

September 01, 2009, 12:17:15 PM
What's all this crying over the past? Its over, gone and done. Be thankful that the Florida Theatre is here, use it, explore it, enjoy it. Same with the 5 points and San Marco theatres.

We could lament over the loss of the old US Post Office on Adams, or the lack of a real post office anywhere since Mayor Peyton shut down access to the old post office in the old Federal Building, but what's the point? Its over, done, and let's move on.

With all the empty lots downtown, whats to say that someone would not build a new theatre downtown as well? With droves of people moving into downtown, Riverside and Springfield, surely an entreprenuer on the board has the vision to open a new AMC Theatre downtown?

Where was all the fuss when the Kent Theatres were torn down for a Ham's or shopping malls at the beach and along US 17? Or Jones College taking over the Theatre at Edgewood and 17? At least the Murray Hill Theatre is still standing and functioning.

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 12:23:32 PM
Mtrain.  Are you serious?

1.  Its ok to 'cry about the past'.   It should be remembered. 

2.  Being progressively more ignorant about your own achievements is how places slip from greatness to nothingness.

3.  Being reminded that weve already done great things is a reminder that we can do them again.  We can stop with the bad decisions and the carelessness and the policies that destroy rather than create communities.

4.  Jacksonville has lost something over the decades.   It needs to be evoked again.  Remade and updated perhaps, but the critical sense of shared achievement and the atmosphere that makes it possible to become even greater should be re awakened.
     In many senses, architecture, quality, craftsmanship, vibrancy and cost effectiveness, we have gone backwards, not forward.   We replaced these things with convenience, speed and cheapness, and lost something better in the process.   
     Seeing them as they were reminds us of what we are missing.

mtraininjax

September 01, 2009, 12:31:06 PM
Quote
Its ok to 'cry about the past'.   It should be remembered.

And it IS remembered on the 3rd floor of the Main Library in the FLORIDA room. Anyone ever been there? There are numerous books written on the downtown as well as the famous Architectural History book of Jax.

Progress is the word to describe downtown. You can cry over what was (was there any reason to tear down the old Southern Bell building for the new courthouse -no), but what good does it do? Rhodes building be damned, we needed to put the new library where it went to provide urinals for the homeless.

You see only the crying over the theatres, but who really went to the Nickelodians in the last 10-20 years? Blame the automobile, blame Arlington and the Matthews Bridge, blame progress.

As for remembering them, I can read a book and remember just fine.

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 12:32:34 PM
Well thanks for establishing how special you are man!

You rock! 8)

You really don't get the point of all this 'planning' and 'vibrancy' thing do you?

If we have much more 'progress' like we have had downtown, we could advertise for the apollo program to fake their next moon landing on Forsythe street.

mtraininjax

September 01, 2009, 12:38:26 PM
Quote
If we have much more 'progress' like we have had downtown, we could advertise for the apollo program to fake their next moon landing on Forsythe street.

Good idea, but where is the bleeding heart over the Kent Theatres? Forget them?

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 12:42:23 PM
lol.  still don't really understand what its all about do you?

Thanks for your input though.  I bet you feel all kinds of empowered now, and actually I liked the Kents.  Very nice people.  He used to come out to my cafe in five points in the nineties.

See above post about critical mass.  A suburban movie theater is just a different animal.  You do know that these Theatres were live action, right?

Captain Zissou

September 01, 2009, 01:00:12 PM
Other than the convenience factor, nobody missed those theaters they destroyed for Hams and La Nop (which will cause everyone to forget the theaters ever existed).  Those were some of the dirtiest and most poorly run theaters in the city.

Stephen Dare is right, you really don't get it. I was getting choked up looking at the history that was destroyed.  At art walk tomorrow I'll look at all the parking garages and try to imagine what it would be like if they were still vibrant public destinations (don't have to be theaters still, could be stores restaurants, anything!)

Lunican

September 01, 2009, 01:37:14 PM
I have to commend Mtrain for epitomizing, in just a few short posts, the attitude and mindset that caused all of this wreckage in Jacksonville over the past 100 years.

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 02:04:36 PM
From Facebook:

Joshua Doll
What an appropriate subject, with yesterday's announcement of the closing of the Alhambra Dinner Theater. It's astounding that despite a population growth of over 1,000 percent in the last century, Greater Jacksonville can't even support a fraction of the cultural venues it had when it was little more than a frontier town. Jacksonville was too good for the film industry, it was too good for theme parks, and it didn't expect everything else worthwhile to be pushed away, too? It's a city without a niche, and it has successfully filtered out anyone who would rather not live in a cultural wasteland with no identity. I know that's harsh, but this is a cycle that continues beyond just a generation or two. You have to ask, "what kind of people are happy with this city, and what kind of people does it push away?"

stephendare

September 01, 2009, 02:05:54 PM
Courtney Roth-Hernandez
It's sad to see what downtown Jacksonville is like compared to the past, it was actually a bustling city. Now it's a gigantic strip mall.

avonjax

September 01, 2009, 02:29:46 PM
first, I went to many of thos theaters as a child and it was tragic to see them go, one by one.
The saddest thing of all is what replaced them.
and mtraininjax your constant "difference of opinion" apparently just to rouse us is a complete bore.

A quote from your post...."Good idea, but where is the bleeding heart over the Kent Theatres? Forget them?"
This is about downtown and if I recall the Kent Theatres were not torn down and turned into parking lots.

slyle

September 01, 2009, 04:19:08 PM
   I must say, I remember almost all of the theaters on Forsyth.  I remember going to the Palace for, I believe, Cinderella, the Imperial and the Empress for horror movies, the Arcade(or Center) for many movies although seeing Ben-Hur there stands out, the newer(relatively) St Johns theater  for the Lone Ranger (among others).  I am sure older Jacksonvillians remember the other theaters even before my baby boomer memories.  It is indeed a shame they are gone but more of a shame by what they were replaced with.....nothing (in all actuality)  Maybe the revival of the downtown will bring progress.  Let's hope so.

coredumped

September 01, 2009, 07:03:33 PM
Those Lone Ranger photos are great examples of the "Block Buster"

DavidWilliams

September 01, 2009, 07:16:27 PM
My parents tell me great stories of a vibrant downtown in the early 50's. It was the go to (and I guess only) location for movies as you can tell from the photos. My memories are a bit different. I grew up in the 70's-early 80's and it was becoming and became a craphole. I have worked downtown for the last 12 years and would love to see it return as a destination (after work). 

Coolyfett

September 01, 2009, 07:59:24 PM
If it make anyone feel better, Atlanta tore down many of their downtown theaters like Jacksonville did. Maybe it was white flight/US trend that was the cause. I don't think Jacksonville is the only place this happened.

deathstar

September 01, 2009, 08:37:46 PM
All you need to see is how vibrant and alive Downtown Jacksonville was, as opposed to today, to understand why they had it made back then.

DavidWilliams

September 01, 2009, 08:39:41 PM
If it make anyone feel better, Atlanta tore down many of their downtown theaters like Jacksonville did. Maybe it was white flight/US trend that was the cause. I don't think Jacksonville is the only place this happened.

It is the cycle of things I suppose. My last trip to downtown Atlanta (I stayed at the Hyatt on Peachtree which is core downtown) was about 4 years ago and their late night scene reminded me of Jax (pretty dead). We shot some pool and had a few drinks at a couple of establishments and all was good but there was NO bustling nightlife. They are in a state of suburbia as well I suppose.

heights unknown

September 01, 2009, 08:45:24 PM
I used to go to the Center Theatre as a Child (downtown); I wasn't allowed much to go outside of our neighborhood which was in LaVilla, so, I mostly attended the Ritz, Roosevelt, and the Strand Theatres which were totally black/African American.  The Center, when I attended as a Child, the blacks had to sit in the balcony, and the whites sat down below; blacks were not allowed down below.  But in the black Movie Theaters we could sit anywhere we wanted.  The Roosevelt did not have a balcony, the Ritz and Strand did if I remember correct.

We moved from Jax in 1968 and by the time I came back to Jacksonville in 1974, most all of the Movie Theaters downtown were gone for the exception of the Center and the Florida.  The Roosevelt and the Strand were gone also.

I rarely went to any Movie Theaters downtown because of the racist problem and my Mother did not allow me to go to any of the other Movie Theaters downtown; this was in the mid to late 60's.

Heights Unknown

stjr

September 01, 2009, 10:18:37 PM
Looking at the pix for this article, I would say Jax is a SMALLER city today than it was 50 or 60 years ago!  We may have more people in Duval County or the First Coast, but, in every other way we are SMALLER AND SMALL-MINDED.

This is why quality of life counts for more than population and growth bragging rights.  When will people here get it?

Downtown today looks like a back water compared to downtown of old.  And, don't think residents and visitors can't perceive the difference.  Want to fix our self image?  Get Downtown back to these glory days.  Historic and street friendly buildings with retail, restaurants, and entertainment at ground level, not parking garages, city and other government offices, empty lots, suburban style office buildings and unapproachable and detached edifices (e.g. new courthouse, Modis, CSX, and BBT buildings).

Doug San Diego

September 01, 2009, 10:59:43 PM
It is very sad to see all the historic fabric that has been lost. It is very important, in my opinion, that you bring these planning disasters, in their entirety, to the attention of the citizens and the powers that be so they can learn how and why your formerly vibrant downtown has been so damaged.

Your work is very important. Don't lose faith.

Your site came to my attention a year or so ago when I was researching a topic on San Diego, my hometown. You have some commentaries on San Diego which I read.

It is very interesting to read the comments of others about the place one calls home.

One thing San Diego has that I think might help Jacksonville are city recognized community planning groups elected by the citizens in each planning area. Projects for a said community are vetted by the citizens. A vote is held to recommend denial or approval. (These are projects that do not conform to the adopted community plan.) City planning liaison staff are available to provide information at the meetings which are held monthly in each planning area. If a project fails to pass muster, it is returned to the city to be re-worked. The city council can over ride, but I have not heard of this happening for many years. I believe there are approximately 54 planning groups in the city. They have been around for + or - 30 years.

stjr

September 01, 2009, 11:35:54 PM
One thing San Diego has that I think might help Jacksonville are city recognized community planning groups elected by the citizens in each planning area. Projects for a said community are vetted by the citizens. A vote is held to recommend denial or approval. (These are projects that do not conform to the adopted community plan.) City planning liaison staff are available to provide information at the meetings which are held monthly in each planning area. If a project fails to pass muster, it is returned to the city to be re-worked. The city council can over ride, but I have not heard of this happening for many years. I believe there are approximately 54 planning groups in the city. They have been around for + or - 30 years.

Doug San Diego, welcome to MetroJax (and Jacksonville!).  Hope you find us entertaining if not informative.  :)

The above is a great idea and should not only be considered in Jacksonville/Duval County, but throughout Florida and maybe the entire U.S.  I hope someone on this board with input into such an idea can run with it to the powers that be.

Look forward to more of your ideas from San Diego or elsewhere.

Ocklawaha

September 02, 2009, 01:00:37 AM
Gerry Rafferty, BAKER STREET LYRICS

Windin' your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day
You'll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold.
It's got so many people but it's got no soul
And it's taking you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it had everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you're tryin'
You're tryin' now
Another year and then you'll be happy
Just one more year and then you'll be happy
But you're cryin'
You're cryin' now


OCKLAWAHA

shanshan1218

September 02, 2009, 10:07:45 AM
It is simply amazing to me that most of those beautiful buildings are now home to "city owned surface parking lots", i.e. what is left of a foundation of a once amazing piece of architecture.
what a shame

JaxNative68

September 02, 2009, 04:07:18 PM
Sometimes this site has a way of making me really depressed.  Thanks to everyone who has participated in my emotional change today.

copperfiend

September 02, 2009, 04:14:29 PM
JaxNative68, I am right there with you. I have shown many things on this site to people and they say stuff like "that's what Jacksonville used to look like!". Depressing indeed.

stjr

September 02, 2009, 08:27:26 PM
One thing San Diego has that I think might help Jacksonville are city recognized community planning groups elected by the citizens in each planning area. Projects for a said community are vetted by the citizens. A vote is held to recommend denial or approval. (These are projects that do not conform to the adopted community plan.) City planning liaison staff are available to provide information at the meetings which are held monthly in each planning area. If a project fails to pass muster, it is returned to the city to be re-worked. The city council can over ride, but I have not heard of this happening for many years. I believe there are approximately 54 planning groups in the city. They have been around for + or - 30 years.

The above is a great idea and should not only be considered in Jacksonville/Duval County, but throughout Florida and maybe the entire U.S.  I hope someone on this board with input into such an idea can run with it to the powers that be.


San Diego's idea should be forwarded to the Charter Revision Committee under way.  Any volunteers?

grimss

September 02, 2009, 10:30:10 PM
I'm a big believer in the "echoic" effect of history, as so beautifully defined in Peter Ackroyd's master work, "London."  Essentially (as he explains it), the ground on which we tread is saturated with the footsteps, and character, and personalities of those who came before us--and, in surprising ways, those initial imprints still influence the personality of these sites, however altered, today.  Look at Riverside, where so much of the early, amazing structures were destroyed, and yet the character of what was then Jacksonville's most urban--and yet urbane and eclectic--neighborhood still bleeds through to today.  What was energetic and artistic and extravagant then is, on the same spot, still echoing today.

BTW, RAP has started a new http://www.riversideavondale.org/that sort of mimics this notion that "you can't appreciate where you live today without knowing where you're stepping," although it's not so inelegantly stated.

grimss

September 02, 2009, 10:32:02 PM
Okay, didn't get the link quite right. Meant to say the RAP has started a new series called Backyard Treasures that tries to get people to make historic connections to the places they see everyday.

finehoe

September 09, 2009, 05:21:35 PM
it has successfully filtered out anyone who would rather not live in a cultural wasteland with no identity

How very true.  I know that's why I left.

DavidWilliams

September 09, 2009, 09:57:13 PM
it has successfully filtered out anyone who would rather not live in a cultural wasteland with no identity

How very true.  I know that's why I left.


I wouldn't go that far. I don't think it is a cultural wasteland with no identity. There is quite a bit of culture if sought. Hope you are happy where you are currently.

stjr

September 09, 2009, 11:15:11 PM
it has successfully filtered out anyone who would rather not live in a cultural wasteland with no identity

How very true.  I know that's why I left.
I wouldn't go that far. I don't think it is a cultural wasteland with no identity. There is quite a bit of culture if sought. Hope you are happy where you are currently.

I take the term "cultural wasteland with no identity" as a relative term.

Compared to other cities that are the age of Jacksonville and that were blessed with far less quality and/or quantity of historic structures than us, yes, we have wiped a great deal of our "cultural identity" off the map.  Jax could have easily been a Charleston or Savannah or on par with the historic district of any city in the U.S.  But sadly, both quantitatively and qualitatively most of it has been destroyed.

The worst part, we continue to destroy what little history is left with no outcry from our civic leadership.  We need to recognize that the best representation of our culture is our history.

Dog Walker

September 10, 2009, 01:30:06 PM
One thing San Diego has that I think might help Jacksonville are city recognized community planning groups elected by the citizens in each planning area. Projects for a said community are vetted by the citizens. A vote is held to recommend denial or approval. (These are projects that do not conform to the adopted community plan.) City planning liaison staff are available to provide information at the meetings which are held monthly in each planning area. If a project fails to pass muster, it is returned to the city to be re-worked. The city council can over ride, but I have not heard of this happening for many years. I believe there are approximately 54 planning groups in the city. They have been around for + or - 30 years.

The above is a great idea and should not only be considered in Jacksonville/Duval County, but throughout Florida and maybe the entire U.S.  I hope someone on this board with input into such an idea can run with it to the powers that be.


San Diego's idea should be forwarded to the Charter Revision Committee under way.  Any volunteers?


The Florida Hometown Democracy amendment to the Florida Constitution does this very thing.  It makes the public approve or disapprove any changes to the comprehensive plans of each city.

stephendare

April 10, 2012, 12:33:01 AM
"It's not anything we need to get too upset about or cry over. It's just a function of the marketplace. If there's no demand for it, it won't survive. It's the same everywhere." -Jim Gilmore, executive director of the Jacksonville Downtown Development Authority, regarding the closing of the Center Theater - 1/06/83

simms3

April 10, 2012, 07:25:16 AM
As in the case of the Prime Osborn Convention Center, the number of volunteers who flocked in to help with the Florida Theater was amazing and heartwarming.

These structures did not have to die, and the people of Jacksonville mourned them as they came down.

I was the last real occupant of the Arcade/Center theater.  It was owned by an absentee landlord who lived in New York.   He refused to put a dime into the building, which he bought at tax sale, despite the considerable fortune that he had amassed, first as a lawyer then as a judge.

The original elements of the building were all intact, from the nearly priceless Tiffany demi Globes that lit the ceiling, to the red silk brocade of the original wall coverings.

The bathrooms were inspirational, as they were done in original italian marble and had sculpted fountains in both of them.

I had my first magazine there in 1986-1987.  Brian Leisegang of Filter (and the other half of Nine Inch Nails) and the unspeakably annoying future publisher of Movement Magazine, Max Michaels lived with me briefly at the building.

Kema De Sagrada, the noted librarian at the Main Branch, Bill Cowan the owner of Big Shiny Shoes (the first new shop in the Five Points renovations) and many others all worked there at some point or another.

Downtown was still a city then, and the streets were literally full of people the entire day.   Hemming Park had been fatally wounded by the Gilmore era renovations, but the Landing was in the final phases of Construction so no one realized that the retail was on its way out forever.

The foundations for its destruction had already been laid.

The owner of the Carling was in the process of getting screwed over by the city over similar water connection issues faced by Cameron Kuhn, the parking division was getting revved up, and absentee landlords were beginning to be more common.

The old guys like Joe LaRose and the Cohen family, and Bernie Etlinger and so many long time downtowners were pessimistic.  But they wouldnt lower their rents when the vacancies happened.

The real estate agent who leased the Center/Arcade Theater was an interesting woman  by the name of Gerri Jones.  She'd made a name for herself by being a female pilot who showed her prospective clients properties from the air.

After we left the Arcade, she leased part of my space to Eddie Cotton and Pretty Boy Freud.   They used my old production room as their band practice space.

After that, she sickened and died with cancers of the breast and brain.

And after that, no one looked after the Arcade again.

It 'fell' just as the city wanted to tear the building down for a parking lot, the victim of powdery bricks and neglect.

Interesting story.  Almost hard to read.  Can we have a new slogan that forbids any praise of any mayor who presided over any destruction of downtown?  Some of it was inevitable because every city faced it, but is there a mayor since the 40s who was actually pro-downtown and opposed to any demolition?  They all think they did something great, but none of them have anything significant named after them and Jacksonville is still a small town.  If one of them had been so great, the city would have a memorial for that mayor by now and the city would just be a lot more significant.

mtraininjax

April 10, 2012, 10:18:04 AM
Quote
Pretty Boy Freud

Wow, now that was a few years ago. WOW!
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