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Preservation Prevails by Nicole Lopez

It has been over a year since a historic home in Springfield has been demolished, and the turn of the New Year marked 2012 as the first year since designation without a single demolition. That last statement needs to be repeated: 2012 is the first year without a single demolition in Springfield since 1987.

Published January 16, 2013 in Neighborhoods      18 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


The passage of mothballing legislation in August of 2011 validated that a community can rally together and make positive change happen; again.  Springfield is a survivor, deeply rooted with passionate preservationists who over the years have come together time and time again to save the houses.  Each fight backed by different issues and people, but the end result, the same; a community tied together to preserve history for generations to come.

 To date, six historic homes have achieved mothball status, having fully completed the requirements of their mothball Certificate of Appropriateness (COAs). Four more homes are “pending” during the COA process to also achieve mothball status, each still in their window of time to complete the work for the mothball certificate.  All of these homes, many marred with city fines and condemnation, now have a new lease on life, each with owners who will over the course of the three-year mothball certificate, get the home closer to it’s certificate of occupancy.  

There are multiple reasons why mothballing is beneficial for a community.  Here are a few:  

• Mothballing stops rolling fines, allowing the owner to rehab their home in a reasonable amount of time and not have to battle with code enforcement.

• Mothballing protects the home from vandals and the elements of weather.

• Mothballing “turns the frog into a prince.” As the certificate requires upkeep, maintenance, and work towards the Certificate of Occupancy (CO), it is a win-win for surrounding homes and the entire community.  A neglected home is now a loved home and it looks a helluva lot better too.

• Mothballing encourages buyers to take a chance on a “scary” home thereby giving them a fair shot at rehab as the certificate provides time and not harassment to make it habitable.  

Click here for Mothballing information

Mothballing legislation provided hope and encouragement to owners who abandoned their homes.  While that may sound silly, it is not.  Backed by a neighborhood of passionate volunteers who care about their community, over a dozen homes where given away to PSOS and individuals so that they may be saved.  Dancy Terrace, the bungalow court at Main and 9th Streets, which was saved time and time again by neighbors who rallied behind its preservation, now overwhelmingly rests in the hands of Springfield owners.  14 of the 24 bungalows are in “protective custody.”  

In 2012, the community rallied around the Pearl Street house which prompted Councilmember Lumb to initiate rewriting legislation yet again to protect historic homes.  A 4th home was revitalized through the Make it Happen Preservation Project last summer, and the community came together and in less than 24 hours, raising over $1,000 to stabilize a neighbor’s home and prevent it’s emergency demolition (Kenneth’s home on E. 9th)  Springfield residents Pat and Alannah rehabbed a lovely rusticated block home on Walnut Court that succumbed to fire, it’s roof collapsing into the second floor.  A generous donation and expertise from Joe and Gloria at Glory Homes Inc. saved that house yet again.  The home is stabilized and working it’s way to it’s mothball certificate.  

Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” exudes Historic Springfield.  Even folks who no longer reside in the hood, keep Springfield and it’s people close to their heart.  Springfielder’s know it: we are Jacksonville’s best kept secret.  Hats off to a remarkable community, let’s keep saving the houses!    

By Nicole Lopez
Special thanks to Bill Killingsworth and the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission staff.

For more information, visit:

Preservation SOS was founded in 2010 as a Florida non-profit corporation. It was formed after a community meeting where residents, business owners, city officials, members of existing community groups, and friends came together to brainstorm what could be done to save our homes in the Springfield National Historic District. We are here, ready, willing, and able to do what we can to prevent further demolitions and make Springfield the best community in Jacksonville. Preservation SOS was instrumental in passing a mothball ordinance in 2012. During 2010 and into 2011, houses were demolished at a rate as high as one a month. For all of 2012, not a single house was demolished in Springfield, in part due to the vigilance and aggressive advocacy by Preservation SOS members. Up to today, 12 houses were donated to Preservation SOS. All where in imminent danger of demolition. Presservation SOS completed the mothball process at one house, pased it on to a new owner for restoration. Three other houses are in the final steps of mothballing. One house in particular, 436 Walnut Court, required extensive structural bracing after a fire ravaged the structure. A second burned out house has been cleaned and mothballed. Preservation SOS identified a new owner for it and is currently negotiating the transfer of the property to the new owner who agreed to restore it.

Preservation SOS is able to mobilize the neighborhood. During our summer “Make it Happen” initiatives, we regularly attract 50 or more volunteers to assist us. For our projects, we have been able to use pro-bono services from Architects, Structural Engineers, Attorneys, certified contractors and qualified craftsmen to assist at each step of the process.



January 16, 2013, 03:30:51 AM
Congratulations to all of you. Impressive!


January 16, 2013, 04:52:12 AM
Indeed.  Very impressive work. Congratulations and Thank YOU to ALL involved.


January 16, 2013, 07:09:41 AM
Positive and caring people doing positive and caring things!  Way to go, Jacksonville!!!

Bill Hoff

January 16, 2013, 07:35:17 AM
I'm glad mothballing is an option now - it can be very helpful. Great piece.

Adam W

January 16, 2013, 07:41:45 AM
Great work. It's amazing to see what dedicated people can accomplish. It's easy to get cynical about so many things - but this story shows that a group of volunteers can actually make a major difference that will have a long-term impact on the social and historical fabric of the neighborhood. You guys really should be proud of what you have managed to accomplish so far.


January 16, 2013, 08:11:11 AM
Great work. It's amazing to see what dedicated people can accomplish. It's easy to get cynical about so many things - but this story shows that a group of volunteers can actually make a major difference that will have a long-term impact on the social and historical fabric of the neighborhood. You guys really should be proud of what you have managed to accomplish so far.

Oh don't stop being cynical yet, you'd be amazed at the fights we've had during this process, with code enforcement over one thing or another, and with SPAR which continues to try and cut us out of the loop and undermine our efforts, while paradoxically also trying to take credit for the results. I guess old habits die hard.

But it's not all bad, along the way we've gotten some amazing help from the folks at the HPC and the building department, who have been very supportive. I think they all wanted something like this to happen, there just wasn't a group out there for them to play ball with. Before us, the neighborhood's 'preservation' group was actually causing many of the demolitions. Thankfully those days are over.

We do have one problem that all of you can help us solve. We've stabilized and mothballed these structures, but we need to find them a "forever family" willing to spruce them up and live in them. So far we've found one home a new owner, but we have other properties seeking loving families. The only restriction is that you have to fix it up, not demolish it. Please contact me or any of the other PSOS members if you are interested, so we can arrange a tour.


January 16, 2013, 08:48:56 AM
& thank God for Chris who keeps us out of trouble -- mostly.  Every crazy grassroots org needs a good lawyer.


January 16, 2013, 11:44:53 AM
Looking forward to seeing more and more of those wonderful red hearts.   

Cheshire Cat

January 16, 2013, 11:55:15 AM
So proud of and thankful to everyone involved in this effort!  YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!  Putting actions to words.  It does not get much better for a city than this.  WELL DONE!   8)


January 16, 2013, 01:44:42 PM
 Chris, Bill Hoff, the president of SPAR, just commented on how great mothballing is. The present SPAR board has supported this effort 100%.WE are grateful for the work SOS and the city  have done to make this happen. Can we quit beating SPAR up every chance we get? Please?


January 16, 2013, 02:59:19 PM
I was back at the Drew house again today.  Picking up trash.  (:  Also spotted another house with a heart.  Took a picture.  Want to know where some more are located and would it be alright for me to post them on FB?  I have started a Photos by Big Cheese and am using it to put my crappy pics. I would like to have one album dedicated to the "This Place Matters."  Spread the word a little bit more.  BUT, I will NOT post anything without permission.  Promotion is strictly up to you.  Do not want to step on any toes..


January 16, 2013, 03:11:59 PM
Thank you LauraB.
Big Cheese.  You can friend on Facebook "Preservation SOS" we are a person there.
We have a Dancy Terrace page you can "like" and post there too.
Sounds like we need to make a page: This Place Matters.
Lemme see what I can do in these next days.
Darling, you can post and spread the word and knock 'em dead all you'd like.
We appreciate all the love and support we can get in saving the houses!
Run with it!  Spread the word of preservation!
(as to where are the located?) Gosh.  Every quadrant in Historic Springfield.
(Ionia, W. 3rd, Hubbard Terrace, Laura, W. 4th, Liberty to name a few.)


January 16, 2013, 04:53:37 PM
thank you, iloveionia.  I am just the new kid on the block trying to make a difference  in my small way.
I will friend Preservation SOS.  And, yes, This Place Matters would b wonderful!


January 17, 2013, 10:45:15 AM
Chris, Bill Hoff, the president of SPAR, just commented on how great mothballing is. The present SPAR board has supported this effort 100%.WE are grateful for the work SOS and the city  have done to make this happen. Can we quit beating SPAR up every chance we get? Please?

For the responses and discussion on this point, please see the split topic here:,17247.0.html


January 18, 2013, 04:55:11 PM
I have posted the pics. of the house with the hearts on Pearl which I mentioned above.  I will try and get out and take more This Place Matters as I find them.  Post them too.  Doing what I can to help.


January 19, 2013, 05:34:25 PM
To iloveionia:  Be still my heart!  I was over that way today looking.  Been a long time since I was in that area.  I am overjoyed at the progress and the beauty of a lot of what I saw.  I don't remember much more than blight on my visits.  Hooray for everyone making a diffrence!
   I have to say;  "I love Ionia, too!"


January 19, 2013, 07:43:36 PM
Ionia was hard hit with demolitions.  Half of the housing stock on that street is gone unfortunately.  But what does remain looks pretty darn good doesn't it?  "We've come a long way baby!" 
With thanks to SPAR and Greenscape, over a dozen trees were planted up and down Ionia last weekend.  What a blessing!
It's a lovely street with MANY long time homeowners there who have lived in Springfield for upwards of 30+ years.  I love all of Springfield's streets, but Ionia is surely my favorite.   


January 19, 2013, 08:43:32 PM
I did a lot of driving around looking at homes.  It was exciting.  I hadn't been in that area since I finished taking photos in the Old City Cemetery.  It has certainly changed for the better.  I stopped and took a few pics. of the house at 7th and Market (?)  and  at a oouple of other places.  I got a couple over at 9th or 10th and Main.  Was going to take some more there but some sketchy looking guys walked by and I got a little uncomfortable.  After I was back at the car I realized they semed to be more spooked by me than visa-versa.  AND, what really ticked me off is some more I took including one on Ionia didn't take 'cause my card was full.  DAMN!  lol  Posted them on my Photos by Big Cheese for anyone to get al look.
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