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Abandoned Jacksonville: Seminole Club

For a century, the Seminole Club was a place for Jacksonville's elite. Now it's just one of many Downtown Jacksonville buildings sitting empty.

Published March 13, 2014 in History      23 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Named in honor of the Seminole Indian tribe, before its closure, the Seminole Club was Jacksonville's oldest social club for men and seventh oldest of its type in the country. This building was constructed in 1903 as a two story structure, featuring a rooftop garden. Its architects were Rutledge Holmes and Arthur Gilkes. In 1907, a third floor, rumored to be a bordello, was added for affluent bachelors. Throughout the building's years, a number of famous people have visited the site including President Teddy Roosevelt, Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, President Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, and President John F. Kennedy. The club's popularity declined with the rest of downtown in the second half of the 20th century, leading to its closure in 1990. In 1998, local investors known as Restitution, Inc. reopened the club. However, by 2004, the building was closed for good. A full decade has passed since its closure, despite the building's history and centralized downtown location. Despite the absence of life, the Seminole Club appears to be one of downtown Jacksonville's most well kept abandoned buildings.

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March 13, 2014, 03:04:32 AM
Looks like its in good condition which is not always the case here.


March 13, 2014, 07:20:29 AM
Holy hell!  That place is fantastic inside! 

Who owns it now?  What's its status?


March 13, 2014, 07:51:31 AM
It is hard to believe this is not a night club /restaurant... or something...


March 13, 2014, 08:10:23 AM
Looks like it is tight or they are still running HVAC. Only three damaged ceiling tile. Empty yes.....but "abandoned" seems a little inaccurate.

ben says

March 13, 2014, 08:37:20 AM


March 13, 2014, 09:08:24 AM
Holy hell!  That place is fantastic inside! 

Who owns it now?  What's its status?

Owned by Royal Bank America, after they foreclosed.


March 13, 2014, 09:13:20 AM
I believe it has been on the market a while.

Didn't HBO film some scenes from their movie about the Florida electoral vote recount inside the building?


March 13, 2014, 09:29:19 AM
I remember going here as a kid for family dinners, and in particular walking in on a raunchy bachelor party in the private bar upstairs. Didn't quite understand what I was seeing, but stole a few Playboys from the locker room to further my research.


March 13, 2014, 09:40:01 AM
Part of the Hemming plaza curse!


March 13, 2014, 09:46:32 AM
I always wondered what the interior was like. Great pics.


March 13, 2014, 10:08:07 AM
That would be a great location for a restaurant/ Jacksonville museum. Since that area is already established with the library and JMOCA, a museum that perhaps highlights Hemming Park ( Ax handle , great fire, Presidential speeches, etc) would be a good idea, I think. Jacksonville Historic Council should be all over this.


March 13, 2014, 10:10:32 AM
Too worried about Food Trucks!!


March 13, 2014, 10:46:39 AM
What a beautiful place.  I wish it would become a social club again.  Or restaurant and museum per Dapperdan's suggestion.


March 13, 2014, 01:50:24 PM
This is one hell of a building. Hopefully someone will take this up and do something cool with it.


March 13, 2014, 02:12:44 PM
I miss having lunch at Michelle Bombas when it was there.


March 13, 2014, 03:13:43 PM
Being that this is in excellent condition, considering its age and "abandonment", it's prime location and actually reasonable asking price I wonder why this has been listed for years.  Obviously there must be some back story or someone stopping any progress here.


March 13, 2014, 04:29:42 PM
Being that this is in excellent condition, considering its age and "abandonment", it's prime location and actually reasonable asking price I wonder why this has been listed for years. 

What is the asking price?
Obviously there must be some back story or someone stopping any progress here.

That would be the coj

Scrub Palmetto

March 13, 2014, 04:53:42 PM
Does the old Federal Reserve Bank building to its north have the only space currently occupied on this block?

Man, Hogan could really be something -- everything Laura is as far as I'm concerned. I love the intimacy of it, and there's the Skyway looming over, yes, but I actually appreciate the shade it provides, never mind the access to other parts of Downtown. Look at how well Hogan has stayed a canyon. (Knock on wood.) Only 2 small surface parking lots are between Bay and Beaver. There are several huge buildings that really have no relationship with the street, but their presence at least boosts the visuals, and anything above "demolished" is something to be happy about at this point. Bay to Forsyth isn't completely hopeless, Forsyth to Monroe has the right stuff, and the west side of Hogan Duval to Ashley does, too.

Ignoring the FBC obstacle, I sometimes wonder how smart it was to move government off the river and half-surround the town square with it. I'm glad the city has preserved the St. James, but it always feels to me like where I should be having lunch, or shopping, or people watching, not just staring at a giant City Hall and a dead plaza it resents being next to. It's the center of the city, and it's an entire block of virtually just walls. The US courthouse feels equally out of place to me. Draw a diagonal line between the two, and you have the library, MOCA, Chamblin's, and dining on one side, and you have the Seminole Club, the Ambassador, the Jones Bros. Furniture, the old JEA, and the Florida Baptist building on the other. Is it any wonder there's such contrast?

I hope there will be a renaissance in this area that doesn't involve the wrecking ball, as it could partially make up for the loss of non-government space around Hemming and the Skyway station, and give you a reason to head from these in more than one direction. The river is a great asset, but I feel more energy can come from an area where half of your frontage isn't just water, where you have places to go in every direction. Chicago, New York, and Toronto have great water assets, too, but Lake Shore Dr isn't Michigan Ave, the Lincoln Highway isn't Broadway, and Queen's Quay isn't Yonge St. The heart of activity is away from the water, and we should take notes from that. That's just my non-planner perspective, of course.

Can we... move the government again now, please? LaVilla, anyone? Back to the river? ;) Well, okay, okay... let's start with filling the Seminole Club with activity.

Edit: (Changed Hogan to Duval above.)


March 13, 2014, 04:59:53 PM
^I'm with you on wanting more activity at Hemming, but having government buildings on riverfront property was a much, much worse idea, and we're still paying for that decision even years after most of them have moved.

Scrub Palmetto

March 13, 2014, 05:18:41 PM
I agree it was bad, but I don't know about much, much worse, because I see both as considerably less than ideal. Maybe it depends on what you feel should be the center of activity, and obviously I feel that should be the Hemming Plaza area first, the river second. There are a lot of things along the river that I don't mind being there as much as I would mind them being in place of what's around Hemming Plaza -- CSX, the Aetna bldg, Fidelity, the Times-Union, Baptist Hospital, the Hyatt. I want better things for the riverfront, too, but the historical heart of downtown is a different animal. It's more of a small- or "human-" scaled environment than anything left south of Bay, and even most of the south of Forsyth, and the government buildings are block-sized (or larger) behemoths that are more out-of-place in scale where they are now than where they were, ignoring for a moment the fact that they were on the river. Just my 2 cents.


April 02, 2014, 02:03:52 AM
In the early 80s I applied for job there and was politely told they prefer to hire blacks ! Hows that for a kick in the pants?!?


April 02, 2014, 08:40:15 AM

“The strange thing is that I was negotiating to put Pete and Allison in the Seminole Club,” Langton said. “I made an offer, but it didn’t work.”


April 02, 2014, 09:04:00 AM
The Seminole Club would have been a great space for them. It would have also been ideal to have something on that end of Hemming Plaza.
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