Read the history and captions if you can, they make the photos more interesting. And I apologize in advance for my crappy camera and the crappy weather. These were taken a while back before it got hot and sunny and it was a Nor'Easter out.
On to my first photo thread:
A little history about Ortega (the pictures will have their own captions):
-Ortega is bordered by the St. Johns River on the East, the Cedar River on the North, and the Ortega River on the West, and the neighborhood was once a complete island, but is now a peninsula due to Ortega Blvd/Roosevelt Blvd crossing on the southern end.
-Highwayman and cattle rustler Daniel McGirt once inhabited the area in the 1700s; there is now a road named after him
-Don Juan McQueen attempted to establish a plantation in Ortega in 1791, but was forced to flee from attacks by Georgians and the French
-Heirs of a former landowner sold the island to Jacksonville Ortega Town Company in 1902, which borrowed money from Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan to develop the neighborhood.
-The first bridge connecting to the "mainland" was constructed in 1908 and was wooden. Waterfront sites were sold for $100 and water was free until 1911 and no taxes were paid until 1912.
-The Florida Country Club was constructed in 1910 and designed by famed New York architect Henry Bacon (Lincoln Memorial in DC), who also built a home for his family on current day Ortega Blvd.
-1920s Florida Land Boom proved to be the time of biggest development for Ortega when many masonry mansions were constructed in Mediterranean and Tudor Revival styles
-Current Ortega Bridge was completed in 1927
-Streetcars once stretched from Ortega to downtown
-Gangster "Machine Gun Kelly" rented a house by the Ortega Bridge on Grand in 1933 and mysteriously escaped with his wife before a police raid could catch him
Now to the photos...note that homeowners' names are not disclosed
First a skyline shot from the neighborhood to keep you guys enticed!
Ortega Bridge, originally built in 1908, rebuilt in 1927 (was once and maybe still is the busiest drawbridge in FL or the East Coast in number of openings…avoid at all cost if in a hurry
A new house…don’t worry, we’ll build way up from here!
A condo building where the average age is probably 80+.
New condos and one of many many marinas in the area.
Owner of this house just passed away this week. He had an illustrious business career, but then became an urban development pioneer in Riverside and also built and remodeled old homes in the area. He floated this house in 3 pieces through the Ortega Bridge from the opposite side of the river, and added onto it. It was built originally in 1917. He floated several other houses seen in the following pictures and remodeled them.
Nearing Ortega Point.
The owner of this house owns many companies, Bubba Burger being one. It’s a new house.
Former Episcopal Diocese of Florida bishop lives here with his wife from Greenwich.
1920s homes. The tudor revival on the left was built in 1925, and the houses across the street from the riverfront homes (many are also tudor revival and beautiful) were built from 1910 to 1920.
1920s homes, ok most homes photo’d are built in the 1920s, so I will quit saying so unless they have real historical significance or are new (though I am sure we can tell which ones are new)
Ok…old on right new on left. The owner of the house on the left started one of the largest private equity groups in the country, and his company is now managed principally by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm.
Setting up for a party…
Head of Regency Centers lives here (a large and well known publicly traded REIT based in Jacksonville and run “in the family,” this being one of the family members’ houses).
A very wealthy socialite lady lives here. She/her husband made her fortune in owning grocery store chains and other investments. Her son is rumored to have close to a billion dollars (lives in NJ now) by way of leasing land to communications companies to build cell towers across the country.
This house was built for James Spratt in 1925 and designed by famed architecture firm Marsh & Saxelbye. The frieze was designed and sculpted by an Austrian artisan who always remained anonymous, even though he was responsible for many significant works.
New on the right, old on the left. The house on the left is occupied by a former mayor of Jacksonville.
Stockton Park. If you look at an aerial of the neighborhood, you will see a grid network of streets (common in Jacksonville, believe it or not) with several circular and semicircular parks in the center of the neighborhood and several pocket parks and several parks along the riverfront. It is understood that due to the overall financial system of the residents of the neighborhood that it is up to them to maintain and beautify the parks, and not the job of the city. Sadly only a few of the parks have truly been spruced up.
I have no idea how this house was even built in this neighborhood…it sticks out like a sore thumb, but Ortega does not have the same regulations as the historic districts like Avondale, Riverside, and Springfield. Plastic surgeon lives here.
Old Darien, CT family lives here.
This house was floated down the river from a location on the point. It is an old 1910s house filled with old Cummer wood. It is absolutely gorgeous inside. Jack Del Rio, the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars lived here, but ended up moving to the opposite side of town to a very cookie cutter gated community.
2 of my favorite old houses in the neighborhood. The one on the left was recently redone.
One of these houses is currently being redone and will look great when complete!
I used to party at the house on the right A LOT until they moved away. The house on the left looks new, but is actually a 1920s home floated down the river and added onto.
New house on left.
Back to old homes for a while.
The owner of this home is the president and chair of the largest bank in FL and one of the fastest growing banks in the country. He recently got naming rights to the Jaguars stadium in a 5 year deal. An old Greenwich family lived here before.
These 2 houses are owned by one family (the parents of the wife of an owner of a previously shown house). The one on the left is used as a guest house. The owner was the founder and president of Computer Power before he sold it to Alltel. I think he did a few other notable things, too.