Springfield: The Northbank's National Register Historic District

May 10, 2014 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Fom October 10th, 2006 we bring you one of our first photo tours of the historic Springfield area. Look how much has changed (plus some of what has been lost) since then.Confederate Park (formerly Dignan Park). The name change occurred in 1914, after the park was the epicenter of a Confederate Veterans Reunion, that attracted 48,000 former soldiers. Today it is a part of a chain of long ignored parks waiting to be restored to their former glory.


The Roller-Coaster History of Springfield and Main St. Redevelopment

1869 Springfield named for spring of good water located in a field (now W. 4th St.) Credited to Calvin L. Robinson, a Jacksonville merchant

1871 Springfield advertised as a planned residential community of Jacksonville (suburb) Offered by John H. Norton, one of Jacksonville’s first professional developers.

1878 Springfield area site (West of Pine Street (Main)) selected to erect the new public waterworks plant. D.J.A. Cloud of Pa. built City Water works and sewer for $ 200,000.

1879 Horse-drawn streetcar line built up Pine (Main) from Bay to 8th St. by B. Upton.

G.A. Backenstoe leased the trolley and built a skating rink, dinner hall, and restaurant at 8th and Pine.
Street car line sold to Springfield Company

1888 Jacksonville Board of Trade organized Sub-Tropical Exposition opened ( 325’ x 152’) at the Water Works Park corner Main and 1st --Erection began in the fall of 1887 to compete with California for tourism. (Jacksonville had been a major resort destination for several years.) President Grover Cleveland and Frederick Douglas visit Expo. Sub-tropical Exposition closed in 1891.

1888 Outbreak of yellow fever killed 427 in Jax; paralyzed business via a rather forceful quarantine.

1891 Sub-Tropical Exposition fourth year in existence. Drill ground built near the Sub-Tropical Exposition. Gale blew in part of Sub-Tropical Building.

When were the water lines extended up Main and into the neighborhood?

1893 Site at 1st and Laura became the Florida Zoological Gardens and Exposition until 1920’s when it moved to Heckscher Dr.

1893 Electric street car loop from Main to Walnut to 1st and back to Main. Didn’t go to west of Main until much later.

1936 Last trolley removed from service. 100 Palm trees along rails removed and planted around Waterworks Park. ( Only lost a few.)

Don’t know when street was paved; however, trolley rails were dug up in 2003 during current street project.

1977 The Springfield Neighborhood Plan was produced by the Jacksonville Planning Department. As the first comprehensive analysis of the area since its nadir in the Sixties, one important outcome of this report was a successful downzoning movement. This restricted further commercial intrusion into the residential streets.

1980 The Springfield Commercial Revitalization: Main Street Project was prepared for the Greater Springfield Business Association and the CoJ Department of Housing and Urban Development by Plantec Corporation to determine the commercial revitalization potential of an eleven-block area, including portions of both Main and Eighth Streets.

1984 Historic Property Survey Commissioned by SPAR and prepared by Historic Properties Associates according to the criteria used for placement on the National Register of Historic Places

1985 AIA R/UDAT Study was conducted by the AIA’s Regional Urban Design Assistance Team; this project assembled highly qualified architects, planners, preservationists, financiers, and residents who developed a comprehensive program for revitalizing the Springfield Historic District. One component called by a restructuring of Main St. with bumpouts, etc.

1986 In-Fill Design Study Another new organization, Springfield Revitalization, Inc., sponsored a design study of infill housing with the intention of acquiring vacant lots and building historically compatible housing. None were ever built.

1987 Springfield was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation received a duPont Grant to develop a new revitalization strategy for the Springfield Historic District. This funded a National Advisory Panel, a Local Implementation Committee, and some staffing for local organizations. Urban Partners collected data throughout the five-year Springfield Initiative. In the final study one recommendation was a study by the National Trust’s Main St. Center, to determine the feasibility of a preservation-based commercial revitalization program. This program spawned a variety of projects and numerous studies. After the initiative ended in 1993, two of the organizations dissolved.

1991 A separate study focusing on Main Street was conducted by the National Main Street Center. The Springfield Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Assessment determined that the community was not ready for the program.

1993 SPAR convened a Commercial Revitalization Task Force to spearhead the Main St. Project, to spur business and job development in the community and to create a partnership with existing businesses.

1994 Main St. Corridor Project was presented to the technical committee of the Municipal Planning Organization by Phil Neary. One of the major issues was improving the safety of the street, which had at that time the highest pedestrian crash areas in FDOT District 2. It was also rated high for vehicle crashes.

1996 After two years of work, which included many letters of support from local and state officials, the project received a rating of 19 on the MPO’s five-year plan. However, Ken Moreland, District 2 FDOT Secretary, encouraged the community to persevere because it could move up as other projects were completed.

1998 Mayor Delaney created a new Springfield Initiative. The Planning and Development Department organized the Springfield Auction, a unique method of getting owners of derelict housing to sell to qualified buyers. The subsequent publicity and subsidy was a major boost to the community.

1999 The Springfield Revitalization Roundtable was formed, providing a forum for city officials, developers, community organizations, and residents to hammer out issues from animal control to zoning.

2001 One of the most important results of this collaboration was the Main St. Improvement Project. Minutes of these monthly meetings detail the development and progress of this incredibly important project.

2002 Main St. Improvement Project Phase I began with anticipated completion Summer, 2003.

2003 At September Roundtable, city representatives dropped a bombshell: all funding designated for Main St. Improvement Phase II has been expended. Construction will likely stop until after Super Bowl or longer depending on availability of funding.

2003 Main St. Task Force formed to investigate ways to modify Phase II to continue the rehab process through 7th St., avoiding an extended delay, which would kill the revitalization momentum in Springfield.


Corner of Main and 8th, looking toward downtown, during the 1920s.




Looking North along Liberty Street.


The Main Street Restaurant & Bar is one of several local eateries in Springfield. 


An apartment building on the corner of 4th and Market Streets.  They don't build them this way anymore.


Meeks Ross Paulk & Associates CPAs renovated a regular block building into this Prairie School masterpiece about a year ago.  Just goes to show, all new construction projects don't have to resort to only having bland stucco exterior finishes.


Two historic homes being restored at Market and Second Streets.


This structure is one of the few Romanesque Revival style buildings in Jacksonville.  It was constructed in 1923 for the Old Holy Rosary Catholic Church.


Springfield's side streets are full of small unique multi-family brick structures.


15 West Sixth Live/Work Lofts represents a new long awaited trend in Springfield.  New construction infill mult-family urban buildings that are also approved for limited commercial and office use.  Projects such as this will help bring back the Main Street corridor into the vibrant pedestrian freindly commercial corridor it should be.


Hogans Creek. This waterway and its former swamps are the main reason Springfield did not burn as a result of the Great Fire of 1901.  In 1928, the Creek was channelized with decorative balstrades and jogging paths in an effort to control flooding.  The work was designed by Henry J. Klutho.  Unfortunately, the crown jewel that was created was not maintained by a city who's former administrations gave up on the inner city for greener pastures in the suburbs.  Today, while the city spends money greening a non-pedestrian surface parking lot filled strip of Main Street and hires consultants to possibly destroy Freindship Fountain, the park area still remains a shell of its former self in desperate need of help, despite millions of dollars being invested in Springfield and Downown.


City Engineer's Building paralleling Hogans Creek.  This Prairie style structure was built around 1912.  Today its a part of FCCJ's downtown campus.


This picture along Springfield's chain of parks, shows the lack of maintenance of what was once and should be the city's crown urban jewel.  Fortunately, local residents have banded together to clean, paint and improve what the city has historically ignored.  With this renewed interests these parks can become just as popular as the ones many visit and enjoy in urban cities like Boston, New York and DC.


Fronting Klutho Park, the old Jacksonville Jewsih Center was constructed in 1929.  It was recently purchased by a local developer who plans to convert the structure into luxury housing.


A duplex on the southeast corner of 4th and Hubbard Streets.


This stately home was constructed in 1890  It was the home of Frank S. Gray, head of the S.B. Hubbard Hardware Company from 1890 to 1946.


While several structures have been renovated and new homes built on vacant lots, some buildings such as this one, still need some tender love and care.


A row of restored brick single family homes along Laura Street.


Architect Roy Benjamin's Lauderdale Apartments at 201 East Second Street was constructed in 1912.


The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, along Hogans Creek is a part of the world's largest private holding of important original manuscripts and documents.  The only US locations are located in Seattle, New York, Duluth, Charleston, Buffalo, Shreveport and Santa Barbara. This Marsh & Saxelbye structure was originally First Church of Christ Scientist, when completed in 1921.



SRG homes along East 4th Street.


Springfield is so architecturally rich, its one of those places you always notice something new or unique when walking on foot.  Its hard to come across a frame 4-plex, such as this one in Metro Jacksonville.


Springfield is one of Jacksonville's few historic districts with a decent sized warehouse district.  This building was originally the Dorsey Company Bakery.  Today it has been renovated as a part


The Pearl at First & Main, is one of the most popular hangouts in Springfield and urban Jacksonville.


Behind the greenery, sits the Saint Mary's Episcopal Church at 1918 Laura Street.


W.B Barnett Residence was built for the founder of Barnett Bank, in 1901.  Today its a meeting hall for the Solomon Lodge, one of the city's oldest Masonic organizations.


Springfield Presbyterian Church - contructed in 1922


New SRG infill homes along Silver Street, just north of 4th Street.. 


Kirby-Smith School at 2034 Hubbard Street.  This Mediterranean Revival structure is identical to the John Gorrie School in Riverside.


Today Springfield has grown to become a mixture of old and new.


Is it possible to be both a Jaguar and Bucs fan?


Historic Duplexes along Silver Street.  This type of architecture is a direct reminder of that in Midwestern US cities.


Right between the border of Springfield and Downtown sits the downtown campus of FCCJ.  For the inner city to achieve an ultimate level of vibrancy, we all have to find away to help bridge these two urban neighborhoods with the college campus dividing them.

SPRINGFIELD - ONE OF THE TOP 5 PLACES IN THE US TO INVEST, according to ABC News: http://www.sparcouncil.org/Mambo/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,38/


Brooklyn: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/209/5/

Durkeeville: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/193/5/

Jacksonville Beach: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/216/57/

LaVilla: www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/164/5/