The Underappreciated Side of Riverside

December 22, 2009 31 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Riverside/Avondale Historic District is well known for its diverse mix of architecture and urban parks. However, it can be argued that the dense integration of non single family building fabric is what gives the district its true unique charm and vibrancy.

* Due to the geographic size of the Riverside/Avondale Historic District, this article only focuses on the area north of King Street.  The rest of the historic district will be featured in future "Underappreciated" series articles in 2010.

Park Street

The Mediterranean Revival style Riverside Baptist Church (1924-1925) was the only church designed by famed Palm Beach Architect Addison Mizner.  

The cornerstone for the St. Paul's Catholic Church & School was laid on Easter Sunday of 1923, at the intersection of Forbes and Acosta Streets.

In 1939, ground was broken for a new St. Paul's Church.  In 1940, the church was completed and the original structure became exclusively a school building; as it is today.

Completed in 1928, the Park Manor Apartments' facade is typical of the many apartment buildings constructed in the city during the 1920's, as part of the fever to make profits from real estate during the "Boom" years.

Five Points

Five Points is an area of small local commerce and entertainment. This area is considered one of the most concentrated commercial developments from the 1910s and 1920s of the Riverside District. Numerous individually owned bars, cafes, music venues and shops make up the commercial element in the area. Single and multiple home residences are also found in the area. Five Points is the point of convergence of Post St, Lomax St and Margaret St. Known for its eclectic residents, Five Points also has a reputation for highly artistic elements.

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Oak Street

In the late 1880s, a streetcar line was extended down the center of Oak Street to connect Riverside with Downtown Jacksonville.  Today, remnants transit friendly and dense development continue to dominant the corridor.

The Frances Court Apartments were named for the daughter of architect Leeroy Sheftall.

At the corner of Oak & Barrs Streets, the Prairie-style Delgado Building (1919) contains a mix of retail at street level and residential use above.  Across the street from the Frances Court Apartments, this building was constructed for Leeroy Sheftall's mother-in-law, Delores Delgago.

Riverside Avenue

Formerly known as Commercial Street (renamed to Riverside in 1893), Riverside Avenue serves as the main connection between the historic district and downtown Jacksonville.

The Fenimore Apartments were originally planned as a two story building.  Completed in 1922, it is said that the name "Fenimore" was taken from James Fenimore Cooper, whose novels were popular at that time.

Prado Walk is the newest addition to Riverside Avenue.  Gibb's NY Subs and Salads is the first tenant to open in the retail building at the intersection of Riverside and Barrs Streets.

Riverside Square provides the community with a number of dining and retail options within short walking and biking distance.

Shown in the background, the Park Lane Apartments was the first skyscraper to incorporate "setback" construction when completed in 1926.

The Prairie style San Juline Apartments were designed by architect Roy A. Benjamin and completed in 1916.

The Fletcher Building was designed by Taylor Hardwick and completed in 1963.  The building once featured a rooftop smokestack for the building's boiler, shaped in the form of a rocket.

See image of building in it's original form here:

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is a public museum located at the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Post Street. The museum focuses on portraying European and American artistic paintings. The museum also has a large collection of Meissen porcelain.

The cummer opened in 1961 on the grounds of the former residence of Arthur and Ninah Cummer. There are three flower gardens on the museum grounds, the oldest dating back to 1903. The permanent collection of the Museum currently includes over six thousand works of art dating from 2100 B.C. to the 21st century.

Art Connections is a nationally known education center that increases the cultural learning of over 50,000 students each year and offers hands-on-art experiences for the museum visitors.

The Museum is housed in a series of modest 20th century buildings, but opens onto the St. Johns River, an historic and active Florida waterway. In early 2002 the Museum began a series of initiatives to study its future space needs, and acquired the adjacent historic Woman's Club of Jacksonville, a Tudor style residential building which will serve as a public programs and events center for the Museum. The project received a 2009 award from the Jacksonville Historical Commission.

A view of downtown and the St. Johns River from Landcaste Street.

Stockton Street

John Gorrie Junior High School was named after Dr. John Gorrie, the inventor of the ice-making machine and the first air conditioning system.

The Church of the Good Shepherd's Worsham Hall at the corner of Stockton and Forbes Streets.

The Tudor Revival style Oxford Hall Apartments were completed in 1929.

Streetcar Ready

A streetcar on Riverside Avenue in 1915.  The Riverside line took passengers from downtown to Riverside, Avondale and Ortega before terminating at NAS Jax.

Metro Jacksonville has been a strong advocate of returning real streetcars back to the communities they helped establish.  An important element in implementing fixed mass transit lines is connecting areas of dense residential population with various major destinations. In addition to having Five Points, Park and King, and St. Vincent's Medical Center as major neighborhood commercial and medical destinations, the streets of Riverside between Margaret and King are dominated by multi-family housing. As Jacksonville reintroduces streetcars to the community, directly serving a district like this should be obvious.

Photos by Ennis Davis

Other articles in this series:

The Underappreciated Side of Springfield