Annie Lytle demolition back on track?

June 2, 2009 66 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

If developers Doug Milne and Carlton Jones have their way with Council's LUZ committee today, Jacksonville could lose yet another significant historic building.

History of the Annie Lytle School

Annie Lytle Public School

1011 Peninsular Place
Date: 1917
Architect: Rutledge Holmes
Builder: Florida Engineering & Construction Co.

In 1891 a frame school house was built on this site.  Wings and extensions were added until it became a large wooden box-like structure, constituting a dangerous fire hazard.  It was replaced with this present building, which was constructed after Duval County voters passed a $1,000,000 bond issue in 1915 to build more than a dozen new brick school houses.  This one was first known as Public School Number Four but later was renamed Annie Lytle School, after its former principal.  It cost over $250,000 and originally overlooked Riverside Park, before the construction of I-95 isolated in in the 1950's.  The dominant architectural feature of the school is a Neo-Classic pedimented portico supported by colossal Doric columns at the entrance.  Ironically, this impressive portico is simply an ornamental attachment to the facade and has little relationship to the actual roofline.  Other decorative features include a modillioned cornice that runs around the building.

Source: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage Landmarks for the future by Wayne W. Wood.

Once gone, they are gone forever

If the Council's Land Use and Zoning Committee shortsightedly votes to completely destroy yet another piece of Jacksonville's dwindling history, the Annie Lytle will join this extensive collection of impressive structures that no longer exist.

Why is Historic Preservation Important?

Historic preservation is the practice of protecting and preserving sites, structures or districts which reflect elements of local or national cultural, social, economic, political, archaeological or architectural history. Preservation has many diverse purposes and rewards, including the strengthening of local economies, stabilization of property values, the fostering of civic beauty and community pride, and the appreciation of local and national history. Historic preservation is a public purpose that advances the education and welfare of citizens, while providing economic and aesthetic benefits as well.

Historic resources are defined as districts, sites, structures, objects or buildings that are greater than seventy-five years in age, and are significant in local, state or national history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture. History encompasses all cultures, economic classes, and social, political and private activities that form the background to the present.

What is a historic site or structure?

Historic resources fall into five categories or types: buildings, sites, structures, objects, or districts. A building is a construction created to shelter human activity, while structures are functional constructions usually created for purposes other than creating human shelter. A site is the location of a significant event, occupation or activity, while an object is primarily an artistic creation such as a sculpture, monument or statuary. A district is a collection of any or all of the above which is united historically or aesthetically.

What are the benefits of historic preservation?

The benefits of historic preservation come in many forms. The prime benefit of historical restoration is always education. It also includes both public and private benefits. Historic preservation safeguards a community's heritage, making it available to future generations for civic enjoyment and educational activities. Preservation stabilizes property values and strengthens local economies. In addition, the conservation and maintenance of historic resources and scenic areas fosters civic beauty and bolsters community pride. Finally, historic preservation has been successfully employed to improve business opportunities in many locales.

Lost Jacksonville
A century ago, Jacksonville was the center of a highly progressive architectural community. Over time, we have become a conservative community with little regard for the importance of architecture in our urban landscape. Here is a collection of images showcasing several significant structures that no longer exist in the downtown area. A few came down in fires; others were replaced by larger structures. Most were simply torn down and replaced with parking garages and surface lots. Hopefully, one day reminders showing what we have lost will provoke our community to work harder to save what's left.

City Hall - NW corner of Forsyth & Ocean (current site of Haydon Burns Library)

Palace Theatre - SW corner of Forsyth & Ocean (current site of metal parking deck)

National Bank of Jacksonville - NW corner of Forsyth & Laura (current site of Jacksonville Bank Building)

4. Masonic Temple - SE corner of Main & Monroe (current site of surface parking lot)

Looking east down Adams Street - Intersection of Adams & Julia

Photos of Lost Jacksonville

You can't recreate these type of historical structures. Once they're gone, they're gone forever. Jacksonville could have been as as popular and virbant as historic Savannah, Charleston and Boston.  Instead a lack of overall vision and shortsightedness has resulted in the continued demolition of urban Jacksonville, one building at a time, leaving us with the  blighted moonscape we enjoy today. This strategy is a proven failure and is disgraceful to the history and future of our community.

Empty surface parking lots on building foundations.

Unmaintained LaVilla parking lot where a building once stood.

Historic Downtown First Baptist Church being demolished by KBJ Architecture firm.

Lampru Apartments being demolished in Springfield.

The Lerner Shops being demolished at 118 Main St.

Is Annie Lytle next?

The demolition of Annie Lytle will come before the City Council's Land Use and Zoning committee today at 5 p.m.  Let Council know how you feel on this subject in person or via email:

Article by Ennis Davis