Urban Neighborhoods: Five Points

September 3, 2009 42 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In the 1920's, Five Points began as a commercial district catering to the rapidly growing residential areas surrounding it. Although officially a part of the Riverside-Avondale Historic District, Five Points has evolved into one of Jacksonville's most vibrant urban core districts in its own right.

Five Points Park Street

The intersection of Park & Post, looking south in the 1930s.

Five Points Theater

The Theater opened in 1927 as the Riverside Theater.  To your left is a sketch of the inside of the theater when it first opened.   Originally, the interior of the theater was Venetian and featured two decorative arched balconets, a wide frieze band, and prominent crown molding.  On the center of the ceiling were ornamental plaster rosettes where two Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers hung costing $5,000 each.  It was the first theater equipped to show talking pictures in Florida and the third nationally.  They equipped the theater with a devise called the Vitaphone.  The Vitaphone was developed by Western Electric in conjunction with Warner Brothers Pictures to synchronize sound and film.  The first movie the theater debuted the Vitaphone with was the movie Don Juan featuring John Barrymore.  To cover the cost of the Vitaphone admission went up from 25 cents to $1.10.  Because of the increase, the theater did not draw the business required to cover the cost.  The Vitaphone had to be moved to the Imperial theater downtown Jacksonville.  The theater did not make it and closed during the 1930' and re-opened as a neighborhood movie house only to close again in the 1940's.  The theater was remolded and re-opened in 1949 but this time with a new name, Five Points Theater.  It was one of the first in Jacksonville to provide a smoking lounge with push back seats.  The theater later provided Cinerama and stereophonic.  In 1972 the theater under went some renovation changing the original Gothic Revival Design.  The theater was still showing films until the doors closed in 1977 when it could not compete with the suburban multi-screens.  In 1984, the theater re-opened to house a professional theater group, the River City Playhouse.  The River City Playhouse lost there place in the Five Points theater when Club5 Inc. leased the theater for three years in 1991.  In 1991, the theater re-opened, but this time it was to make way to a music stage.  The doors opened to what was known as Club5 a nightclub that brought in music from jive to rock.  In 2004, the Planning and Development Department recommended that the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission approve the designation of the Riverside (Five Points) Theater Building as a City Jacksonville Landmark.

A Look Inside The Five Points Theater

The Park Arcade Building

The Park Arcade Building was one of the first commercial buildings constructed in 1928 in the Five Point’s area.  This building consisted of seven buildings in one.  The building style is Mediterranean and each building is depicted by a different rooftop.  The picture to the left shows the different rooftops.  The Park Arcade building sets the tone for the Five Points area. By the end of 1928, Five Points had twenty completed businesses.  

In the 1930, a craze for miniature golf swept the country. Here in Jacksonville Five Points was the first to build an indoor-outdoor golf course.  The first two stores in the Park Arcade Building 1017-1019 Park Street housed the first indoor-outdoor miniature golf of Florida called Five Points Miniature golf course.  Back in those days Miniature golf was one of the few sports you can do after work and did not have to dress up.  The game was inexpensive and allowed you to exercise while getting fresh air.  At Five Points, the game started inside, while the middle portion was played outside, and you finished the ending portion inside.  The highlight of the game was a water obstacle.  The game was so popular they had tournaments that gave away up to $200 in prizes.  The picture on the left shows the Park Arcade building.  Today you will find Abernathy - Shortridge Opticians at 1017 Park and Five Points Café at 1019 Park street.  The picture to the right shows the Park Arcade Building today.  By the end of 1928, Five Points had completed twenty businesses in the area.  Some of the businesses were businesses such as Arcade Cash & Carry, Southland Ice Cream Parlor, Gulf Gas Station, Lane Drug Store, and Attwood Pharmacy. Some of today's businesses are Nicotine, Anomly, Roost/Spruce, and Whalebone Grill.

Lomax Street

Riverside Park

Riverside Park is located adjacent to Park Street in the Riverside area of west Jacksonville. The 1869 plat of Riverside reserved fourteen acres for a park, and after the receiving the land as a donation, the city began developing its second-oldest park in the early 1890’s. Workers created walk paths, a carriage lane, and two spring-fed lakes that were stocked with ducks. Ornamental stone bridges and camphor trees further beautified the landscape, which became one of the South’s loveliest parks by 1907. Other past amenities included a bandstand and tennis courts, and the Men’s Garden Club and the city created a camellia garden on the grounds in 1967. Following several years of improvements initiated by Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP), disaster struck the park in 1997, when a savage storm devastated the grounds. Fifty-two trees were lost, but the city and RAP worked diligently to restore this Riverside landmark.

Memorial Park

Memorial Park lies nestled between Riverside Avenue and the St. Johns River. In 1918, the Jacksonville Rotary Club proposed the idea for a park to honor the 1200 Floridians who perished in WWI, and the City purchased the property in 1919. Thirty-one civic groups worked in planning and raising funds for the park, which was dedicated Christmas Day, 1924. The park soon became the scenic focal point of Riverside. Designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers firm, the park features the bronze sculpture Life, created by the celebrated Charles Adrian Pillars (1870-1937). A local resident for 26 years, he also created Florida’s two statues residing in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In 1986, Anne Freeman founded the Memorial Park Association, which along with the City has worked steadfastly to restore and preserve this historic landmark, particularly after a tornado devastated the grounds in 1997.

"Winged Victory" is the focal point of Memorial Park.  Designed by Charles Adrian Pillars, the nude figure caused quite a controversy among the local society.

Park Lane Apartments

The sixteen-story Park Lane was Riverside's first high-rise building and caused quite a stir when it was built in 1926. It towered over Memorial Park and was completely out of scale with the stately residences around it.  For many years the Park Lane was Jacksonville's third tallest building.  It was originally built as co-op apartments, a novel idea in those days, which the developer Francis Mason brought back from a trip to New York.  The Park Lane was the forerunner of Florida's high-rise condominiums.  It was also the first tall building in Jacksonville to use "setback" construction, permitting the apartments in the upper stories to have open terraces and sun parlors.
Source: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage Landmarks for the Future

Margaret Street

Margaret Street connects the historic Five Points strip to Memorial Park and the St. Johns River.  Fueled by Five Point's popularity, several adaptive reuse and urban infill projects have taken place along Margaret Street.

Riverside Market Square

Anchored by a 28,000 square foot Publix, the Sembler Company's Riverside Market Square replaced the abandoned Riverside Hospital.

1661 Riverside

St. Johns Apartments

Riverside Arts Market

If Mayor Peyton has his way, eventually the Northbank Riverwalk will be expanded to provide a direct car free route between downtown and Five Points.

For more information on Five Points: http://www.5pointsjax.com/history.php

Article by Ennis Davis