Urban Neighborhoods: Brentwood

April 28, 2010 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores the Metro North neighborhood known as Brentwood.

The History of Brentwood & Metro North

The neighborhoods that constitute Metro North, such as North Springfield, New Springfield, Brentwood, Norwood, and Northshore (Tallulah) resulted from an expansion of residential growth north out of downtown Jacksonville and the earlier Springfield neighborhood that occurred predominately during the first half of the twentieth century.  Interstate 95 roughly defines the Metro North area on the west, Moncrief Creek and the Trout River on the north, North Main Street on the east, and West Twelfth Street on the south, which is the northern boundary of the Springfield Historic District.  To the south is the earlier Springfield neighborhood that border Downtown, to the north and east are Panama Park, Long Branch, and Talleyrand, with Lake Forest and 45th and Moncrief neighborhoods to the west and north.  Although having some settlement and platting during the nineteenth century, the greater majority of the Metro North area was developed during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Areas immediately to the north and northwest of Downtown Jacksonville were for the most part sparsely populated until the expansion of new residential subdivisions during the first quarter of the twentieth century.  Today occupied by the various neighborhoods that constitute the Mid-Westside community (Durkeeville, Chase & 29th, Royal Terrace, and Grand Park), as well as Metro North, which includes North Springfield, Brentwood, Norwood, and Northshore (Tallulah), these large wooded parcels were mainly occupied by farms; lumber and naval store operations during most of the nineteenth century.

In the summer of 1888, Jacksonville was paralyzed with an outbreak of yellow fever that crippled the economy and resulted in the death of 427 people.  With a rigid quarantine established against Jacksonville, many citizens who had left the city had to be housed in refugee camps located in the outlying areas.  These refuge camps included Camp Perry along the St. Marys River at Boulogne, Camp Mitchell located seven miles west of the city, Camp Howard located two miles north of the city limits, and the “Sands Hills Hospital” just beyond Camp Howard.  Reportedly located near the current site of the Gateway Mall, the “Sands Hills Hospital” was actually constructed earlier to serve as an emergency medical facility after a smallpox scare in 1883. Reportedly many of the casualties from the 1888 yellow fever epidemic were buried in graves located near the “Sands Hills Hospital”.  Although there is no physical presence of these graves, it has been reported through oral sources over the years that construction in the Gateway Mall area has resulted in the discovery of human remains associated with the yellow fever epidemic.

The large open tract between Moncrief Creek to the north and Golfair Boulevard to the south and east to Springfield Boulevard, which once included the “Sands Hills Hospital” and later the site of the Gateway Mall, was partially utilized as fairgrounds, racetrack, and prison farm before being converted to other uses.  The old Brentwood Golf course, which was the namesake for Golfair Boulevard, was carved from a major portion of this tract, which was divided into two sections by the construction of Interstate 95.  Originally opened by the City of Jacksonville in 1923, and designed by the famed Scottish golf architect, Donald Ross, the eighteen-hole Brentwood Course was sold to private interest in the 1960’s to avoid integrating the public facility.  Closed by the late 1970’s, the property was sold to the Duval County School Board for the construction of the A. Philip Randolph Academy of Technology with the remaining property reopening in 2000 as a nine-hole course with driving range under the direction of the First Tee of Jacksonville, Inc.

A race at the fairgrounds in 1922.

Starting in the LaVilla area west of Downtown at noon on May 3, 1901, the fire destroyed within an eight-hour period over 2,300 buildings located on 148 city blocks causing an estimated 15 million in property damage.  Although only seven people lost their lives as a result of the fire, 8,677 people were left homeless.  Destroying the oldest and most densely populated area of the city, the fire consumed twenty-three churches, ten hotels including the grand St James and Windsor, as well as almost all public buildings such as the courthouse and city hall.  The destruction caused by the 1901 fire ushered in a new era of growth in Downtown Jacksonville referred to as the Jacksonville Renaissance (1901 – 1920).  It was during this period of significant economic and population growth during the first two decades of the twentieth century that the residential character of the Metro North began to develop and grow.

Although scores of new subdivisions were platted in the area between 1901 and 1913, these developments became identified collectively under such names as North Springfield, New Springfield, Brentwood, Tallulah, Northshore, Panama Park, and Norwood.

Brentwood in 1940.

Placed on the market in 1913 by the Brentwood Realty Investment Company under C.W. Bartleson, President, the original Brentwood Subdivision was roughly defined by West 26th Street on the south, West 35th Street on the north, and from North Pearl Street on the east to North Davis Street on the west.

To the south of the Brentwood Subdivision, the City of Jacksonville had acquired a 2.1 acre parcel between West 21st Street on the south to West 28th Street on the north from members of the Manery, Jackson, and Mattox families in 1927 and 28 which was opened as Brentwood Park in 1929. A large parcel to the west with frontage along Golfair Boulevard was used for the construction of the Brentwood Elementary School in 1915 which was expanded in 1928, 29 and again in 1934. The park was improved in 1932 with the construction of a bandstand and comfort station that was expanded in 1936 and 1937.  Designed by the prominent Jacksonville architect, Roy A. Benjamin and constructed by H.S. Braid, the distinctive Brentwood Bandstand and Comfort Station reflected the Neoclassical Style with is Doric columns, as well as classical frieze and pediment highlighted by bas-relief sculptures. The area has its first high school when Andrew Jackson Senior High School opened on October 3, 1927 at 3816 North Main Street, the same day as its architectural twin, Robert E. Lee Senior High School in Riverside.  Designed in the Italian Renaissance Style by the noted Jacksonville architectural partnership of Mark & Sheftall along with consulting architect, William b. Ittner of St. Louis, both schools, which cost one million a piece, were built to replace old Duval High School in Downtown Jacksonville.

Andrew Jackson High School in 1937

With the onset of the Great Depression and the growing demand for safe and sound affordable housing, the Florida legislature in 1937 passed enabling acts to allow cities and towns with a population over 5,000 to create housing authorities, which the City of Jacksonville did on June 17, 1937.  By 1938, the authority had acquired forty-acres of old dairy land south of the Brentwood Subdivision for the construction of 230 housing units for whites. Built immediately adjacent to an existing school and public park, the new Brentwood Housing Project was composed of one and two-story units constructed of concrete block walls and floors and originally covered with tile roofs.  Costing approximately $742,123, the units, which were first occupied on July 1, 1939, were constructed by the J.A. Jones Construction Company of Charlotte, North Carolina, from designs by Jacksonville architects, W. Kenyon Drake, Mellen C. Greeley, Joseph H. Bryson, and Clyde E. Harris.

Brentwood Housing Project site in 1941.

By October of 1939, the Jacksonville Housing Authority entered into a contract with the United States Housing Authority to construct 370 additional units at Brentwood, as well as administrative offices, assembly rooms, demonstration kitchen, and shop space.  The Brentwood Housing Project was in addition to the already existing Durkeeville Housing Project for African Americans, which was composed of 215 units on twenty acres completed in 1936 by the Housing Division of the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works.  These early housing projects such as Durkeeville, Brentwood and Blodgett Homes (1940) in Jacksonville, Liberty Square in Miami, and Griffin Park in Orlando, resulted from Federal housing programs initiated as part of the New Deal to address the problem of substandard housing and urban decay.
Full historical description here: http://northshorejax.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=56

Main Street Corridor

Originally called Pine Street, Main Street is the major road that connects Brentwood to neighboring communities to the north and south.  Today, it's the home of many commercial businesses and the elaborate Andrew Jackson Senior High School.

Andrew Jackson Senior High School opened on October 3, 1927 at 3816 North Main Street, the same day as its architectural twin, Robert E. Lee Senior High School in Riverside.  Designed in the Italian Renaissance Style by the noted Jacksonville architectural partnership of Mark & Sheftall along with consulting architect, William b. Ittner of St. Louis, both schools, which cost one million a piece, were built to replace old Duval High School in Downtown Jacksonville.

Mackoul Foods has been a fixture within the urban Jacksonville community since 1910.

In 1910, Abraham Mackoul began selling to local grocery stores and drug stores in downtown Jacksonville, Florida from a horse-drawn wagon. The company has grown from this one-man operation to a thriving regional distribution company serving hundreds of restaurants in Florida and South Georgia.

Mackoul Foods is a division of Mackoul Distributors, Inc., a privately held wholesale distribution company dedicated to serving customers throughout Florida and Georgia with top quality goods and services. At Mackoul Foods, we appreciate your business and trust in us. Our trademark of service is a prompt response to your food service needs, as well supporting your efforts toward customer satisfaction. Let's work together to provide the best possible service for your customers.

Mackoul Distributors, Inc. is a privately held wholesale distribution company dedicated to providing our customers with top quality goods and services.
Mackoul Distributors, Inc. began in 1910 as A. Mackoul Tobacco Company, selling tobacco and candy to grocery and drug stores in Jacksonville, Florida.

When the range of products and customer base widened to include much more than tobacco, the company name was changed to Mackoul Distributors, Incorporated.

Since that time, Mackoul's product selection has expanded to include a wide variety of retail and food service products. Mackoul's customers now include hundreds of sandwich shops, restaurants, convenience stores, gift shops, and many other customers in Florida, South Georgia, and Alabama.

Vulcan Materials Company

Vulcan's Florida Rock Division headquarters are located in Brentwood at 155 East 21st Street.

Vulcan Materials Company, based in Birmingham, Alabama, provides infrastructure materials that are required by the American economy. Vulcan is the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates, a major producer of other construction materials including asphalt and ready-mixed concrete and a leading producer of cement in Florida.

Division Profile

The Florida Rock Division is Florida's leading producer of construction aggregates (sand, gravel and crushed stone), ready mixed-concrete, concrete block, Portland cement, and pre-stressed concrete. The Florida Rock Division also manufactures calcium products and markets other building materials.

The Division's predecessor company, Florida Rock Industries, Inc., was originally founded in 1929 by Thompson S. Baker.

On November 16, 2007 Florida Rock Industries, Inc. was acquired by Vulcan Materials Company. The merger of these two companies created an even stronger and more geographically diversified organization with operations in key high-growth markets nationwide.  

The Florida Rock Division’s operations are concentrated in Florida and Southwestern Georgia. Other facilities include a quarry in the Bahamas and a stone quarry and sand and gravel plant, of which Vulcan is a joint owner, in New Brunswick, Canada. The Florida Rock Division's headquarters is located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Residential Architecture

Brentwood is a historic urban community with a dense collection of architecturally significant residential structures.

While Prairie School and Mediterranean Revival architectural styles dominate the urban core's more well known neighborhoods, Brentwood is dominated by Bungalow Architecture.

A bungalow is a type of single-story house that originated in India. The word derives from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from the Hindustani बंगला baṅglā, meaning "Bengali" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style". Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and thatched, and had a wide veranda.

In India and Pakistan, the term bungalow refers to any single-family unit (i.e., a house), as opposed to an apartment building, which is the norm for Indian and Pakistani middle-class city living. The Indian sub-continent usage is different from the North American usage in that it can be applied to large, multi-storied buildings which house a single extended family. In India and Pakistan, owning a bungalow is a highly significant status symbol.

The term is first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company, which do not sound like very grand lodgings. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style - essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses. In Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War. In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential house, normally detached, which is either single story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows ("one and a half stories"). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one storey, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the houses are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today.

Infill housing by the Metro North Community Development Corporation, Inc.

Metro North CDC is committed to building quality and beautiful homes that owners can be proud to call "home." MNCDC-built homes are priced reasonably for Metro North residents so that the dream of home ownership can be realized by all hardworking residents.

All homes are Energy Star-rated, which means that construction elements such as windows and appliances are energy-efficient and energy bills are less costly for residents.

Valuable Support from Community Partners

Metro North CDC, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of Jacksonville's Northside communities.   Metro North offers restored and newly-constructed homes to families of low to moderate income.   This is made possible through a number of community partnerships, enabling us to minimize construction costs and establishing a sense of community purpose and pride.

Leadership Strengths and Support

Metro North Community Development Corporation is a recognized community leader by a multitude of reputable and influential community organizations and residents. The organization has developed strong community support over the last seven years that has resulted in a high percentage of residents and businesses participating in the development of the neighborhood and town center plans. These plans have been accepted and incorporated into the city and county's planning processes. Metro North received a 98% approval by the City for the allocation of funds to support redevelopment of Brentwood. In addition, the Brentwood Redevelopment Group selected Metro North to lead the Town Center redevelopment project. Duval County Public Schools recognized Metro North's leadership strengths. Metro North has been an influential voice during the transition and planning process for the area's new public school and the new Youth Education Town ("YET") Center sponsored by the NFL and the Boys and Girls Club. Other key partnerships and links within the community include Metro North's strong association with LISC, (“Local Initiatives Support Corporation”). LISC contributed $100,000 in grants to Metro North for the development of affordable housing initiatives. LISC's contribution further enforces Metro North's strngeths within the community.

Woodbine Street was the path of the streetcar line that Brentwood originally developed around in the early 20th century. Although it has been 74 years since streetcar service stopped along this corridor, several older buildings along the street illustrate rail's ability to influence pedestrian friendly economic development.

Located at 24th & Perry Streets, this building was the original location of Fire Station No. 9.

Brentwood Park

The 16.69-acre Catherine Hester McNair Park, also known as Brentwood Park is located at 551 W. 25th Street. Created in 1929, it stretches from 21st to 28th Street and includes a Parthenon-like bandstand designed by Roy A. Benjamin in 1932.

Catherine Hester McNair Park, also known as Brentwood Park, is 16 acres in size and is located north of the 20th Street Expressway in Jacksonville, Florida. The park offers adult lighted baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, shuffleboard and a variety of playground equipment. Brentwood Park is also home to the Brentwood Park Bandstand, which is one of Jacksonville`s beautiful, historically significant and extremely rare examples of Neoclassical/Greek revival architecture. The bandstand serves as a community center and houses an independent non-profit program, Bridge the Gap, who shares program space with the Clara White Mission.

Brentwood Park is home to the NFL's Youth Education Town.

The Jacksonville NFL Youth Education Town will be dedicated at a news conference at 4 p.m. Thursday at Brentwood Park, its future location.

In dedicating the educational and recreational facility, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will be joined by Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, Jaguars co-owner and Jaguars Foundation Chairwoman/CEO Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars and other NFL players, the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, 2005 Miss America Deidre Downs and 100 local children.

The National Football League will donate $1 million toward the construction of the Youth Education Town. For more than a decade, the NFL has built the towns in Super Bowl host cities. The Youth Education Town program is aimed at positively impacting youth in at-risk neighborhoods.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Super Bowl XXIX MVP Steve Young will be on hand for the announcement and talk about his "Forever Young Zone." This initiative is part of a collaborative effort by the NFL, the Forever Young Foundation and Sun Microsystems to provide inner-city youth at the centers with access to computers, the Internet and the latest software technology.

The Jacksonville Host Committee is spearheading the local effort to match the $1 million from the NFL with an additional $2 million.

Jacksonville's Youth Education Town, 561 W. 25th St., will be constructed on 2 acres of the Catherine Hester McNair Park in the Brentwood neighborhood, just north of downtown Jacksonville.

The facility will be part of a revitalization and development project in that area that will include construction of more than 325 homes as part of the Jacksonville Housing Authority's $20 million Hope VI project, and 96 HabiJax (the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity) homes. The Youth Education Town will serve children from the Hope VI project as well as children from surrounding neighborhoods.

"The Youth Education Towns are rallying points for the entire community, bringing neighbors and businesses together to help youngsters in their communities strive for a better future," Tagliabue said. "We are proud the NFL YET will be a part of the HOPE VI community revitalization project, and commend the Jacksonville community for its dedication to youth development."

Brentwood Park Housing

Pearl Street

In addition to Main Street, Pearl Street is a major north-south corridor that directly connects Brentwood with Downtown to the south and the Trout River to the north.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) currently has plans to locate a major bus rapid transit corridor along a narrow residential street (Boulevard) two blocks west of Pearl Street.

A look at the urban landscape of Brentwood would suggest that Pearl Street would be a superior option for this proposed Bus Rapid Transit corridor, considering the width of the street and the existing historical development of commercial uses along the corridor.

Pearl Street Shopping Center

Norwood Avenue Commercial District

Along with Lem Turner Road and anchored by Gateway Town Center, Brentwood's Norwood Avenue also serves as the Northside's main centralized commercial district.

Gateway Town Center

Gateway Town Center is located in the heart of Jacksonville, Florida’s Northside Community. Visible from Interstate 95 and easily accessed from two exits, Gateway offers shoppers an opportunity to purchase a wide variety of goods from over 70 national and local retailers.

-Located on Interstate 95 with a traffic count of 118,500 cars a day and accessible from 2 exits

-More than 189,500 people, representing 75,000 families with an average income of $42,500 live within a 5-mile radius

-55 acres with plenty of parking

-700,000 square feet facility with more than 70 tenants

-Several Government and Community services bringing hundreds of residents to Gateway center daily.

The neighborhood of Brentwood is bounded by I-95 (West), CSX railroad tracks (North), Main Street (East) and MLK Parkway (South).

Article by Ennis Davis