Urban Neighborhoods: Miramar

March 18, 2010 21 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Located off the beaten path just south of San Marco, Miramar is a neighborhood with a unique history and atmosphere of its own.

Red Bank Plantation House

The land on which this house is situated was designated as "Red Bank" by Spanish surveyors as early as 1793 when it was owned by Francisco Flora.  Six years later, William Craig gained title to the land.  From the 1820's until after the Civil War, the property was owned consecutively by three of Jacksonville's most prominent men: Isaiah D. Hart; Isaac Hendricks, pioneer settler of South Jacksonville, for whom Hendricks Avenue is named; and Albert Gallatin Philips, Duval County's sheriff from 1833-1839, who operated a plantation on the 450-acre Red Bank site.  First Philips built a frame house on the property, which burned a few years later.  In 1854, he began construction of the present house, building it with bricks hand-made from a vein of red clay on the plantation.  In 1873, Philips died, and much of the plantation land was sold.  

At that time, a "thriving little town" of sixty families had grown up around the railway station near Red Bank.  The settlement was named Philips and remained in existence until after World War II.  During the 1920's and 30's, the plantation house was turned into a restaurant, "The Candlewick Inn," and later became "Johnson's Chicken House."  It has continued as a private residence since 1937.  As the Colonial Manor subdivision was developed surrounding the house, its front door faced the wrong way.  The main entrance to the house was originally on the east side and featured a two-story columned portico.  The entrance was moved to the north facade facing Greenridge Road, and the present small porch was added.  The Red Bank Plantation House is the second oldest building in Jacksonville still being used as a residence.  Henry B. Philips, son of the builder of Red Bank Plantation, was a prominent local judge for whom Philips Highway (often misspelled with two L's) was named.
Source: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, Page 257

Colonial Manor Lake Park

Colonial Manor Lake Park is a .08-acre passive park. The site is a grassy strip located along the lake on San Jose Boulevard between Northwood and Mapleton Roads. The site has recently been upgraded to provide benches, trash cans, signs, landscaping and parking.

Oriental Gardens

In 1925, George W. Clark, a Riverside resident, began planting overflow from his botanical collection on a vacant bluff overlooking the St. Johns River.  Eventually, this 18 acre private estate would open to the public.  From 1937 to 1954, Oriental Gardens became Jacksonville's major attraction.

During this period, the gardens featured hourly concerts, 500 year old Live Oaks and 100 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants, shrubs and trees.  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  In 1954, the private estate was purchased by State Investment Company and carved into 33 single family home sites.

River Oaks Park

River Oaks Park is situated along Craig Creek, in the San Marco section of Jacksonville. William Craig established a large plantation in the area around 1800. Developers of the River Oaks and the Brookwood Terrace subdivisions donated most of the park property to the City between 1935 and 1937. One block south of the park, lovely Oriental Gardens opened in 1937. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 to provide public service jobs for the unemployed during the Great Depression, supplied the labor and most of the funding to create the park, which opened in 1940. Portions of the grounds form a flood plain, with areas of natural wetlands. Groups such as Greenscape of Jax and the Audubon Society have worked to enhance the park, whose stately trees and lawn provide a natural landscape and visual enjoyment for the residents and passing pedestrians and motorists.

River Oaks Park was featured in the recently released Southeast Jacksonville Visioning Plan, as an example of an existing public space that could be greatly enhanced and better utilized.

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