The Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) and HabiJax hosted the "School's Out, Unique Urban Living is in!" benefit fundraiser Aug. 13 at The John Gorrie a condominium. The public, along with Mayor Alvin Brown, was invited to a guided historic tour through the newly renovated former junior high school. Metro Jacksonville tagged along for a better look into the building's rich past.
The event took place at the John Gorrie, on the corner of Stockton and College Streets, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $20, with proceeds going to RAP and HabiJax. It was a one-day-only invite for the public to get an inside peek of the restoration, promoting the condominiums mission of "Preserving the Past ... Building the Future." The tour consisted of six units and the outdoor courtyard, with detailed descriptions of room features and historical happenings from guides, as well as first-hand accounts from several attendees who once went to the school. The ticket price also included a "Taste of Riverside," freebies and discounts at nearby participating restaurants and shops, including Bold City Brewery, Carmine's Pie House, and Five Points Theatre.
Members of The Roar, the Jaguars cheerleaders, had a booth at the event.
The Antique Automobile Club of America had several antique cars from the school's era on display outside.
The transformation of the John Gorrie is the largest adaptive reuse project in the Riverside-Avondale area's history.
The tour began inside...
The lighting is replica of the historical kind that they called "schoolhouse lighting."
Little knobs were constructed on the banister to keep kids from sliding down it.
The radiator is only for show.
Several features were kept, situated as decor, as to retain the original design and construction of the building.
Replica paintings of the water fountains that use to stand in the school hallways.
Old-school chalkboards hang scattered through the hallways.
Back in the day, anywhere they could put decoration they did, for it was very popular and suited the mood of the nation at the time. People finally had access to labor-saving devices like vacuums, toasters. People were making money and spending money, with the term 'conspicuous consumption' greatly associated with the time period. But a lot of unfortunate historical events were still taking place around the school's conception in the 1920s, like Prohibition, with the Great Depression soon to follow. And let's not forget that segregation was still in full-effect; when the school opened its doors in 1923, it was for white students only.
Whenever they could maintain original features, like the wood floors, they did.
Attendees were asked to wear booties to preserve the wood floors and carpets throughout.
You can see in this photo, the original plaster floor base panels on the left, and new wood panels on the right. They replaced with wood the ones that were deteriorated beyond repair.
Exterior views include this strip on Stockton Street, College Street, and a private enclosed courtyard nestled in the middle of one building.
There are 68 units actively for sale, no two exactly alike.
Although out of view, this unit featured a balcony (in the upper forefront of this photo), that was part of the school's former performance auditorium. Seating was on the balcony level, with the ground-level wood floors the stage.
This unit featured beautiful "soaring ceilings."
The view through the palladian window could be seen up on the balcony level.
The auditorium stretched to the neighboring unit down the hall.
Mayor Alvin Brown and a small group were treated to an in-depth tour.
And led outside...
As you can see, there is still some ongoing construction.
Article and photos by Sarah Gojekian.