Preservation Prevails by Nicole Lopez

January 16, 2013 18 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

It has been over a year since a historic home in Springfield has been demolished, and the turn of the New Year marked 2012 as the first year since designation without a single demolition. That last statement needs to be repeated: 2012 is the first year without a single demolition in Springfield since 1987.

The passage of mothballing legislation in August of 2011 validated that a community can rally together and make positive change happen; again.  Springfield is a survivor, deeply rooted with passionate preservationists who over the years have come together time and time again to save the houses.  Each fight backed by different issues and people, but the end result, the same; a community tied together to preserve history for generations to come.

 To date, six historic homes have achieved mothball status, having fully completed the requirements of their mothball Certificate of Appropriateness (COAs). Four more homes are “pending” during the COA process to also achieve mothball status, each still in their window of time to complete the work for the mothball certificate.  All of these homes, many marred with city fines and condemnation, now have a new lease on life, each with owners who will over the course of the three-year mothball certificate, get the home closer to it’s certificate of occupancy.  

There are multiple reasons why mothballing is beneficial for a community.  Here are a few:  

• Mothballing stops rolling fines, allowing the owner to rehab their home in a reasonable amount of time and not have to battle with code enforcement.

• Mothballing protects the home from vandals and the elements of weather.

• Mothballing “turns the frog into a prince.” As the certificate requires upkeep, maintenance, and work towards the Certificate of Occupancy (CO), it is a win-win for surrounding homes and the entire community.  A neglected home is now a loved home and it looks a helluva lot better too.

• Mothballing encourages buyers to take a chance on a “scary” home thereby giving them a fair shot at rehab as the certificate provides time and not harassment to make it habitable.  

Click here for Mothballing information

Mothballing legislation provided hope and encouragement to owners who abandoned their homes.  While that may sound silly, it is not.  Backed by a neighborhood of passionate volunteers who care about their community, over a dozen homes where given away to PSOS and individuals so that they may be saved.  Dancy Terrace, the bungalow court at Main and 9th Streets, which was saved time and time again by neighbors who rallied behind its preservation, now overwhelmingly rests in the hands of Springfield owners.  14 of the 24 bungalows are in “protective custody.”  

In 2012, the community rallied around the Pearl Street house which prompted Councilmember Lumb to initiate rewriting legislation yet again to protect historic homes.  A 4th home was revitalized through the Make it Happen Preservation Project last summer, and the community came together and in less than 24 hours, raising over $1,000 to stabilize a neighbor’s home and prevent it’s emergency demolition (Kenneth’s home on E. 9th)  Springfield residents Pat and Alannah rehabbed a lovely rusticated block home on Walnut Court that succumbed to fire, it’s roof collapsing into the second floor.  A generous donation and expertise from Joe and Gloria at Glory Homes Inc. saved that house yet again.  The home is stabilized and working it’s way to it’s mothball certificate.  

Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” exudes Historic Springfield.  Even folks who no longer reside in the hood, keep Springfield and it’s people close to their heart.  Springfielder’s know it: we are Jacksonville’s best kept secret.  Hats off to a remarkable community, let’s keep saving the houses!    

By Nicole Lopez
Special thanks to Bill Killingsworth and the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission staff.

For more information, visit:

Preservation SOS was founded in 2010 as a Florida non-profit corporation. It was formed after a community meeting where residents, business owners, city officials, members of existing community groups, and friends came together to brainstorm what could be done to save our homes in the Springfield National Historic District. We are here, ready, willing, and able to do what we can to prevent further demolitions and make Springfield the best community in Jacksonville. Preservation SOS was instrumental in passing a mothball ordinance in 2012. During 2010 and into 2011, houses were demolished at a rate as high as one a month. For all of 2012, not a single house was demolished in Springfield, in part due to the vigilance and aggressive advocacy by Preservation SOS members. Up to today, 12 houses were donated to Preservation SOS. All where in imminent danger of demolition. Presservation SOS completed the mothball process at one house, pased it on to a new owner for restoration. Three other houses are in the final steps of mothballing. One house in particular, 436 Walnut Court, required extensive structural bracing after a fire ravaged the structure. A second burned out house has been cleaned and mothballed. Preservation SOS identified a new owner for it and is currently negotiating the transfer of the property to the new owner who agreed to restore it.

Preservation SOS is able to mobilize the neighborhood. During our summer “Make it Happen” initiatives, we regularly attract 50 or more volunteers to assist us. For our projects, we have been able to use pro-bono services from Architects, Structural Engineers, Attorneys, certified contractors and qualified craftsmen to assist at each step of the process.