Midtown Centre: The Nation's First Office Park

March 14, 2013 20 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Several innovative ideas envisioned and produced in Jacksonville have significantly altered the pattern of urban development in our country. Today, thousands of office parks line major highways in cities all across the nation. Unknown to most Jaxons, the nation's first suburban office park was developed in Jacksonville in 1957 and still exists today.

Believing that the quality of a community's cultural life will attract business, Koger also developed the home of the former Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, at his office park in 1967.

In Jacksonville, he was also widely known for his staunch support of the arts. He rescued the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra from financial ruin in 1969. He created the St. Johns River City Band, the city's official group. He put together what is widely considered a world-class art collection, particularly of Chinese ceramics. He also helped establish American music and jazz studies at the University of North Florida. He was former chairman of the Florida Arts Council, and was a driving force behind local public television station WJCT.

By 1980, he was one of Jacksonville's most influential people.

"He was a good person to Jacksonville," said Jake Godbold, mayor from 1979 to 1987.

He served on the boards of dozens of charitable educational and art institutions, including the Lincoln Center Chairman's Council in New York, the Kennedy Center Advisory Board in Washington, D.C., National Public Broadcasting, Sarasota's John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and as chairman of the American Symphony Orchestra League.

He endowed the University of North Florida's Department of American Music/Jazz and was founder and chairman of the St. John's River City Band. He served on the board of WJCT-TV in Jacksonville for 30 years, including 17 years as its chairman.

The next time you pass a large suburban office development in this country, just remember the concept is one of  Jacksonville's many gifts that has had a global impact on society. Midtown Centre Office Park is located at 3947 Boulevard Center Drive, just west of St. Nicholas.

Article by Ennis Davis

sources: http://www.knowitall.org/legacy/laureates/Ira M. Koger.html

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