5 Places That Existed Then That Are Better Now

January 28, 2015 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Here are five historic sites in Jacksonville that have gotten better with age.

3. J.P. Small Field

JP Small Field from the grandstand in 1939. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51998

The original facility was built in 1912 by Jospeph Durkee. However, ownership by the Durkee family would not last long, as control was turned over to Amander Barrs the same year. Barrs ordered the construction of a recreational field to be used by local teams, to be named Barrs Feild

Barrs ordered the construction of a recreational field to be used by local teams on the property. At first, the park was popular, being used by Jacksonville Atheltics and Jacksonville Scouts of the Florida State League, as well as MLA club teams like the Giants and the Dodgers. However, with no municipal park in the city, teams were using parks across the river more.

By 1926, the city had decided to purchase Barrs Field in hopes of amping it up and bringing professional baseball back to the area. In March of 1926, the city officially purchased the park and renamed it Durkee Field. Following this, the city entered negotiations to bring a league franchise to the city and thus, the Jacksonville Tars were born. The current brick and steel grandstand was completed in 1935 after the original facility was destroyed by fire.

Over the years, major teams and players would visit and play at Durkee Field. The field would also begin to be used by local high schools. It served as the center of professional baseball in Jacksonville until 1955. By 1970 however, the stadium was in disrepair and scheduled to be demolished. Local uproar and petitioning worked to save the park, and in 1980 it was renovated and renamed J.P. Small Field. Renovations of the new park included structural repairs, a new roof, press box and dugouts, paving the parking lot, a new playscape, and lighted fields. Today, J.P. Small Field is now the only historic park left in Jacksonville.

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