The Lost Skyscrapers of Jacksonville

February 9, 2016 12 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look back at the six downtown highrises (10 stories and above) that no longer exist.

2. Heard National Bank Building - 15 floors

The Heard National Bank Building. Image courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

In the 10 years following the Great Fire of 1901, Jacksonville's population increased by 103%, prompting Arcadia-based capitalist John Joseph Heard to relocate and take advantage of the city's flourishing economy. In 1911, Heard announced his intentions to build a skyscraper in downtown Jacksonville to house his Heard National Bank at the southwest corner of Forsyth and Laura Streets.

When the Heard National Bank building was completed in 1913 at the cost of $1 million, it was the tallest building south of Atlanta. However, Jacksonville was not kind to Heard. During the project's construction, Heard was extorted by Duval County Judge John Dodge to keep his investment from being made worthless. If that wasn't enough trouble, his bank went bankrupt and closed for good in 1917. Heard then used his personal fortune to repay 100% of the debt owed to each depositor. When it was all said and done, the Heard National Bank printed $2,799,360 dollars worth of national currency between 1912 and 1917.

The Heard National Bank Building's entrance was left to serve as an entrance to a surface parking lot, after the building was demolished by Barnett Bank in 1981.  Image courtesy of the Jacksonville Historic Commission.

After the closure of the Heard National Bank, the building was rebranded the Graham Building as was the city's tallest structure until the completion of the Barnett National Bank Building in 1926. In 1981, it was demolished along with the Ritz-Woller building for a parking lot. All that was preserved was the building's monumental columns that once marked its main Forsyth Street entrance. In 1988, the columns were relocated in preparation of the 42-story, $100 million Barnett Center (now Bank of America Tower). The Heard's columns are now located inside and in front of the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

One of the Heard National Bank Building's monumental entry columns still in existence on Water Street.

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