LaVilla: The Whetstonian’s Last Days?

February 3, 2017 10 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

This article by Dr. Tim Gilmore of highlights what may be the last days of LaVilla's intriguing Whetstonian.

LaVilla: Whetstonian’s Last Days? / The Mural of Walter Whetstone’s Life

Walter Whetstone doesn’t remember me. He’s had two strokes since our last substantial conversation. I first wrote about Walter and his masterpiece of Outsider Art called the Whetstonian four years ago. In the next couple years, I visited him maybe a dozen times.

He’d called his half-block bricolage on Jefferson Street from State to Union Streets in Northern LaVilla the Whetstonian, because, as he explained, “If Smithson can have his Smithsonian, then Whetstone can have the Whetstonian.”

On one visit, Walter wore a “Whetstone Chocolates” ball cap. He said he’d visited the factory in St. Augustine and told them, “You’re Whetstone Chocolate, and I’m Chocolate Whetstone.”

Dorothy Whetstone does most of the talking these days. Dot and Walter sit next to each other at the large oak table inside the Whetstonian. She speaks fondly of how they first met at the Jefferson Street Pool just up the street 59 years ago. Walter wore a fedora and a multicolored suit. Dot wore a two-piece bathing suit with a big bow on the back and high heels. After they started dating, he’d pick her up at her place in rural Dinsmore-Pickett, almost as far north as Callahan, in his shiny green Buick, which Dot could hear from the highway.

Dorothy and Walter Whetstone

As Dot speaks, Walter mostly stares at the table. The Whetstones now want to sell much of Walter’s lifelong collections. There’s talk of their son turning the space into a restaurant. Wayne Wood, founder of Riverside Avondale Preservation, and Maura Wolfson-Foster, a close family friend and photographer who published a photography collection called The Whetstonian in 2012, say they’d love to see the Whetstonian preserved.

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Article by Tim Gilmore of
Jax Psycho Geo. Tim Gilmore is the author of Devil in the Baptist Church: Bob Gray's Unholy Trinity (2016), Central Georgia Schizophrenia (2016), The Mad Atlas of Virginia King (2015), Ghost Story / Love Song (2015), In Search of Eartha White (2014), The Ocean Highway at Night (2014), Stalking Ottis Toole: A Southern Gothic (2013), Doors in the Light and the Water: The Life and Collected Work of Empty Boat (2013), This Kind of City: Ghost Stories and Psychological Landscapes (2012) and Ghost Compost: Strange Little Stories, illustrated by Nick Dunkenstein (2013). He is the creator of Jax Psycho Geo ( His two volumes of poetry are Horoscopes for Goblins: Poems, 2006-2009 and Flights of Crows: Poems, 2002-2006. His audio poetry album Waiting in the Lost Rooms is available at He teaches at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He is the organizer of the Jax by Jax literary arts festival.