The Jaxson

Jacksonville by Neighborhood => Downtown => Topic started by: Metro Jacksonville on March 23, 2016, 03:00:04 AM

Title: The Lost Theatres of LaVilla
Post by: Metro Jacksonville on March 23, 2016, 03:00:04 AM
The Lost Theatres of LaVilla

( of Pythias Historic-L.jpg)

During the formative years of Jazz and Blues in America’s late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jacksonville was a major performance venue in this part of the country. Unfortunately, not much is known by the majority of our population because much of this history resides exclusively on the black side of town during the height of the Jim Crow era. Much of this scene took place in the area downtown know as “LaVilla.” With this in mind, here's a brief a look at a few “lost theaters” of LaVilla.

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Title: Re: The Lost Theatres of LaVilla
Post by: spuwho on March 23, 2016, 09:58:59 AM
Common theme.

The Strand was torn down after a failed lease renewal and subsequent fire.

This was in 1969.

Seems the same process still occurs today.

I would be curious to know how many buildings since 1946 followed the same path to oblivion.
Title: Re: The Lost Theatres of LaVilla
Post by: thelakelander on March 23, 2016, 11:57:21 AM
I don't think there is much that could have been done to keep the majority of these old theatres open. Segregation pretty much killed black commercial strips like this all across the country. While the Great Black Way may have been vibrant for blacks during Jim Crow, the Great White Way on Forsyth Street and the new theaters in places like Cedar Hills and Arlington were still considered superior. Once that black dollar could be legally spent in these other places, it was only a matter of time before strips like Ashley went down the tubes. Heck, even half of the streets in those days were still not paved in our working class minority neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, we never gave these culturally rich structures a chance at a second life. Like a broken record, locally we've demolished most before the cycle of interest, restoration and redevelopment has returned. That is what separates much of our core today from what has taken place in cities like New Orleans, San Francisco, Savannah, Charleston and even St. Augustine.

I'm in Mexico City right now. They don't appear to demolish much here, except in the case of redevelopment. Some abandoned buildings look beyond repair and worse than anything I've seen in Jax that has been called a safety hazard. Yet, when many of these 16th-19th century buildings are restored, they create a landscape that can't be replicated.



It's too late for much of LaVilla but Jax should cherish what remains of its historic building stock.