February has been a busy month for the Mandarin Museum and the Mandarin Community Club as the oldest existing one room schoolhouse was moved from a private location to its new home on the grounds of the Mandarin Historical Park. The schoolhouse was built in 1889 as part of a mission established by the Sisters of St Joseph to educate the freed blacks after the Civil War and was originally located on the property of the present St Josephs Catholic Church on Loretto Road.
One room Schoolhouse at the Mandarin Historical Park
The next step is restoration, and to date over 90% of the funds needed have been raised. When completed, the schoolhouse will be open to the public and will contain exhibits about the story of this schoolhouse and the education of African-Americans post Civil War to the mid 1950s.
We are grateful to our two Mandarin community organizations, City Councilman Matt Schellenberg and the City Of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department for this team effort. Look for updates in future articles. It’s not too late to be a part of this community project. Help is needed with cleaning, painting and minor repairs; and monetary donations are always appreciated. If interested, please call the Museum at (904) 268-0784.
Mandarin has a new landmark! Have you noticed these guys while driving around? More about the new Hoby’s market in a future blog.
The Maple Leaf was a luxury cruise vessel, commissioned into service as a Union cargo supply ship during the Civil War. On April 1, 1964 the ship struck a submarine torpedo in the St. Johns River and sank off the coast of Mandarin Point.
Steve Michaelis & Keith Holland outside the Mandarin Museum
Finding and retrieving the Maple Leaf had been a lifetime dream of Dr. Keith Holland, who with several friends founded St Johns Archaeological Expeditions Inc. After days of searching, the divers located the ship under 8 feet of silt and recovered over 3000 objects. They relinquished their rights to the artifacts to keep the collection intact.
Now, through the end of the year, you can view the collection at the Mandarin Museum at the Walter Jones Historical Park on Mandarin Road. Come on Sunday, August 17th or Saturday, August 30th between 11:00 and 4:00 to meet several of the divers. Hearing their stories about finding the ship, the difficulty of working with the silt and debris, and the steps necessary to preserve the artifacts, truly bring this exhibit to life!
The National Park Service has said the Maple Leaf is the “most important repository of Civil War artifacts ever found”, and the wreck has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
There are many exciting activities going on in the First Coast area this weekend. Here are two of my favorites:
Mandarin Art Festival, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00 on the Mandarin Community Club grounds at 12447 Mandarin Road
This year marks the 46th Mandarin Art festival, and I think I have attended almost all of them. Classical guitarist Don Thomas will be back this year playing acoustic tunes under the oak trees. Enjoy food, vendors from all over the country, family activities and great camaraderie!
There will also be Mandarin themed items available for purchase. Here is a picture of the t-shirt design by artist Julie Fetzer:
Manatees Rule by Julie Fetzer
St. Augustine Easter Parade, Sunday 3:00-4:00 downtown St. Augustine
What’s not to love about a parade in our nation’s oldest city! See bands, clowns, horses and, of course, the Easter Bunny. The parade begins at Mission Nombre de Dios and proceeds down San Marco Street and Cathedral Place.
Photo taken at Hagan Ace Hardware on San Jose Boulevard. Both Hagan Ace Hardware & Halls on San Jose Boulevard have allowed a few of our community cats to call their gardens “home”. THANK YOU!
In addition to sleeping kitties, you will find lots of beautiful plants for your spring garden and knowledgeable answers to your lawn and garden questions at your Mandarin Ace Store..
Two events in March honor two very special women who contributed to our communities. Come enjoy the festivities and (hopefully) our much-awaited spring weather while learning more about our area history.
Saturday, March 15th – Carrie Clark Day
Our neighbors across the river in Clay County have invited us to join them in the Carrie Clark Day festivities this year. The Clarks were one of the early families in Clay County and were very active in the community. Their home and surrounding land was later purchased by the town of Orange Park and now serves as a community park. Come enjoy music, games, crafts, food, and a tour of the Clark house.
Sunday, March 16th – Miss Aggie Day
Stop by the Old Mandarin Store and Post Office (corner of Mandarin Rd and Brady Rd) between 12:00 and 4:00 pm for a Moon Pie and RC Cola. Miss Agnes Jones served as Postmistress and owner of this historical building from 1911 to 1964. Each year, there is an award given to a contemporary woman honoring her contribution to our community. This year’s Miss Aggie Award will be presented to Linda Levin, Executive Director of ElderSource. The Ancient Oaks Arts and Farmers Market will also be open.
A Gingerbread Extravaganza was recently held at the former St Andrews Church, now home to the Jacksonville Historical Society. Here are some pictures of the event:
The meticulous detail given to each home was so impressive. One of my favorites was a rendition of the former home of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, created by the Mandarin Historical Society. This historical building is now the home of the Mandarin Community Club. Note the Mandarin orange trees in the yard!
Famous Amos has been serving Jacksonville residents delicious southern-style country cooking for over 40 years. Featuring breakfast all day, great lunch and dinner specials, and lots of fresh, locally-grown vegetables, it is a favorite in the Mandarin community.
My grilled tilapia with fresh veggies on a bed of rice was the best! Here is a picture:
If you go: There are six restaurants and a full service catering department. Most menu items are under $10. Locations, hours, and a complete menu are available on their website at FamousAmos.bz.
I took this photo from my back yard in Lake Mandarin. Jacksonville is a beautiful city, and I love my neighborhood!
Have you noticed the flurry of new construction on San Jose Boulevard lately? Here are some of the new businesses coming our way:
Dogtown USA – 11740 San Jose Boulevard. A luxury dog care facility is coming in the Mandarin South space vacated by Atlantic Furniture. We love our pets in Mandarin! Learn more at dogtownresorts.com.
FYE (For Your Eyes Only) Salon & Spa – 12107 San Jose Boulevard. Remember this building? It was formerly an African-American church. Kudos to FYE for preserving and beautifying this piece of Mandarin’s history! The Grand Opening was last weekend.
The Learning Center – 11945 San Jose Boulevard. Mandarin is a a family-oriented community, and there are lots of children! The Learning Center is located in the Cormorant Professional Center.
Dunkin Donuts – 11800 block of San Jose Boulevard. The old Scott Pharmacy building is down, and work was going on even on Labor Day for a new Dunkin Donuts. YUM! This is right on my way to the office at RE/MAX Specialists!
All of these businesses are within a mile of each other on San Jose Boulevard – a hopeful sign of the improving economy. Welcome to our Mandarin community!