The University of North Florida on Friday dedicated two buildings in honor of Arthur Chester Skinner Jr., Charles Brightman Skinner and Mary Virginia Skinner Jones, Jacksonville landowners and developers.
UNF's Building 3 will be renamed Skinner-Jones Hall South and Building 4 will become Skinner-Jones Hall North. The two buildings are scheduled to undergo renovations in the near future and house labs, classes and offices for various academic departments on campus.
University officials say its campus wouldn’t exist in its present location if it weren’t for the A.C. Skinner family’s donation and sale of approximately 500 acres for part of the UNF campus.
“The A. C. Skinner family’s generosity and commitment to the University of North Florida will forever benefit our community and its students for generations to come,” said UNF President John Delaney. “They had a vision and a desire to make Jacksonville and Northeast Florida a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
The story of the Skinner family in the area dates to the 1890s, when Richard Green Skinner settled in Jacksonville and accumulated around 16,000 acres of land in southeast Duval County to use for logging and turpentine production. After their father’s death, Richard Skinner’s seven sons managed the family land and business through the Great Depression while expanding their holdings.
One of those sons, A. Chester Skinner, eventually gave his portion of land to his three children; Arthur Chester Jr., Charles Brightman Skinner and Mary Virginia Skinner Jones. It was this land that the A. C. Skinner family used to facilitate the growth of Jacksonville through strategic donations of their land for the construction of J. Turner Butler Boulevard, Southside Boulevard and Interstate 295.
It was also this land, along with adjacent land owned by Alexander Brest and George Hodges, Sr., that was offered in 1968 to the selection committee charged with locating Florida’s newest university and on which UNF now resides.
In 1992, the family donated an additional 288 acres adjacent to the campus, providing the University land for continued growth.
In 2000, Arthur Chester Jr., Charles Brightman Skinner and Mary Virginia Skinner Jones sold 207 acres of land to Ben Carter Properties to develop the St. Johns Town Center. Family members still own 1,200 acres around the Town Center.