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Abandoned Florida: Jacksonville Jewish Center

The 2011 demolition of the Jacksonville Jewish Center main sanctuary at Third and Silver Streets. (Daniel Herbin)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The northeast corner of West 3rd and Silver streets serves as a silent example of Springfield's rise, fall and rebirth. Currently, a place where weeds congregate, 90 years ago it opened as the shining masterpiece of Jacksonville's Orthodox Jewish community.

With Springfield booming in growth and becoming the epicenter of the city's Jewish community, this spacious site overlooking Springfield Park and the downtown Jacksonville skyline was acquired by Congregation B'nai Isreal.

Chartered in 1905, B'nai Isreal had outgrown their 18-year-old Synagogue located in LaVilla at Duval and Jefferson streets. Upon completion of the new two-story sanctuary, the Congregation B’nai Israel assumed a new identity for itself as the Jacksonville Jewish Center.

As Springfield continued to expand, so did the Jacksonville Jewish Center. Expanding over the years to meet the needs of the growing congregation, by 1959, the religious campus included a chapel, library, social hall, school, playground, auditorium/gymnasium, banquet facility, bridal lounge, meeting rooms and offices.

Tampa-based GNP Development Partners, LLC. intends to transform the 2.13-acre property into a mixed-use multi-family development called Springfield Lofts. 

Acquiring the property for $100,000 in 2016, GNP plans to re-use the remaining buildings once occupied by the Jacksonville Jewish Center. The largest involves the adaptive reuse of an existing 40,300-square-foot building into 34 residential units and 5,400-square-feet of ground floor commercial space overlooking Klutho Park. 

A second structure, originally a dormitory facing Silver Street, will be converted into 16 multi-family housing units.

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