JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville community is being credited for rallying together to ensure a piece of River City history isn't demolished.
The local nonprofit, North Florida Land Trust, was able to raise enough money to buy the 1898 Spanish American War Fort from a private owner -- who had purchased the land the fort sits on at auction. That private owner, David Radcliffe, had planned to tear down the fort to build a home.
That's when North Florida Land Trust stepped in and made an agreement with Radcliffe: If $400,000 could be raised by November, Radcliffe would sell the land to the nonprofit.
"Many in Jacksonville really stepped up to help us raise the money necessary to preserve the Spanish-American War Fort, most notably the City of Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver Fund and an anonymous donor who matched up to $39,000 to get us to the purchase price," said Jim McCarthy, executive director of North Florida Land Trust. "We are proud of and grateful to our donors and for everyone in Jacksonville who realized the need to save the fort."
The papers have been signed, and now North Florida Land Trust is the official owner.
The fort, dating back 118 years, is tucked away atop St. Johns Bluff in East Arlington. Once a restoration project is complete, the organization will turn the fort over to the National Park Service to be added to the Fort Carolina National Memorial and become a public access park.
The artillery battery fort was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that still remains.