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Jacksonville Historical Society pushes to revitalize buildings of past

Most buildings in need of care date back to early 1900s or before

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Historical Society is raising awareness of 12 historical buildings around town in need of care, three of which are new to the annual list.

Most of these troubled buildings date back to the early 1900s, one even back to 1895.

Annie Lytle School was built in 1918 and closed in 1960. It was officially condemned in 1971 and is now abandoned. It's old but beautiful. It was almost demolished, but people put up a fight so it was kept intact.

It's now considered an endangered historical building, which means it's at risk of being demolished because it's unused and in bad shape. It's neighbor Jasmyn, a nonprofit organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people in Jacksonville, tells us what they wish would happen with the property.

"It clearly was a beautiful building at one time. It still has some interesting bones but the condition it's in right now is horrible, and so we at Jasmyn have a whole campus for young people, so we would like to see some kind of more positive development that supports the community. Having it fall apart is just a hazard and disappointment. We happen to appreciate old buildings. Our building is over 100 years old and (we) know how valuable that is to the community," said Cindy Watson of Jasmyn.

Another to make the list again is Fire Station No. 5, off Riverside Avenue. It was built in 1910. The old fire station is now vacant and in desperate need of repair.

Fire Station No. 5 operated continuously for 111 years, housing five horses and 14 men.

It was built shortly after the Great Fire of Jacksonville in 1901 and was a part of the city's revitalization at the time.

Workers next door to the old fire station said they would love to see it brought back to life.

"It could be better," said Vince Woodward, who works nearby. "It could deal with a lick of paint, it's a beautiful historic building and we def need more infrastructure around here and my building doesn't have a cafeteria and you have these down here and some along the river, but this would be ideal. To make it into a restaurant? Yea, something like that. It would be really atmospheric and neat even if it was just a coffee shop."

The Historical Society would like to see these buildings back in good care and also turned into something the community can use.

As far as what can be done, the society is hoping the community will step up and make efforts to restore and reuse these buildings.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.