Historian: Jacksonville building destroyed in massive fire a ‘tragedy’

VIDEO: There have been multiple enforcement issues at the former Moulton Kyle Funeral Home.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Intense flames could be seen from blocks away as a fire tore through a historic building over the weekend in Downtown Jacksonville.

News4Jax has learned this wasn’t the first fire reported at the abandoned Moulton and Kyle Funeral Home and that law enforcement had been called to the address in the past. The city confirmed 19 cases involving law enforcement over the last 10 years. Those cases include:

  • Nuisance (11)
  • Nuisance board up (2)
  • Nuisance: Graffiti (1)
  • Commercial (2)
  • Junk Vehicle (1)
  • Unsafe Structure (2)

In one hour, the building, which held onto 107 years of history, was destroyed Saturday. Over 140 firemen and several engines were called in to fight the fire well into the night.

Before the fire over the weekend, a fire was sparked at the building in February 2019. The abandoned building is often broken into by the homeless, looking for a place to stay warm during the winter months or sleep throughout the year.

City records show Robert J. Peeples, of Peeples Family Funeral Homes, owns the Union Street property. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dr. Wayne Wood, with the Jacksonville Historical Society, said the city has lost a “jewel,” calling the fire a tragedy.

“This was one of Jacksonville’s treasured downtown landmarks,” Wood said. “It’s a tragedy because there are so few great historic landmarks left in Downtown Jacksonville after the Great Fire (of 1901).”

The building was designed by Leroy Sheftall and Earl Mark, who were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright American architecture design, and it was built by Henry Klutho.

“The Moulton and Kyle funeral home was a direct derivative of Jacksonville’s oldest business, a funeral home founded in the 1850s by Calvin Oak,” Wood said.

The city confirmed the building was deemed condemned prior to the fire in June 2020 for a partial roof collapse. The city says the property owner will be taking action to demolish the structure and that he has been in contact with them.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal.

Intense flames could be seen from blocks away as a fire tore through a historic building over the weekend in Downtown Jacksonville.

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