It’ll be a while before the Jacksonville Fire Museum & USS Orleck open to the public

News4JAX gets a look at work that has to be done before the ship moves to its permanent home nearby

Downtown has a different look now that the Jacksonville Fire Museum and the USS Orleck are along the St. Johns River, but it’s going to be a while before either open to the public.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Downtown has a different look now that the Jacksonville Fire Museum and the USS Orleck are along the St. Johns River, but it’s going to be a while before either open to the public.

It took all weekend to move the Jacksonville Fire Museum from Metropolitan Park to in front of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters. As of early Monday evening, the building was finally at its new, permanent home.

Jay Boyles of Hygema, the company in charge of the move, said “everything went as expected” but the building won’t be lowered into place anytime soon.

“It’s going to take a few months until it’s totally complete,” Boyles said.

Arthur Resler watched the move from his bike. He said he had never seen anything like that in person and said this is going to help change downtown.

“I am hoping it will bring some more life to downtown. I mean, the loss of the Landing took a life away from downtown,” Resler said.

Downtown has a different look now that the Jacksonville Fire Museum and the USS Orleck are along the St. Johns River, but it’s going to be a while before either open to the public.

It could take over a year before the museum is actually ready to reopen. It has been closed for six years at its old site because it needed to be repaired.

There are many artifacts of Jacksonville’s fire history that will be displayed again now that the museum has moved back near the site where it was originally built in 1902 after the Great Fire in Jacksonville.

The area will be the museum district in Jacksonville.

RELATED: USS Orleck arrives at temporary home on Jacksonville’s Northbank

Another museum that will be in the area is the USS Orleck, which is now temporarily docked near the Main Street Bridge.

The museum warship is not open to the public. That won’t happen until it moves to its permanent home a short distance away.

The Orleck is drawing a lot of attention downtown. People with the Jacksonville Naval Museum said they could have sold over 300 tickets over the weekend if it had been open. People were standing outside just wanting to get a glimpse inside -- something News4JAX was able to do Monday.

The USS Orleck will be the centerpiece of Jacksonville’s Naval Museum.

The Orleck has been a museum before but will undergo some cleanup and changes in Jacksonville before it opens as the city’s Naval Museum.

“Clean up the best we can, do some painting, of course,” said Craig Bernat of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association

Bernat explained more of what will be displayed.

“The launcher, it carried eight torpedoes that were rocket-assisted to hit the subs that were out further over the horizon,” Bernat said.

The pilothouse is where the ship would be steered. It’s also where the captain could be found.

“The helm that is right here is actually where they would steer the ship. He takes orders from the captain, will tell him to either use the rudders or the compass headings, which way to go,” Bernant pointed out.

The cost of the move and improvements is over $2 million.

June is when it’s hoped the Orleck will open as the Jacksonville Naval Museum at its permanent site down the river.

The museum is looking for volunteers to help with the painting and cleaning, and it is always hoping for donations. Information about how to volunteer and donate can be found at jaxnavalmuseum.org.

One donation it is looking for is a huge transformer from a power or construction company that could provide power while work to restore the ship can be completed.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.