State recommends Barnett, Laura Trio buildings as 'Historic Places'

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The state of Florida Office of Historic Preservation as recommended four prominent buildings in downtown Jacksonville to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Laura Street Trio, comprised of the Florida National Bank Building (1902), the Bisbee Building (1908) and Florida Life Building (1911), is largely considered the most significant group of historic buildings to be preserved in the Southeastern United States.

The National Register of Historic Places is an official listing of historically significant sites and properties throughout the country. It is maintained by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and includes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

The Bisbee was one of the country's first reinforced concrete high-rise structures, a revelation in early 1900's construction, while the Florida Life building was named Florida's first sky-scraper, epitomizing the marriage of the American Prairie and Sullivan architectural styles made famous by Jacksonville's most prominent historic architect Henry J. Klutho.

The Barnett Building, designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival architectural style by noted architects Mowbray and Uffinger of New York, was constructed in 1926 by James Stewart Company, also from New York City. The company also built the Helmsley Building (1928), the National Board of Fire Underwriters Building (1926), the Grand Central Palace Building (1911) and the Old Madison Square Gardens, all in New York City, as well as the Mitsui Bank in Tokyo.

"This is a huge step in the redevelopment of these important Jacksonville landmarks," said developer Steve Atkins, principal and managing director of SouthEast Group, which plans to renovate the properties.  "By placing these properties on the Register, we can qualify much of the preservation and rehabilitation costs for federal historic tax credits. This recommendation by the State and the subsequent programming greatly benefit the adaptive reuse effort."

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