Hogan’s Creek Greenway

One of my pet projects involves raising awareness of the historic parks that border Hogan’s Creek, a long neglected waterway that separates Springfield from downtown Jacksonville.   Confederate Park sits between Market and Hubbard and Main Streets.  Just west of Main is Waterworks Park, home of JEA (Jacksonville’s electric authority).  Klutho Park adjoins Waterworks Park and runs almost all the way to 8th Street and Schell Park, which sits across from the University of Florida’s massive Shands hospital complex.

The City of Jacksonville has neglected Springfield’s parks for at least the past fifty years, and the result is tragic.  More on that later.

I collect postcards and have accumulated a number of views of Springfield’s parks in their prime.  Here is one of my favorites, showing children playing in Dignan Park.  Dignan was the original name of Confederate Park and it included Jacksonville’s first supervised children’s playground.  The park received its new name after tens of thousands of veterans of the Civil War held a reunion there in 1917.

Children Playing in Dignan Park

Too Much Stuff – and Rotten Wood

The new fascia board is up and painted and looks beautiful. While he was up on his new scaffolding, Steve got a closer look at the big shed dormer in the attic and discovered that all of the siding on it was rotten, too. So he climbed up on the roof, ripped off the old siding and headed back to carolina lumber for supplies. Primed and installed the new siding and while he was at it removed the windows which he plans to reinstall so that they will open and let fresh air into the attic.

Glad that man likes to work. This week he also built shelves in three different closets and fixed a windowsill that the previous owner’s remodeling contractors had installed upside down and backwards.

I’ve been moving boxes and trying to get my new office set up. I am seriously considering giving away the rest of my belongings so I don’t need to pack anything else. Too much stuff.

I have sworn to several non-believing neighbors that I will be sleeping at Third and Hubbard this Saturday night. My incentive is that we won’t have to drive all of the way to San Marco after Saturday night’s sure to be fabulous Springfield Animal Care and Rescue Club “Gindig” party.

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Miss Alma’s Duplex

We’ll be moving into 1244 Hubbard soon, once we complete a few final projects. 

I’m referring to 1244 Hubbard as Miss Alma’s Duplex for now, until I think of something better.  Miss Alma was Alma McDonald, older sister of Miriam Kate “Queenie” McDonald.  Queenie married Elwell’s youngest son and namesake, D.E. Maxwell Jr., in 1910 and lived with her three daughters at 1252 Hubbard and then – after D.E. Jr. died young of cancer – around the corner on East 3rd street for many years.  Queenie supported herself as a very successful real estate investor after she was widowed.  Alma followed Queenie and their oldest sister Lillian McDonald Murchison to Jacksonville from their hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.  Alma never married but lived a long life, was a proud alumni of her North Carolina Woman’s College, and taught Sunday School at First Baptist Church downtown.  She roomed with a family at 1244 Hubbard for a while.  More on the McDonald girls later.

Steve has removed all of the rotten fascia board (36 feet above ground, teetering on a walkboard suspended between two extension ladders, while our neighbors shuddered – I couldn’t watch). Now that he has acquired some used scaffolding (much to the neighbors and my relief) he’s ready to install the new beadboard milled by our fave, Carolina Lumber. 

Next I hope I can convince him to build new back porch railings – I want them to look exactly like the ones at poor old empty Brewster Hospital near Lavilla School of the Arts.  I ooh and aah over the railings and wish I had the $2 million COJ spent renovating that building every day when I drive Hadlebop to school. I could spend it, but I could make it go a lot farther than the City did!

Don, our favorite housepainter and resident of the upstairs of Mrs. Maxwell’s Duplex, has been painting the windows and they are looking good.  I have so much painting to do at Third and Hubbard that he will probably never pay rent again!

Earlier this week we started cleaning up the backyard.  We removed the skeleton of the heatpump behind Mrs. Maxwell’s Duplex (thank you, copper thieves!) and dug out a large metal post that was anchored with so much concrete that we are still puzzling over what it might have been designed to support.  We removed the chain link fence that was left on the property line when our predecessors installed the very ugly and cheaply made privacy fence that we’ll be replacing soon.  We discovered a treasure stacked between the two fences:  dozens of ancient handmade bricks.  They’ll make a nice walkway between 1244 and 1252 Hubbard.

Now we’re left with a huge concrete slab, weeds, a not very attractive view of the back of Mrs. Maxwell’s, and the materials we’ve been accumulating for Liam’s Gnome Grotto.  I need a tree – a big tree that will give us some shade but that won’t grow too big for our tiny space.  Better call the Yardchick!

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Making Progress Towards 1913

This weekend we completed a small project at Elwell’s house, replacing the broken hexagonal pavers in the front walkway with whole pavers recovered from an abandoned city sidewalk.  We also cleaned up the yard a little and started a flower bed to brighten up our white elephant

Third Street Looking East from Hubbard - 1913


Here’s a postcard from about 1913 that offers a glimpse of Elwell’s place, just after its conversion to a duplex, and a pretty good look at Sarah Maxwell’s duplex next door.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 11:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Miss Alma’s Duplex

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Maxwell’s Corner

In 1897 Captain David Elwell Maxwell and his wife Sarah Elizabeth  moved with their surviving children from Fernandina to Jacksonville, Florida where Captain Maxwell was operating the Florida Central and Peninsular Railway.  The Maxwell family’s new home was designed in the Queen Anne style and sat on a large corner lot in the city’s most fashionable neighborhood, Springfield.

In 2010 I purchased Captain Maxwell’s home, along with two others that were built on its original site soon after his death in 1908. Captain Maxwell’s descendants continued to live on the corner until the 1940s, when his magnificent residence was leased by the United States government and converted to six one bedroom apartments for war workers.  That apartment building and the two duplexes built by Maxwell’s widow and children later became notorious rooming houses during years when the once elegant Springfield neighborhood fell into a decades long decline.

The real estate boom of the early 21st century helped bring Springfield back from the dark days when its homes and streets were full of drugs and prostitution.  Captain Maxwell’s house and the duplexes were purchased by a group of inexperienced real estate investors who beautifully renovated one duplex, converting it to a four bedroom, four bath single family residence.  Unfortunately, restoration was completed just as the market crashed and the house was eventually deeded to the lender that financed its acquisition and improvements.  I purchased my new home from the bank in February of 2010 and my obsession with the Maxwell family and adventure in Springfield began.

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment