Jacksonville is the place to discover Florida’s rich history. French, Spanish, Native American and African American historic sites can be explored throughout the city. Some of the must-see sites include the Timucuan Preserve with 6,000 years of human history; Fort Caroline, the site of the first European settlement in the New World and our years as the “Winter Film Capital of the World.” Jacksonville is the real Old Florida.
Downtown’s History & Unique Architecture: In the late nineteenth century Jacksonville became a winter vacation destination for tourists from the North and Midwest. The bustling city had a major setback in 1901 after the Great Fire destroyed 146 city blocks virtually wiping it out. Creative and innovative designers looking to make a name for themselves like New York City’s Henry J. Klutho, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and M.H. Hubbard, flocked to Jacksonville after the fire for the opportunity to rebuild the city. The fire was the creative spark that filled our streets with buildings so unique they are worth a visit!
Historic Tours: Jacksonville has more than 6,000 years of history and Visit Jacksonville has made it easy for visitors to discover it all. The Visit Jacksonville app has dozens of historic tours that are easy to follow along both walking or by car. Explore Jacksonville’s impact on the Civil Rights Movement, discover the history of the city’s neighborhoods. Go where some of the first silent films were shot during Jacksonville’s movie-making era and check out the historic buildings of Downtown Jacksonville. All these tours can be found on our app or at one of our Visitor Centers.
Historic Homes: The Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods in Jacksonville have the most amount of historic homes of any neighborhood in the US making it one of the best destinations to view beautiful homes with unique architecture and design. During the early 1900’s Jacksonville welcomed some of the era’s best architects who designed rows and rows of mansions that are still standing today.
Restoration stories: Downtown Jacksonville’s iconic historic buildings have really stood the test of time, these stylish century-old structures fill our streets re-purposed into modern office headquarters, elegant restaurants, museums, and even our City Hall. The Barnett Bank: The 18-story has been standing since 1926. It remained the city’s tallest skyscraper until 1954. The building was abandoned for decades and it is currently undergoing a $90 million redevelopment to transform it into condos and a tech incubator for one of the local universities. The St. James Building: Designed by prominent architect Henry J. Klutho and opened in 1912, it is considered Klutho’s masterpiece after The Great Fire of 1901. The historic building now houses City Hall, yet it was originally designed for the Cohen Bros. Department Store. The Haydon Burns Library: Now the Jessie Ball duPont Center, the former library opened in November 1965. The 126,000-square-foot building underwent a major restoration, and now houses several Jacksonville nonprofits.
For more history go to: https://www.visitjacksonville.com/things-to-do/culture.