Stop 21-Mandarin School House

Mandarin Museum Walter Jones Homestead


The building was built for the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1898 and was used at the educational complex where St. Joseph Catholic Church stands on Loretto Rd.

In 1866, Bishop Augustin Verot, went to his hometown, LePuy, France and recruited 8 women from the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, whose foundation was in LePuy. In his appeal to them he said, “It is my wish that you understand clearly and perfectly, that it is for the care of the Negroes, and for them only, that I am seeking Sisters of your order for my Diocese.” Bishop Verot was first appointed as Bishop of Florida (1858) and later served as Bishop of Savannah (1861) and then Bishop of St. Augustine (1870). He is buried in Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine.

The eight Sisters who were selected and took the call boarded a ship and left France on August 2, 1866. They made their way to St. Augustine where they lived, learned English and started teaching in St. Augustine. Eventually they were teaching in St. Augustine, Mandarin, Palatka, Fernandina and Savannah and their order grew in America.

Two Sisters were assigned to Mandarin in 1868, but fell ill and left within a few months – they came back in 1873. They taught black and white children, but not at the same time – in a wooden building that was also used as a sanctuary. Sister Julie Roussel served in Mandarin several times. Sister Julie wrote in her letters in 1868: that there were 27 black children and 51 white. Her remarks on their behavior at the Mandarin school was “What satisfaction these poor children bring us, the blacks as much as the whites! How well behaved they are! We had seen those in St. Augustine to be so troublesome in the beginning that we expected to find those here quite uncontrollable, and on the contrary, I have never seen more quiet children, more obedient, and more desirous of learning; it is truly a pleasure to teach them.” Sister Julie is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Mandarin. Her stone says “Mother Julia” and is a large cross, but is with many small white crosses of other Sisters (on right side of cemetery, along the path).

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society partnered with Councilman Matt Schellenberg, the Mandarin Community Club and the City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department to save the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in Duval County and relocate it to Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin. The schoolhouse was built in 1898 as part of a mission established by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Mandarin to educate freed Blacks after the Civil War. The building was originally located on the property of the present day St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Open Saturdays, 9am-4pm and for scheduled tours

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