This 10-acre park was established in 1994 and is noted as Jacksonville’s first historical park. It is located in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville, once a small town of about 1200 residents. Immerse yourself deep in this breathtaking picturesque landscape, laden with Oak trees and remnants of Orange groves draped with Spanish moss. The area is rich in Civil War and African American history. World renowned author and activist, Harriet Beecher Stowe resided in the area during the winters after writing her famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Mandarin Museum & Historic Society is housed on the park grounds. Self-guided tours of the historic buildings onsite are available with docent assistance on Saturdays. Group tours can be scheduled Monday thru Saturday, for up to 60 people. Touring the museum, you will learn about the Civil War from the Union Army perspective. Discover how the Maple Leaf, a leisure steam boat was converted into a military transport vessel and sunken as it returned from transporting Union Army troops in the St. Johns River by the Confederate Army. Dozens of artifacts recovered from the wreckage are now on display at the museum.
Another historic building housed at the park tells an important story for African Americans in Northeast Florida. After the war, educational opportunities opened for African American children and so the historic St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse came to be. It is now the last remaining one-room schoolhouse for blacks in Jacksonville. It was originally built in 1898.
Other remnants of history exist all throughout the park. Stories of the author and civil rights activist Harriet Beecher Stowe, can be seen through the remaining pieces of the stained-glass window created to imitate the view from her Winter home here in Jacksonville. Mandarin was home for many Civil War descendants. The family of Major Webb, Walter Jones and the Losco family all have history to be explored at Walter Jones Park.