29 Nov 2016

The Ribault Drive-in Theatre, 1950′s

9:42H

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“The building of a Drive-In Theatre. I guess that’s a thing of the past. It was built in the late 1950’s”  LS

It took a bit of legwork to find any information on the Ribault Drive-In but I finally found one great source. In Aug 11, 1977 Jacksonville Journal Staff Writer Nancy McAlister had the job of reviewing and critiquing the 10 drive-in theaters in Jacksonville, Florida. It was no doubt the highlight of her journalism career. The drive-In theaters in the story were the Blanding, Fox Twin on Normandy Blvd., Lake Forest on Rowe Avenue, Main Street, Midway on Beach Blvd., Pine on Eastport Road, Playtime on Blanding Blvd., Ribault on Soutel Drive, Southside on Philips Highway and the University on University Blvd. North.

The following is the review of the Ribault Drive-In,

Type of Movies: Predominantly R

Admission: $2.00 per person, children under 11 Free.

Playground: Yes.

Concession Stand: Centrally located building with large patio which needs additional lighting. Interior quite small made even worse by the pinball machines that have been squeezed in.

Food: Small selection but reasonably priced. Plain popcorn is 30 cents, buttered is 50 cents. A hot dog is 50 cents, a hamburger 60 cents and drinks are 35 and 50 cents.

Rest Rooms: Among the worst. No toilet paper in stalls and paper all over the floor and in toilets. Dirty.

General Condition: Lighting is poor and better maintenance is needed. Also, during our visit the second movie began and soon after cut off, with a voice coming over the loud speaker telling patrons to proceed to the box office for a refund. No explanation was given.

The theatre is listed as having 1 screen and a 400 car capacity. It was located at 4819 Soutel Drive in Jacksonville.  At some point in the late 1970′s the Ribault Drive-In Theatre closed. It reopened in 1981 showing R rated movies on the weekends but that was short lived. Looking at current photographs of the area the surrounding woods have all been replaced by houses and there has been some commercial building on the drive-in property but you can still see the faint outlines of the parking areas that are now overgrown with trees.

Unrelated but interesting, there was also a legal case involving the City of Jacksonville and drive-in theaters that went before the Supreme Court in the 1970’s. The manager of the University Drive-In was charged with a violation of the city ordinance that banned the showing of movies revealing bare breasts and buttocks in drive-in theaters which can be seen from the street. The manager was charged with showing the movie “Class of ’74” which included pictures of female buttocks and bare breasts. The charge said the anatomical scenes were visible from the Resurrection Catholic Church near the drive-in. Jacksonville’s ordinance was found to be unconstitutional.

 

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25 Nov 2016

Hemming Park 1950′s

10:25H

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“A closeup of Hemming Park with the St. James Building (Cohen Brothers) in upper center. They were just building the Woolworth Store. About 1953.”  LS

Looking down on the heart of downtown Jacksonville with Hemming Park in one of it’s earlier incarnations with paver paths, grass and a bandshell. The St. James Building was still a department store. The cleared lot to the left was the early phase of construction for the downtown Woolworth’s building which opened in 1955. Many of the buildings in this photograph still exist but have been repurposed over the years such as the St. James Building which after years of sitting empty was renovated into Jacksonville’s City Hall building. The Woolworth’s was demolished and became the site of the current Federal Courthouse.

 

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15 Nov 2016

Montgomery Ward Grand Opening

10:48H

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“Here is the opening of the new Wards Store at Normandy Mall. It was a high school band playing but I don’t remember which.” LS

It must have been quite the big deal. The Montgomery Ward opening was preceded by Jacksonville’s first three malls, the Gateway Center in 1958, the Philips Highway Plaza in 1960 and the Roosevelt Square in 1961. The information that I have found varies but the 107,400 square foot Montgomery Ward appears to have opened around 1964 as a stand-alone store followed by the fully enclosed Normandy Mall opening a number of years later.  Montgomery Ward changed it’s name to Jefferson Ward in 1980 then back to Montgomery Ward in 1986, closing for good in 1988. In 1996 the former Ward space was purchased and renovated into a Winn-Dixie Marketplace with storefronts for eight businesses. The new shopping center was renamed the Normandy Village.

 

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08 Nov 2016

High Above Imeson Airport, 1950′s

10:51H

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A 1950’s vintage aerial of the old Jacksonville – Thomas Cole Imeson Municipal Airport just off Main Street on Jacksonville’s Northside. It originally opened as Jacksonville Municipal Airport Number One in 1927 and the first airport had just two runways, one grass and one described as “cinder and shell”. In the 1920’s the concept of commercial air travel was still a novelty so to generate publicity, Charles Lindberg flying the Spirit of St. Louis, less than five months after his first solo non-stop transatlantic flight from Long Island New York to Paris, France, landed at the still under construction airport for the dedication ceremony.

The Army Air Corps and then various other branches of the service used the airfield from 1941 through the end of World War II to fly anti-submarine aircraft off the Atlantic Coast in search of German submarines. After the war the airport resumed commercial operations, the main terminal complex can be seen in the bottom center of this photograph with the circular driveway. The Florida Air National Guard’s 159th. Fighter Squadron was also based there. As commercial aircraft transitioned from propeller driven planes to jets, longer runways were needed so In 1968 Jacksonville International Airport was opened and in 1970 the land was purchased and redeveloped as Imeson International Industrial Park. Some of the old runways remain among the commercial buildings that now occupy the property.

 

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14 Sep 2016

First Federal Savings And Loan, 1955

14:22H

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“First Federal Savings and Loan on 331 West Forsyth St.  This was a very well built building and nice looking. 1955.”  LS

One of the few remaining art deco buildings left in Jacksonville, the structure was completed in 1941 and initially housed the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Jacksonville as well as the Tucker Brothers Companies that provided Real Estate, Mortgages, Rentals and Insurance. It went on to be the home of the USO headquarters and servicemen’s recreation center, Club 331, Happy Chef and Buck’s Bakery and Barbecue and was eyed as a downtown location for Sweet Pete’s, but had been sitting empty until purchased in 2016 to operate as The Bank BBQ & Bakery.

 

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01 Sep 2016

Ribault Monument

11:45H

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“The Ribault Monument, the highest point in Duval County. It’s near Fort Caroline Road and on a clear day you can see Mayport Naval Base and all its ships. At one time this monument was at Mayport. My blind friend Carl Bolton is standing there”  LS

The Ribault Monument is part of Fort Caroline National Memorial and commemorates the landing of Jean Ribault near the mouth of the St. Johns River in 1562. In 1924 the Florida Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution had a piece of land donated near Mayport for the monument designed by Charles Adrian Pillars who also created the Life sculpture in Jacksonville’s Memorial Park as well as the statues of Edmund Kirby Smith and John Gorrie which stand in the statuary hall in the Capitol building in Washington, DC. When Naval Station Mayport was established in 1941 the public could no longer get access to the monument so it was moved several times until it ended up at it’s current location on St. Johns Bluff overlooking the St. Johns River in 1958. This photo is undated.

 

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24 Aug 2016

Tough Little Truck

9:24H

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“The Grimland Toy company made these little toy trucks. They were so well designed that you could stand on them without crushing them. They were made of aluminum and very well made. They were burned out of business in the 1950’s. Too bad.” LS

I’ve been unable to find out much about the Grimland Toy Company. There are few listings online and most of what I have seen are the same moving van model with a few different moving companies represented. I found one reference on a listing that they were made both in Marietta, Georgia & Jacksonville, Florida and most posts simply say they are very rare. This appears to be a photo shot for an advertisement for the company.

 

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13 Jul 2016

Teen Town Building

8:00H

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“This is the Teen Town Club Building on the corner of State and Liberty Streets.  It was a very active place in the late 40’s.  Later it was torn down to make way for the Jacksonville Recreation Department parking lot which it still is today.”  LS

Information about this art deco inspired building was not easy to come by. It appears to have been initially built as an annex for the 1916 Duval County Armory building which faces North Market Street and the corner of that building can be seen in the left side of the photograph. Over the doorway of this building that was located at the corner of State Street East and Liberty Street it says Duval County Armory. In 1973 the old Armory building was turned over to the city’s Recreation and Public Affairs Department. The sign in front of the building says This Is Teen Town, A City Within A City, Operated By Youth For Youth. I reached out to Brian Burket, the Natural Resources Recreation Specialist with JaxParks and he shared what he could find. “ I scanned through our files and only see a few references to “Teen Town” that state during the 1940’s and 50’s, the Woman’s Club of Jacksonville opened Teen Town in the old armory which sponsored dances and other activities for the city’s youth. However, it seems clear from your photo that this was a separate building immediately east of the Armory but I can’t find any information about another building on this site.”

The old Armory Building is still standing but at some point this structure was demolished and the property remains vacant. I welcome any additional information that anyone can share to help fill in the gaps in this building’s history.

 

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21 Jun 2016

1950′s View of Old Courthouse

10:08H

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Looking South from East Monroe Street at the back of the 1902 Duval County Courthouse building with the it’s 1914 addition to the right. North Market Street runs down the left side of the photograph. On the right side of the photograph appear to be residential structures that would be behind the Morocco Temple. The building jutting into the parking lot on the left is the still standing Burbridge Realty Co. building which fronts East Adams Street. The original courthouse building with the cupola was demolished when the 1958 Duval County Courthouse on East Bay Street was opened. The 1914 addition remains standing with additional wings added along East Forsyth Street to make up the Claude Yates Building which houses city offices. A parking garage on East Adams Street now covers the back of the Yates Building.

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11 May 2016

Carter Buick Garage, 1947

11:21H

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This image shows the art deco influenced exterior of the Carter Buick Garage that was located at Ocean and Ashley Streets in downtown Jacksonville. This was photographed in 1947 by Loyd Sandgren. The original print is a contact print from an 8X10 inch negative. According to the photographer’s note the building was torn down in the 1960’s.  Part of the note states that the building had previously been used as a movie studio when Jacksonville was a booming silent film production center but I am having difficulty confirming this. I will update the post when I have additional information.

 

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More