By: Brooke Lasky, Intern

March is a month to celebrate all of the achievements of women. In 1981 Congress passed a law that made the beginning week of March 7th Women’s History “Week”. Many argued that women should be appreciated every day of the year and throughout the next 5 years there were many petitions to make the whole month of March “Women’s History Month.” As a result, in 1987 it became official!

Everyday women are making a difference and this is the month we celebrate that; whether past or present. So, let’s take a look back at all the achievements, movements and progress made by women in #DTJax!

Henrietta Dozier (1872 – 1947) was born in Fernandina Beach, Henrietta C. Dozier graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899 with an advanced degree in architecture. She was one of only three women in the class of 176 students, and she was the only one to graduate.

After working in Atlanta for thirteen years, Henrietta C. Dozier moved her practice to Jacksonville in 1914 where she became the City’s first and foremost woman architect. In 1903, Henrietta C. Dozier designed the All Saints Episcopal Chapel in Atlanta. Her favorite commission, this small chapel was later damaged by fire and incorporated into a larger structure. While still in Atlanta, Henrietta C. Dozier was responsible for the design of Saint Philips Episcopal Church, which was constructed around 1903 at 801 North Pearl Street in Downtown Jacksonville. (Pictured below)

Some of the more noted buildings designed by Henrietta C. Dozier in Jacksonville include the Old Federal Reserve Bank Building (1923 – 1924 in association with Atlanta architect, A. Ten Eyck Brown), Lampru Court Apartments (1924), and residences at 1819 Goodwin Street, 2215 River Boulevard and 1814 Powell Place.

Eartha M.M. White (1876-1974) was an African-American resident of Jacksonville, Florida, and was widely known for her humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors in northeast Florida.

In 1893, upon graduation from Stanton School in Jacksonville, Eartha White moved to New York City for a brief period. Upon returning to Florida in 1896, she decided to continue her education and subsequently graduated from Florida Baptist Academy. With degree in hand, she embarked on a sixteen-year teaching career in Bayard, Florida, and later at Stanton School in Jacksonville.

Her versatility and determination also enabled her to become a licensed real estate broker, the first woman employee of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville, and a charter member of the National Negro Business League and Jacksonville Business League. Due to her numerous businesses and astute real estate transactions, it is estimated that she accumulated over one million dollars in assets throughout her lifetime.

As admirable as Eartha White’s diverse educational and business activities may have been, her enduring legacy continues to be focused on her social welfare work and zeal for helping the underprivileged. Her accomplishments in this arena are astounding: extensive social work with prison inmates, the establishment of an orphanage for African-American children, a home for unwed mothers, a nursery for children of working mothers, a tuberculosis rest home, a nursing home for elderly African-Americans (1902), the Boys’ Improvement Club (1904), and the Clara White Mission for the Indigent (1928). A major achievement and fulfillment of a lifelong dream was the dedication of the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home in 1967 to replace the Mercy Hospital for the Aged.

As to be expected, awards and honors were numerous towards the end of her life. In 1970, at the age of ninety-four, she received national recognition by being named the recipient of the 1970 Lane Bryant Award for Volunteer Service. Not stopping there, in 1971, the indefatigable Miss White was appointed to the President’s National Center for Voluntary Action. After a reception at the White House with President Nixon, she quite characteristically responded to the question of how she would spend the cash award, “I’ve already decided I want it to serve humanity. What would I do with it? Sit around the Plaza Hotel? I’m too busy.”

Jessie Ball DuPont (1884 – 1970) was an American teacher, philanthropist and designated a Great Floridian by the Florida Department of State.

Jessie managed more than 100 such scholarships, a reflection early in life of her deep commitment to education.

In 1920, she met Alfred I. DuPont, and then married him in 1921 and by 1927 had built their estate, Epping Forest in Jacksonville, Florida. When he died in 1935, she assumed control of his vast business enterprises in Florida and became the principal trustee of his estate. In his memory, she created three foundations. From the time of her marriage, Mrs. DuPont focused her life on charitable and philanthropic work. For four decades, she funded hundreds of scholarships for college students, mostly in the southeastern states, hundreds of churches of all denominations, major charities, children’s homes, historic buildings and art museums benefited from her gifts.

The Jessie Ball DuPont Fund today continues to support the work of more than 300 grantees that were referenced in Mrs. DuPont’s will. They range from large, widely known institutions such as the University of Notre Dame, the National Audubon Society and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., to small, little known organizations serving local constituencies, such as Jenkins Orphanage Institute in North Charleston, S.C. and Kilmarnock Lancaster County Volunteer Rescue Squad in Virginia. This diversity of size and interest, perspective and capacity makes rich opportunity for Mrs. DuPont’s legacy. Through innovative programs and unique partnerships, her largess today touches lives far beyond the universe that she knew.

“Don’t call it charity. I think it is an obligation.” Jessie Ball Dupont

Tillie Kidd Fowler (1942 – 2005) was an American politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001.

In 1971, she married and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where she changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, to her father’s chagrin. She was active in volunteer activities and the area Junior League, serving as the Jacksonville chapter’s president from 1982 to 1983, and was elected to the Jacksonville City Council in 1985. In 1989, Fowler became the council’s president!

She was also the first Florida Republican woman elected to the House in her own right (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of the Miami area first came to the House in 1989 to finish out the unexpired term of the late Claude Pepper). She was reelected three more times, all unopposed. In addition to the aforementioned Republican trend in Jacksonville, most of the city’s blacks had been drawn into the majority-black 3rd District after the 1990 census.

Tillie eventually had a park named after her! The land was first leased from the Navy in 1979. A decade later, Councilwoman Tillie Fowler began to push hard to develop the land.

Remnants of a 16-foot wide brick road linked Ortega to Jacksonville and can be found at several locations in the park. The road pre-dates 1917 but was heavily used when Camp Johnston was built as part of the preparations to train American troops during World War I. In 2005 the park was renamed for Tillie K. Fowler.

A woman of impeccable grace and civility, she tenaciously advocated on behalf of issues important to the City of Jacksonville and on behalf of the needs of the United States armed forces, particularly the U.S. Navy. 

These are just a few of the many amazing women who have left their mark on Downtown. For more information visit these resources!

Interested in Downtown History? Learn more here!

With the 2019 #DTJax Gala: Havana Nights, Neon Lights! right around the corner, you might be wondering “why Havana, Cuba?  What does that have to do with Jacksonville?”  Well, here’s your answer, because #DTJax and Cuba go way back!

Cigar Industry

Cuban immigrants were rolling authentic Cuban cigars in Florida since the early 1830s.  In 1867, the first Cuban cigar factory opened in Key West, but it wasn’t long after that cigar manufacturers began importing Havana tobacco to Jacksonville to process locally and distribute via the Jacksonville Union Terminal, which was the largest in the South upon its completion in 1919.  In 1895 however, Jacksonville was playing host to 15 separate cigar factories and thousands of Cuban immigrants working to make millions of hand-rolled Cuban cigars annually.  Most of these factories were located right on Bay Street, which originally ran directly parallel to the north bank of the St. Johns, in order to be as close to the shipping docks as possible.

Jacksonville’s cigar industry continued to grow steadily until 1924, when an amusing moment took place right in Downtown:

[I]n 1924, Mayor John Alsop noticed a chauffeured Cadillac with an Ohio license plate traveling through town. Seizing the opportunity, he jumped on the car’s running board, introduced himself to the car’s occupant and convinced him to stay overnight in town.

The occupant was cigar maker John Swisher. Swisher was the first cigar manufacturer to install cigar making machinery. Alsop, not only successfully convinced Swisher to bring his machinery to Jax, Swisher also decided to consolidate his 22 Ohio-based cigar factories into one large factory in Jacksonville. The building selected for his operation was a former World War I munitions factory in the New Springfield neighborhood. The large relocation also convinced a major Swisher supplier, the A.S. Ginter Box Company, to move to Jacksonville as well. Ginter’s new factory opened in 1924 across the street from Swisher’s.

Metro Jacksonville

Swisher was able to weather the Great Depression better than the many smaller factories in Jacksonville and was even partially responsible for the closing of many Tampa cigar factories, which couldn’t compete with the sheer volume of product the company released into the market.  Though the company recently made the decision to relocate the manufacturing process to the Dominican Republic, Swisher’s headquarters and distribution center will be staying in Jacksonville, a current link to our storied cigar past.


Aiding the Revolt

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward worked on the St. Johns and up and down the coast of New England before being appointed to Sheriff of Jacksonville in 1888 following the disgrace of the former Sheriff for a massive prison break.  In 1894, he lost his appointment to a political rival and teamed with his brother and a mutual associate to build a steamboat, which they named the Three Friends.  When open revolt against Spain occurred in Cuba, Jacksonville Cubans asked Broward if he would be willing to become a filibuster and smuggle munitions and individuals down to Cuba to aid in the revolt.  He agreed, and made the run several more times, being chased by the U.S. Coast Guard who were tasked with stopping private citizens from disrupting the neutrality officials were trying to maintain, and the Spanish Armada, ordered by Alfonso XIII, King of Spain to sink the Three Friends on sight.  In 1897, the Three Friends was seized by the United States government for carrying illegal cargo.  Broward tried his best to argue an appeal, but the Supreme Court found that, while they could not prove who was responsible for the use of the Three Friends, as the circumstantial evidence of his ownership wasn’t enough to charge him or his associates directly, there was enough evidence to prove that it was used for smuggling, and the vessel and everything on it at the time of seizure was liquidated by the federal government.


Camp Cuba Libre

After declaring war on Spain, the United States began a massive recruitment effort to invade Cuba and remove Spain from their own province.  The U.S. was increasingly supportive of anti-colonial Monroe Doctrine, and the public and press were up in arms over the apparent naval mine attack by Spain on the U.S.S. Maine (ACR-1), moored in Havana Harbor.  The U.S. Army was hoping to triple its forces from 25,000 to 75,000, but ended up with a surging influx of soldiers, in all totaling 220,000, about half of whom enlisted the day after the Maine was sunk.  Subsequently, engineers have reported that it was most likely a coal fire that caused the explosive sinking and deaths of 250 U.S. Navy sailors onboard the U.S.S. Maine, but the snap judgments of civilians coupled with the issue of yellow journalism stoked the emotions of Americans calling for war against Spain.  

Due to the massive influx of recruits serving in aid to Cuban efforts to overthrow their 400-year colonial rulers, the Army ran out of room for its forces in Tampa.  It was decided to establish a secondary forward operating base just north of Downtown Jacksonville. Originally called “Camp Springfield,” the U.S. Army claimed 28 square blocks between Main and Ionia, 8th and 1st Streets.

The base was renamed “Camp Cuba Libre” in response to the rallying cry of Americans who supported the Cuban liberation effort.  Spanish for “Free Cuba!” Camp Cuba Libre was only operational for about three months, the entirety of the Spanish-American War. In August of 1898, Spain sued the United States for peace after sustaining dreadful defeats in both the Pacific and Caribbean theaters of operation.  After two months of negotiations during a cessation of hostilities by both countries, both countries signed the Treaty of Paris, with Spain ceding control of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the U.S., as well as granting Cuba independence, though they immediately became a political protectorate of the United States.  The tens of thousands of soldiers left packed up the camp and filled trains at Jacksonville Union Terminal, heading back to their hometowns, or down to Cuba to stabilize the region.  The last soldier left Cuba Libre in January of 1899.




CubanoJax Culture Today

Cubano culture is still vibrant and present in Downtown today.  On Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, The Justice Pub will be hosting the Cien Calaveras [100 Skulls] Cuban Art Show & Fundraiser, an imperative by the Amigo Tattoo Charity to raise funds for Cuban artists who face difficulties getting supplies due to economic challenges.  100 skull shapes were cut out of old skateboards from Amigo Skate and sent to participating artists around the United States to be turned into calavera art and sold at Justice Pub to benefit the charity fund.

So go check out Cien Calaveras while you’re at First Wednesday Art Walk March 6th and support a great cause!

July is National Outdoors Month! To the surprise of many, the Jacksonville’s Urban Core is no stranger to outdoor activities. In fact, looking pass the high-rise buildings and architectural gems, downtown Jacksonville is home to not only businessmen, businesswomen, hipsters and musicians; but also outdoor enthusiasts. Though Jacksonville is known for its vast landmass that accounts for the city’s hiking and bike trails, endless beaches and internal waterways perfect for water sports fanatics; little know about the outdoor activities that downtown has to offer. In appreciation of the city’s limitless possibilities, here’s a short list of year-long outdoor activities you’ll find in #DTJax.

Be a TreeHugger

If you’re looking for something unique and low-cost to do with friends and family, look no further than the Treaty Oak Park. Located on the Southbank of the St. Johns River, the 250 year-old tree is a popular spot for family gatherings, outdoor picnics and relaxation in general. In fact, growing up in Jacksonville, some of our locals no doubt have climbed up the branches at one point in their lives.

For the bravehearts, the “octopus-like” tree provides 145 feet of branches for climbing. And if you climb all the way to the tree’s crown, you’ll find a 25 foot nook – perfect for naps and summer reading. If you’re not up for the climb, no worries. Because of the massive size of the tree, it gives visitors roughly 190 feet of shade – a good spot to get out of the Florida heat!

Biking the Riverwalk

Experience the city on a bike. One of the most popular activities in downtown Jacksonville is biking along the St. Johns River. The Northbank Riverwalk is the perfect cycling route to enjoy both an urban scenery and the cool breeze from the river.

The Northbank is a wonderful 2 mile ride between the Jacksonville Landing and the Riverside Arts Market. You will even ride through the Love Locks Bridge – which not only connects the downtown district with Riverside, but also a known spot for couples to symbolize their ‘unbreakable’ love.

For those looking for a longer ride, plan your route with the DTJax Map. You can’t go wrong with the three bridge loop over the Main Street, Acosta and Fuller Warren Bridges!

Paddling Through #DTJax

For the water sports enthusiasts, urban kayaking is a great alternative to exploring the city. It is a unique way to experience both the urban scenery and one of Jacksonville’s natural beauties. The Jacksonville Kayak Company offers guided tours in Downtown Jacksonville, taking off from the River City Brewing Company Marina.

Imagine this: seeing new angles of the city as you paddle under three of Jacksonville’s 13+ bridges, being swept away by the natural pulse of the River City. Though this recreational activity is not for beginners, if you are up for an adventure do not hesitate to book a tour with Jacksonville Kayak Company.

“Run, Forest, Run!”

Aside from cycling, the most common outdoor workout in the downtown district is running. Covering roughly four square-miles, the urban core is a runner’s world. From the riverwalk to the bridges to the hills, a workout junkie can get their full load of cardio while taking in the urban scenery.

The USA Track & Field website offers an extensive list of running routes within the #DTJax boundary – including the Northbank River 5K. If you’re feeling adventurous and up for a challenge, try the Hart Bridge Loop 12K.

Urban Yoga

Looking to de-stress? In the past couple of years, yoga has played a major role in stress management. Stress and anxiety is alive even in Jacksonville where “It’s Easier Here”; which is why free yoga sessions are offered throughout the week.

Unity Plaza in Brooklyn, dubbed as Jacksonville’s “central park”, along with the Winston Family YMCA offers Tuesday and Thursday yoga sessions year-long. With the built-in waterfront and tiered seating, the Unity Plaza is the ideal central spot for sunset yoga.

Now for the early birds looking for a healthy morning start, go further into Riverside and you’ll find yourself in Corkscrew Park commonly known for the weekly Riverside Arts Market. However, little known fact, before the hustle and bustle of the market traffic hits; Hot Spot Yoga’s Namie Rohack leads morning yoga from 9 – 10 a.m. every Saturday.

These are just some of the outdoor activities in Downtown Jacksonville. Explore the city and discover more possibilities – they are endless! For more activities, visit our directory here.

By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern


All photos taken by DVI

On January 28, 2015, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission held a press conference to debate another demolition of a historical site in Downtown Jacksonville. Located directly across from the Basilica of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the Elena Flats building is a historical landmark distinguished by original glass windows, rustic cherry red hardwood floors and decades of history.

After the Great Fire of 1901, which damaged more than 2,368 buildings in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, the city reconstructed more than 146 city blocks. Among the restoration, the city built a 22-room inexpensive boarding house for local residents called the Elena Flats. The rooming house offered close access to local job opportunities, businesses, restaurants, bars and numerous activities creating a surplus of economic growth for the recovering metropolitan area.

Fast forward 107 years later and the elenaElena Flats building is still standing on East Duval Street. Do not let the caution tape, abandoned rooms, and scaffolding equipment turn you away from this hidden beauty. The previous owner applied for a permit to tear down the building and convert it into another parking lot. Fortunately, current owners Jack Meeks and his wife, JoAnn Tredennick marveled at the significance and beauty of the Elena Flats property hidden deep underneath the fragments. The age, history and importance of the building made it eligible for a complete renovation and noted as a historical preservation site in Jacksonville.


Following the renovation, the Elena Flats will house four luxury condominiums complete with private patios, luminous skylights and spiraling staircases. In order to still embody all the history of Elena Flats, the restoration plans utilize the original hardwood floors, skylights and tile flooring. The renovations will be completed and ready to rent in early 2017.

We are excited to witness the restoration of this hidden local gem planned for early next year in #DTJax!


Matthew Clark lives and works Downtown and wouldn’t have it any other way. The vice president of prime retail services for Prime Realty is optimistic and inspired by Downtown Jacksonville’s growth over the last few years. He’s also excited that one of the properties he markets is getting a well-deserved upgrade to compete with the increased interest in Jacksonville’s urban-core real estate. The building, “100 North Laura” or “The Jacksonville Bank Building,” is a 10-story, 130,000 square-foot mixed-use building located on the corner of Laura and Forsyth streets. We recently caught up with Matthew to find out what’s on the horizon for this Downtown architectural centerpiece.



Photos provided by Prime Realty

The Jacksonville Bank building, center, at 100 N. Laura St. Photos provided by Prime Realty.


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Matthew Clark in a raw, available office space on the ninth floor of 100 North Laura.

Matthew Clark on the ninth floor of 100 North Laura, a raw space available for lease.

Tell me about 100 N. Laura St. – its history and use.

100 North Laura has always had a presence in the Jacksonville banking community. The building was built in the ’60s and was home to a large bank training facility and even had a drive-through. The drive-through entrance was on Laura Street and exited onto Forsyth Street where the restaurant space is currently. The tenancy in the building is made up of creatives and business professionals. I love that we have a photography studio, a tech start-up, a nonprofit and an attorney all on a single floor. The mix creates awesome synergy and, ultimately, a great community.

Why is now the time for renovations of the building?

The renovation plans for the building have taken a couple of years to bring to fruition. The good thing is we have been able to get a good sense of the tenants attracted to the building and modify our plans accordingly. In order to compete in the market, we need to deliver a product that doesn’t exist in Jacksonville – one that is truly unique. The influx and quality of office users coming into the market today expect and deserve the renovations.

What will the renovations entail?

Exterior renovations include replacing building awnings; replacing both the Laura and Forsyth streets’ entrances; transforming the loading dock on Laura Street into a hybrid storefront, which will serve as the 24/7 access for Anytime Fitness; waterproofing and painting the entire building; installing an exterior, variable colored LED up-lighting system so we will be able to coordinate the building colors with holidays and special events; and replacing all exterior signage.

Rendering of 100 North Laura lobby improvements

Rendering of 100 North Laura lobby improvements

Interior renovations include an overhaul of the lobby, combining the aesthetic of a boutique hotel with the progressive feel of a tech start up; installing wood-coffered ceilings, with LED pendant lighting and recessed lighting; installing all-new flooring, with porcelain tile throughout, walk off carpets at both main entries and carpet tiles defining new collaborative seating areas; adding wayward signage and televisions for up-to-the minute building and local information, as well as a new security system; modernizing the elevators; and installing private bathrooms with showers in the lobby, along with lockers and bike storage for tenants who walk or bike to work.

Any new tenants you’re excited about?

We are finalizing the retail space and look forward to their announcement in the near future.

Why is the renovation of this building so important to Downtown?

For the last couple of years, this building has increased occupancy with a mix of creative and executive professionals. The renovation is symbolic of the building’s success and Downtown’s success. More and more businesses and their employees want to be a part of the change Downtown. We hope the renovation of the building enhances the retail and office experience in Downtown Jacksonville.

What have you noticed as far as the interest in Downtown real estate?

The energy and momentum is here. I have investors from Atlanta and California who see the difference in the activity Downtown today compared to a few years ago. Retail lease rates in the core are up 50-60% over leases signed just a few years ago. As the cumulative mass of retail in the core continues to grow, it will only help attract more office users. I have a couple of properties in the core that are more than 95% leased.

Current office space in 100 North Laura

Current office space in 100 North Laura

Why would you recommend someone move their business to Downtown?

Downtown has unique office options that can’t be found in other areas of Jacksonville. There is a wide variety of business resources concentrated within walking distance of virtually all Downtown office space. The beauty of doing business in Downtown is it’s small enough for people to feel connected but large enough to give a business everything it needs to thrive.

What do you love about Downtown personally?

I have always loved the hustle and bustle of an urban environment. I actually live Downtown. My home is a loft apartment in a 100-year old building. I walk outside my front door, and I am minutes away from restaurants, bars, the Florida Theatre and EverBank Field. When I walk my dog, I always bump into someone I know. If people don’t remember my name, they definitely remember my dog, Darby. I love that because it means we’re a part of a great neighborhood.


For more information on the Jacksonville Bank Building at 100 N. Laura St., you can contact Matthew Clark at or 904-239-5269.

Jason Hunnicut is one of three owners of 1904 Music Hall and the adjoining Spliff's Gastropub, opening this fall.

Jason Hunnicutt is one of three owners of 1904 Music Hall and the adjoining Spliff’s Gastropub, opening this fall. Photo by DVI.

From 2008 to 2011, Jason Hunnicutt got a glimpse of what Downtown Jacksonville’s entertainment district could be. A member of the band Greenhouse Lounge, he toured the Southeast playing in the region’s top music scenes.

“We were seeing all of those awesome cities and awesome music scenes,” he said. “Jax needed this.”

When he left the band to settle down, he decided to call Downtown home, living the life of a Jacksonville urbanite. His “rosy eyes” for Downtown – thanks to a steadfast love for the urban core – spurred Hunnicutt and his former bandmate, Duane De Castro, to start a Jacksonville version of those Southeast music scenes they admired.

Hunnicutt and De Castro soon recruited friend Brian Eisele to join their new business venture: a live music venue with impressive bands and an equally impressive tap list.

“We all love music and beer, thus the concept was born,” Hunnicutt said. Now they just needed a location. After looking at spots in Springfield, San Marco and Riverside, De Castro serendipitously stumbled upon a historic building on Ocean Street with a “for rent” sign posted.

Interior of 1904 Music Hall. Photo provided by the venue.

Interior of 1904 Music Hall. Photo provided by the venue.

Turns out, that building – constructed in 1904 – was the perfect venue for their concept with its large open floorplan, back patio space and front sidewalk on a major thoroughfare Downtown. And as luck would have it, the spot also inspired their venue’s name: 1904 Music Hall.

“I love knowing that from 1880 to 1965 or so this city was a thriving metropolis,” De Castro said. “The idea that we are part of that history and are in the process of making our own history is a great honor.”

The first year was slow-going, Hunnicutt admits. Their focus was simply building relationships with bands, fellow business owners and the community at large.

“I looked at it as an investment in not just my future but my friends’ future,” Hunnicutt said. As 2012 progressed, they booked bigger bands and found 1904 Music Hall listed on larger show rosters.

“It kind of snowballed from there,” Hunnicutt said. “We thought, ‘OK, where are going to be here awhile.’”

In 2014, that realization sparked an interest in the spot next door. The first idea was simply to expand the music hall. They went back and forth with concepts for months, ultimately determining Downtown needed another lunch, dinner and, especially, a late-night eats spot.

Co-owner Jason Hunnicut and Spliff's mural.

Co-owner Jason Hunnicutt and Spliff’s mural.

Build-out started earlier this year on Spliff’s Gastropub, which is scheduled to open in just a few weeks after final inspections are scheduled and completed.

“I am very excited about the concept we’ve put together,” De Castro said. “I think the atmosphere of Spliff’s will be a unique and fun experience for our guests. I am proud we are going to be the first true gastropub in Downtown Jacksonville.”

Featuring original brick walls and reclaimed wood paneling, Spliff’s will have craft beers, international wines and sake, a Southern comfort menu (with vegan options), table seating, bar-like window seating overlooking Ocean Street, and beer-garden access out back. Menu highlights include 20 flavors of macaroni and cheese, baked chicken wings and West-Coast-style tri-tip roast beef, with the full menu under the direction of Daniel Johnson, a classically trained chef from San Diego.

“We are a big believer of putting aces in their places,” Hunnicutt said.

Speaking of aces in their places, you could say the same for De Castro, Eisele and Hunnicutt in relation to Downtown. As urban-core business owners soon opening another business next door, the trio took a risk on Downtown, helping cultivate a district of nightlife pioneers in what is now known as The Elbow.

“The development is everywhere,” Eisele said. “New businesses are recognizing the potential in Downtown and are looking for chances to contribute. People are coming through our doors and often ask us: “When did Downtown become so cool?”

View from the entrance of Spliff's.

View from the entrance of Spliff’s. Photo by DVI.

DeCastro agrees.

“I am excited for the future of Downtown,” he said. “We have all seen the progress over the last few years, and I believe we have already reached the tipping point. Major players are starting to take notice, and once the Cowford Chophouse is open, I think we will see an explosion of new bars and restaurants on The Elbow, which will forever change the city landscape.”

When can you get your first bites of Spliff’s Gastropub? Hunnicutt said the announcement will come soon to its official website and Facebook page. Tonight, Aug. 27, the trio is hosting a fundraiser to ease the build-out costs burden. (Enter the raffle for a chance to win free food for an entire year at Spliff’s!)

If you need a summary on why you should check out this new hangout opening soon Downtown, we’ll let Eisele do the honors: “Good food, good beers, and great people! Another reason to check out The Elbow.”

By Tenley Ross, DVI Intern

Walk around Downtown, and you’ll be in awe by the modern high-rises with their sleek exteriors and windows that seem to glitter in the sun.

What might not capture your attention right away but are still impressive are the historic buildings of Downtown’s bygone eras that, thanks to visionary developers, are breathing new life.

Some of these projects were recognized in this year’s City of Jacksonville (COJ) Annual Preservation Awards and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor and Design Awards.

The Seminole Club Building (Now Sweet Pete’s Candy and The Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails)
400 N. Hogan St.

Sweet Pete's and Candy Apple Cafe and Cocktails

Sweet Pete’s and Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails

From the COJ Preservation Awards, the Seminole Club building was awarded for its commercial rehabilitation into Sweet Pete’s Candy and the Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails.

Built in 1903, the Seminole Club was a social club for men. It hosted numerous famous people including Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Closing in 1989 after losing popularity, Restitution, Inc., an investment group, reopened the club from 1998 until 2004.

It was vacant for 10 years until Sweet Pete’s and The Candy Apple Café and Cocktails moved in late 2014. Through the renovation process, the two businesses worked with the Jacksonville Historical Society to keep the building’s historical integrity.

In addition, the new Seminole Club owners are now planning to expand the business into two neighboring historic buildings. Read more here.