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.

The old St. Luke’s Hospital (right) and the Florida Casket Company building. (Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville Historical Society)

One is a 130-year-old factory. The other, a 134-year-old hospital. Both are symbols of and testaments to the importance of historic preservation in Downtown Jacksonville.

These buildings – the 1878 St. Luke’s Hospital and the 1882 Florida Casket Company – were purchased this fall by the Jacksonville Historical Society in celebration of the organization’s 80th year. Both are located on the same lot at Palmetto and Duval streets near the Sports Complex area. The Society plans to use the hospital for its archives and the Florida Casket Factory for events, exhibits and other history programs.

With recent developments in the revitalization efforts of the Bostwick Building, the Hayden Burn Library and the Laura Street Trio, the efforts of the Society and others working to preserve Downtown historic structures are crucial to creating a more vibrant Downtown. Plus, it’s good for our economy. In a 2011 study, PlaceEconomics found that historic preservation results in more jobs than new construction, increased property values, increased tourism, fewer environmental impacts and increased quality of life.

What historic Downtown buildings would you like to see renovated, and for what reuse purpose? Weigh in with your thoughts in this post’s comment section.