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Preserving Downtown History: Why We Must Save the Bostwick Building

Bostwick Building
Current interior of the Bostwick Building.

Jacksonville is in danger of losing one of its icons. The Bostwick Building, or as many Jacksonville residents know it, the Jaguar Building at 101 E. Bay St. is slated for possible demolition. This means that visitors coming into the city from the Main Street Bridge heading north could see a hole. An empty lot. A missing tooth in the urban landscape. Vacant since the early 1980s and home to the iconic jaguar mural by local artist, Jim Draper, the building has deteriorated significantly over the years.

In August 2012, the building’s owners applied for a demolition permit. We at Downtown Vision, and many other downtown residents and property owners, believe the building is important to our downtown landscape and should be saved from demolition. Built in 1902, and the first building permitted after the Great Fire, the Bostwick Building, originally know as the Guaranty Trust and Savings Building, is eligible for designation as a Local Historic Landmark. On September 27, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) reviewed this eligibility and issued an advisory recommendation that the structure receive historic designation, thus preventing its demolition.

The City of Jacksonville is now preparing a report on the historical significance of the building, which will be heard at the JHPC meeting on October 24, 2012. The building has historical significance for a number of reasons:

• It is in a prominent location, at the entry to Downtown from the Main Street Bridge heading north.
• It was the first building permitted following the Great Fire in 1901.
• It is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
• It made the Jacksonville Historical Society’s “12 Worth Saving” list.
• It is located in perhaps the most intact block of historic buildings that exists Downtown today.
• It once housed the office of Henry Klutho, a noted architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and designed many iconic Downtown buildings, including the St. James Building.

If the JHPC finds that the building meets its criteria for designation as a historical landmark, a public hearing will be scheduled and City Council will take up the matter.

 

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