Meet Your Neighbors: David & Laura and Paul & Alison

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbors

p10-XL.jpgName: David & Laura, and Family

Location: E. 3rdStreet

Occupation: David is a Biology professor at FSCJ and Laura owns Yard Chicks Inc, a landscape design business.

Fun Fact: David and Laura met in Fiji, while in the Peace Core. 

Q: What brought you to the Springfield Historic District? 

David: We moved to Jacksonville from Gainesville in 1993 after I received a job offer for a tenured professorship. We were looking for houses in Jacksonville but we didn’t have much time, and our realtor was showing us a number new subdivisions on the outskirts of Jacksonville. I remember being shown Julington Creek and thinking that the houses were just dreadful.  Not my taste at all, and that they had just bulldozed a forest to build them.

The homes in Springfield caught our eye, we loved the houses and architecture, but the neighborhood wasn't' "there" yet, so moved to San Marco. It was somewhat of a compromise between the two.

Laura: Crime was still too much of an issue then for us to seriously think about moving into Springfield then. But in the past few years we’ve had friends move into the neighborhood, neighbors of ours from San Marco. We saw that the neighborhood had improved by leap and bounds and heard about how resident’s created a great sense of community. And how, you know, they weren’t afraid to have a drink now and then.

I think we just wanted to part of something bigger, if that makes sense. Bigger than the suburbs. We wanted to make an investment in something worthwhile, and wanted to live somewhere special. We moved in at the end of July, 2010 and are loving it.

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Meet Your Neighbors: Carlon and Russ & Bruce

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your Long-Time Neighbor

p6-XL.jpgName: Carlon 

Location: E. 5th Street

Occupation: Crossing guard for R.L. Brown Elementary

Fun Fact: Ms. Robinson has collected over 400 individual recipes from friends and family, but not one of them is for carrot cake (She’s taking suggestions).

Q: What brought you to Springfield? 

A: Well, it was the early 80’s and we were living in Boston, Mass. “We”, meaning my husband and me. We went on vacation down to Jacksonville. He’s from the North, so anywhere in Florida was good enough for him. It was winter, freezing cold up in Boston, but still balmy down here in Jacksonville. When he saw a guy cutting his front yard, that was it, he was sold on Jacksonville. He just thought that was the greatest thing, to be cutting the lawn in winter.   

But that was in Arlington. That was a “nice” neighborhood at the time. So how did we end up here? Good question. I didn’t quite get it at first, either. When my husband said he bought a house in Springfield, I said to him, “Why are we moving to Harlem?”. But we could have more space here in Springfield, the houses are bigger, and it was less expensive, so it made practical sense, I guess. 

We first moved here in 1982, when I was pregnant with my third child. I bought this house in 1988 though, just after my husband passed. It was built in 1916. 

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Meet Your Neighbors: Rouge and Cathy

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbor

p22-XL.jpgName: Rogue & Family

Location: Ionia Street 

Occupation: Lead singer, lyricist, and founder of The Cruxshadows

Fun Fact: The Crux Shadows have released over 20 albums and DVDs, touring the world several times over. Highlights include four Top 10 Billboard singles, and three #1 Billboard dance tracks.  

Q: What brought you to Springfield? 

A: We were living in Tallahassee and ready to move into a larger space. The bottom never really fell out of the housing market in Tallahassee, it’s relatively insulated as a college town, and we were looking to take advantage of the collapsed housing market. We found our house online by chance, and liked the size and price. I had lived in Jacksonville previously, during high school, and my parents still do, so moving to Jacksonville was something I was comfortable with. So the house itself was largely the reason we moved here. 

(continued) 

 

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Meet Your Neighbors: Michael and Max & Crissie

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your Long-Time Neighbor

p21-XL.jpgName: Michael

Location: W. 5th Street

Occupation: Real estate developer and investor

Fun Fact: While Michael is known for his historic restorations locally, he builds new developments in other cities such as Austin, TX and Cincinnati, OH. 

Q: What brought you to Springfield ?

A: I was restoring houses in Atlanta in the mid 80’s when a friend of mine invited me to vacation in Atlantic Beach. I was always looking for what was around the corner, and came upon Historic Springfield. As everyone knows, it was a complete dump back then. You name the illegal activity and it was happening in Springfield. You name it and it was going down here to the tenth power. Crime, poverty, corruption….everything. The City of Jacksonville dumped all it’s bad things in this one little area and kept a lid on it, not wanting anything to escape to the suburbs. Well, I wasn’t interested, but I did keep my eye on the area. 

A few years later a lot of smart people and important institutions started to pay attention to Springfield. The famed DuPont family used to vacation in the neighborhood back in it’s heyday, so they had a soft spot for it. They designated part of their trust for improvements to the area. Harvard and the National Trust started eyeing the area. That caught my attention. Soon after, it was designated as a historically significant area, with significant history and architecture. Significant to the city, to the state, and deemed significant nationally. 

I bought my first house in Springfield in 1988, but didn’t actually move here until 1991. 

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Meet Your Neighbors: Alicia and Will & Jamie

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your Long-Time Neighbor

p31-XL.jpgName: Alicia & Family

Location: E. 7th Street

Occupation: Retired Naval Officer

Fun Fact: Alicia’s painstaking renovation was documented week by week in the Florida Times-Union newspaper.

Q: What brought you to Historic Springfield?

A: Probably the most obvious reason: the houses. The houses brought me here.

It was 1997 and my husband and I were living in Ortega Forest. One afternoon during a Civil War reenactment festival outside of Jacksonville, I was approached by a stranger who asked if I knew anything about serving English Tea. She had heard that I was familiar with the English tradition and wanted some pointers for a home tour she was organizing in Springfield.

Well, I had never heard of such a place in Jacksonville, but we made fast friends and I agreed to help. So this new friend of mine brought me to the neighborhood, gave me the grand tour, and I was simply enthralled by the architecture and grandeur. Of course the neighborhood was pretty ratty back then, but I could see amazing potential none-the-less.

You see, when I was young, my parents renovated a historic house in Newport, Rhode Island. I always wanted to live in one ever since. So I had been reading Preservation Magazine for sometime, trying to find a suitable historic neighborhood, but they all seemed to be in cold weather states. But here I was in a historic area bursting with potential, right in my own backyard.

Having helped with the tea, of course I had to go on the home tour as well. And of course we loved it. After the tour, my husband and I started to look for a house in the neighborhood to restore. After making several offers, we started to get discouraged. Low and behold a 1910 beauty came before us, the house that we live in now. No one had lived in it since 1977; it was derelict. We bought it for $10k cash and it needed almost everything replaced or restored. Major fire damage, foundation problems, holes and cracks in the walls and ceilings….it was a big mess. A big job indeed, but we knew we could do it.

It took 2 years and 250k to fully restore the house as you see it now. We did a lot of the work ourselves, but also had the help of friends and contractors. That stranger who first introduced me to the neighborhood was Lisa Neary, one of the true pioneers and preservationalists in the neighborhood.

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Meet Your Neighbors: Art and Ashley & Felicia

(Originally published on 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbors

p33-XL.jpgName: Ashley & Felicia

Location: Walnut Street

Occupation: Office Manager & Wendy’s District Manager

Fun Fact: Ashley and Felicia are passionate about animals; so much so that they create and sell their own line of natural dog treats and cakes. Check out www.thegourmentdog.com

Q: What brought you to Springfield?

A: At the end of real estate boom, in 2007, we thought about buying a house in the neighborhood. We heard that the neighborhood was turning around and we wanted to get in while it was still up and coming. We still weren’t 100% confident about it though, so we rented a house in the neighborhood instead.

During the 2 years we rented, we absolutely fell in love with the neighborhood. We loved the eclectic collection of people just as much as the eclectic collection of houses. We were sold. 

Home prices fell like a rock during that time too, which didn’t hurt. So although we didn’t get in at the ground level, we feel that we bought early enough to see significant appreciation in the future. We bought this house in late 2009.

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Meet Your Neighbors: Robbie and Steve & Lane

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your Long-Time Neighbor

p32-XL.jpgName: Robbie

Location: E. 7th Street

Occupation: Retired Naval officer

Fun Fact: Robbie makes it his mission to make everyone around him laugh. He declares it, "one of my purposes in life". 

Q: What brought you to Historic Springfield?

A:  In 1985 I was living in a little house off San Pablo Road. My parents were older and I was taking care of them as well. Our landlord decided to sell the house, so I started to look elsewhere. 

I first became aware with the area when I was much younger, in the Navy. After the bars would close, me and my buddies would drive around the city a little bit, and often drove through Springfield. I had a friend or two in the neighborhood as well, so I was somewhat familiar with it. And I loved the old style of houses, with the big front porches, high ceilings, attention to detail, stained glass, etc. I grew up in similar houses in the mid-west, so they felt comfortable to me.

I thought why not move to Springfield? I could get a big house for me and my parents at a very low price. As far as the crime at that time, well, I had heard it was bad there from everyone. But I didn’t see it personally, maybe by coincidence. So that didn’t dissuade me at all. 


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Meet Your Neighbors: Kharis and Charles & Angie

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbors

p15-XL.jpgName: Charles & Angie 

Location: E. 5th Street

Occupation: Charles is a P-3 Naval flight officer and Angie is a Project Engineer

Fun Fact: Charles & Angie enjoy using their green thumbs in the diverse vegetable garden they’ve created in their back yard. Squash, onions, collared greens, cabbage, tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs are on the menu.

Q: What brought you to Springfield?

Charles: I’ve lived here before, actually. The Navy stationed me here a couple times before, most recently in 2006-2007. I lived in an apartment in the neighborhood then, and liked it over all. So when I was stationed back to Jacksonville this time, and I knew that I’d be sticking around, I wanted to consider Springfield again. A lot has changed since just a few years ago. Lots of businesses have opened and the neighborhood has steadily improved, so I decided this was the place to be. We moved in December 2009.

I also like that it’s centrally located in the city, so we’re close to Downtown and not too far away from anything else.

(continued)

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Meet Your Neighbors: Christina & JoAnn

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbor

p17-XL.jpgName: Christina & Family

Location: Hubbard Street.

Occupation: Real Estate and Land Use Attorney.

Fun Fact: Christina once owned a vintage guitar shop in Five Points and managed a local band, all while going through law school.

Q: What brought you to Springfield?

A: I’ve always been fascinated with the neighborhood. In fact, I’ve been looking in Historic Springfield for almost 20 years now. Let me explain. I bought my first house when I was 19 years old, in Savannah, GA. A fixer-upper. So I’ve always had a love affair with old, character-rich houses that need a little sweat equity. I’ve had friends that have lived in Springfield as well, so I’ve passively been admiring and waiting for the right time to buy. Twenty years ago the neighborhood was pretty scary place and, quite frankly, I didn’t feel comfortable raising a family in that environment.

Of course, it’s changed since then. Lots of families live here now and local businesses are attracting people from outside the area, which is a good indicator. I almost moved here a few years ago, during the first boom of interest, but had an inkling that the housing bubble might burst. Back then, the cost of buying a house and restoring it was prohibitive. Now that prices are much more reasonable, I felt it was the right time to make the move.

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Meet Your Neighbors: Ms. Miller and Jeremy

(Originally published in 2010)

Meet Your New Neighbor

Name: Jeremy

p14-XL.jpgLocation: Hubbard Street

Occupation: Urban Planner / Commercial Revitalization Planner for SPAR Council

Fun Fact: Having snowboarded the mile-high Alps, surfed Hawaii’s infamous North Shore, and twice backpacked through Europe, Jeremy has an impressive resume of adventurous travel.

Q: What brought you to Springfield?

A:  I grew up in suburban Jacksonville, but when I was younger I did a lot of traveling to large cities across the U.S. and Europe. New York, San Fran, Boston, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, etc. Those cities really captured my imagination. So I was always drawn to urban living, but lived in a very suburban neighborhood. 

After grad school my fiance and I started to look into the more urban neighborhoods of Jacksonville: Riverside & Avondale, San Marco and Springfield. San Marco is nice, but lacks the energy we were looking for. It’s pricey too.  Riverside & Avondale is a great area, but it’s not the best value anymore. Historic Springfield had the best combination of energy, value, and long-term potential, so it fit perfectly. We just moved in December 2009.

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