(Originally published in 2010)
Meet Your Long-Time Neighbor
Name: Ms. Flo
Location: Pearl Street
Occupation: Retired from Sears Roebuck.
Fun Fact: Flo is a passionate seamstress, and enjoys sewing everything from drapes to afghans.
Q: What brought you to Historic Springfield?
A: It was 1971 and I was moving back to Jacksonville. I had lived in Virginia for a while, making a living as a seamstress, but it was time to move back. When I came back down, I was living with friends for a while before I could find a place of my own. I also decided to get married about that time to. It was a busy time of my life.
Anyway, I didn’t know a lot about the area then. I just knew what I heard through the years, you know. It was a quiet neighborhood then, with lots of seniors. And I guess I just fell in love with the houses and the neighborhood. We bought this house that year, 1971.
Q: How did you know your house was “the one” for you?
A: I don’t know, I guess it just seemed like a good fit. Big house, tall ceilings, front porch, the architecture. I think it was built in 1919, but I’m not sure. It seemed like a good fit for my grandchildren too, which was mighty important for me too. It was a good fit all around. I’m a great grandmother you know, so I have to think of all my grandchildren.
Q: What changes have you seen in the neighborhood over the past 40 years?
A: A few years after I bought the house the neighborhood started to decline. A lot of the older home owners passed away or left, and it seemed like the people who inherited the homes didn’t care to take care of them, or the neighborhood. And about that time the neighborhood went through a very rough period.
I used to enjoy walking my grand kids to the Boys Club every day after school. They couldn’t wait to go to the Boys Club; it was their favorite thing to do. But even that short walk from my house to the corner of 10th & Liberty became unsettling. Drug dealers and prostitutes took over for a while. I had two break-ins in my home too. It was nerve racking.
That’s why I’m so glad it’s gone in the right direction now. I’ve watched the renovations and new houses built. It takes time, you know, with the market being what is. It slows things down, I think. But it’s still moving.
I don’t see the dealers and prostitutes around much anymore, thank goodness. Our local police have made such a big difference and I can’t thank them enough. They really are wonderful.
Q: What do you most enjoy about living in the neighborhood now?
A: It’s convenient to just about everything. Since I don’t drive anymore, the bus system is very important. I can get on a bus and get pretty much anywhere I need to visit from here. And I still love the houses and architecture, of course. That’s why I first fell in love with the area and nothing has changed my feelings about that.
Q: Do you participate in any neighborhood events or organizations?
A: Oh, yes. I’ve participated in many groups and things through the years. Let’s see, there was the neighborhood watch, CPAC, Spar Council, and SHADCO (Sheriff’s Advisory Council). I still attend most of the SHADCO meetings.
Some of my favorite things to do were the “picnics in the park” and the home tours. I don’t get out as much as I used to, but I loved attending those functions.
Q: How do you see the neighborhood changing in the future?
A: I think it will regain all it’s glory. I really do. It’ll take time, but it’s already started.
Q: What advice would you give to people considering making a move into the Springfield Historic District?
A: Go for it.
Meet Your New Neighbors
Name: Angie & Brent
Location: E. 4thStreet
Occupation: Children's Clinic community organizer & Financial performance reporter
Fun Fact: Angie & Brent spent their honeymoon on a tropical island in the Caribbean. But instead of enjoying a typical paradise getaway, they traveled to Haiti to help with earthquake relief efforts.
What brought you to the Springfield Historic District?
Brent: I was working at Fidelity as a broker at the time, and had a friend that lived in the neighborhood. Both he and his wife were always super enthusiastic about their community. We weren't seriously thinking about buying a house at the time, but the idea peaked my interest. That's how I found about it.
Angie: I work downtown, so I had randomly gotten lost in the area a few times just by driving around. And I loved what I found. I lived in New Orleans for a while and enjoyed the originality and character of the houses, and the neighborhood reminded me of that. You don’t see very much of that in Jacksonville
Brent: One day I mentioned the idea of checking out houses in the Springfield Historic District to Angie, and to my surprise she said that she already thought about it and liked the idea. Then our friends invited us to a First Friday Party at their house and we loved it. We loved the people and the community. We didn't even really consider living anywhere else.
Angie: Right, we were living on the Southside of town near UNF, so we were used to very suburban, cookie-cutter developments and subdivisions. But we knew that wasn't what we wanted. When we found Springfield, researched it, spent time here, and found out about the tight knit community, it was everything we were looking for. One of the coolest things at least for me, was when our realtor, who also lives in the neighborhood, showed us houses and could literally point to all the homes on the block and say "so-and-so lives there, and so-and-so lives here". We didn't know hardly anyone where we were living at the time. And we wanted to live in a real community. I’d say that the architecture was the initial draw, but the people are what really sold us.
Did you buy a historic house or a new house, and why?
Angie: We bought a newer SRG house. It was the first house we were shown and we just fell in love with it. We looked at both new homes and old homes, and really didn't have a preference when we started looking, but this was the right price and location for us.
Brent: Originally, I was leaning towards an original, historic home. But this one worked out best for us.
What did your friends and family think of your big move?
Angie: Well, there was a lot going on in our lives at the time. We got married, bought our house, and Brent changed jobs all at about the same time. We got married and bought our house in October of 2010. Since there was so much going on in our lives at the time, most of our friends and family weren’t really focused on the move. It was a lot to process!
Brent: Everything happened so fast that there wasn't much time for discussion with our friends and family. But one of my friends did attempt an "intervention". He sat me down for talk about how bad the neighborhood was and that we shouldn't move here. But when we looked at the map, he thought the Springfield Historic District and the surrounding areas were all the same. He didn’t know where it was exactly, and didn't realize that the Historic District is very different other neighborhoods in the same general area.
Angie: Since we have moved in and have had a chance to invite friends over, I think they all fall in love with the charm and character of the area like I did.
Now that you've moved in, what do you enjoy about living in the neighborhood?
Angie: Umm . . . . probably everything. We're just so happy here. We've enjoyed getting to know our neighbors, and them getting to know us. The vibrance of the community is everything we thought it would be. We love walking to the dog park. We enjoy walking down the streets and noticing something new each time. And we love the overall diversity of the neighborhood: the people, the structures, and the community activities and events.
Oh, and Brent especially likes Shantytown Pub.
Brent: Yeah, I love that place. I prefer hole-in-the-wall bars.
Angie: And I can't forget Three Layers Coffee House. It reminds me of the cool cafes and coffee houses in Denver. You don't see many around Jacksonville, but I can walk to mine. How cool is that?
What do you hope to see change in the future?
Brent: Main Street, of course. It has the potential to be just like Five Points or San Marco Square; a walkable commercial district full of interesting shops and restaurants.
Angie: But even smaller projects, like filling the vacant lots with new homes and gardens. I'd like to see more of it. I would also like to see some kind of outdoor festival too, again, like the "Affair in the Square" in San Marco or the Riverside Arts Market. The outdoor First Friday parties are awesome, and I think they attract more people from outside the neighborhood than the indoor parties.
Do you plan on participating in any neighborhood events or organizations?
Angie: We've done First Friday parties, the Arts & Crafts Fair that was part of the last Holiday Home Tour, and the Dog Days in the Park festival in Confederate Park. I'd like to participate in some of the beautification projects in the neighborhood too, like what Preservation SOS organizes.
Brent: Personally, I'm planning on getting involved in the Brew Crew and Block Captain activities. And we still haven't gone on a Home Tour yet, but hopefully we can make it to the Spring Home Tour . It’s coming up.
What advice would you have for someone considering a move to the Springfield Historic District?
Brent: Come over and see it. Spend time here. Drive through at night. Hang out. We happened to downtown at a Suns baseball game at the same time we were seriously considering putting in an offer on our house. After the game, around midnight, we drove over to the house and just sat on the porch. We sat for hours, just watching and listening. It was fine, and anyone interested should do the same thing to make sure they’re comfortable.
Angie: It's a neighborhood in transition, so there's still work to do. Bring patience and acceptance. And bring your passion. We love it, so I hope you do too.