Defender of Historical past: Legal professional and pilot Ed Sales space works to protect Jacksonville’s structure Jax Day by day Report | Jacksonville Day by day Report
Ed Booth, partner at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, is an attorney Monday through Friday.
When the board-certified aviation attorney and private pilot is away from the cockpit in his spare time, he’s likely helping to preserve Jacksonville’s heritage, including the city’s historic architecture.
“I know we can’t save everything, but we’ve lost a lot,” said Booth, the immediate past president of the Jacksonville Historical Society.
According to the municipal code, a building can be classified as a local historical landmark after 50 years. Since 2005 Booth has kept his “List of Buildings at Risk”.
Many of the city’s most historic buildings were demolished years ago as part of urban renewal, but Booth said there have been some notable bailouts in terms of conservation and reuse.
“The # 1 historic preservation success story in Jacksonville should be the Florida Theater,” he said.
It opened in 1927 and celebrated its 90th anniversary on April 8th by inviting the public to watch a silent film and documentary about the history of the building.
Other success stories include the conversion of the former Duval High School into the Stevens Duval senior apartments in downtown on Ocean Street, the current renovation of the former First Guarantee Bank & Trust building on Bay and Ocean Streets into the Cowford Chophouse and the ongoing maintenance of the steam locomotive at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, Booth said.
Other conservation milestones include the conversion of the former John Gorrie Junior High School in Riverside into condominium and the conversion of the former US Post Office and Federal Court of West Monroe Street into the prosecution.
Also on Booth’s list of successes is the Seminole Club, which now houses the Sweet Pete candy factory and retail store, and the Candy Apple Café.
He admits that there have been conservation attempts that have stalled, particularly two structures in LaVilla.
One of them is Genovar’s Hall, a former nightclub that was a hot spot in the early 20th century when Jacksonville was known as the “Harlem of the South”. The day’s jazz greats including Louie Armstrong and Billie Holliday performed there, but it’s been fenced off for years.
The other is Brewster Hospital, Booth said. The city owns and has maintained what was once the only hospital in Jacksonville for African American Americans, but it stands empty.
“The city has lovingly restored it, but it’s really no use,” said Booth.
Buildings at the top of the currently endangered list include the Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant at the west end of Mathews Bridge and the former Ambassador Hotel Downtown near the Duval County Courthouse.
There is also a conundrum in Jacksonville history – not about the event, but why there is so little record of it. It’s also related to Booth’s interest in aviation and got him on a quest.
Booth said when Charles Lindbergh flew to Jacksonville on his nationwide tour in October 1927, five months after he became the first to fly an airplane across the Atlantic, more than 150,000 people came to see the famous aviator and his Spirit of St. Louis “Who flew from Long Island, NY to Paris.
The puzzle is that there are only five photos of the event in the historical archives.
“I know someone took pictures. You have to be in an attic somewhere, ”Booth said. “My personal mission is to find more pictures from Lindbergh’s visit.”