JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Intense flames could be seen from a distance when a fire broke through a historic building in downtown Jacksonville over the weekend.
News4Jax learned that this wasn’t the first fire reported at the abandoned Moulton and Kyle funeral home and that law enforcement agencies have been called to the address in the past. The city has confirmed 19 cases involving law enforcement agencies over the past 10 years. These cases include:
Harassment board high (2)
Harassment: Graffiti (1)
Junk vehicle (1)
Unsafe structure (2)
The building, which had 107 years of history, was destroyed in an hour on Saturday. Over 140 firefighters and several engines were called in to fight the fire late into the night.
Before the fire on the weekend, a fire broke out in the building in February 2019. The abandoned building is often broken into by homeless people looking for a place to stay warm during the winter months or sleep all year round.
City records indicate that Robert J. Peeples of Peeples Family Funeral Homes owns the property on Union Street. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Dr. Wayne Wood of the Jacksonville Historical Society said the city lost a “gem” and called the fire a tragedy.
“This was one of the most precious landmarks in downtown Jacksonville,” said Wood. “It’s a tragedy because there are so few great historic landmarks in downtown Jacksonville after the great 1901 fire.”
The building was designed by Leroy Sheftall and Earl Mark, who were inspired by the American architectural design of Frank Lloyd Wright, and it was built by Henry Klutho.
“Moulton and Kyle funeral home was a direct derivative of Jacksonville’s oldest, a funeral home founded by Calvin Oak in the 1850s,” said Wood.
The city confirmed that prior to the June 2020 fire, the building was convicted of a partial roof collapse. The city says the owner will take steps to demolish the structure and that he has been in contact with them.
The state firefighter is investigating the cause of the fire.
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