Memorial Park placed on National Register of Historic Places

The base of “Spiritualized Life,” the bronze statue in Memorial Park, was empty of water for years before it was restored in 2015.

The base of “Spiritualized Life,” the bronze statue in Memorial Park, was empty of water for years before it was restored in 2015.

After Hurricane Irma surged through Riverside Sept. 11, the announcement that the U.S. Department of the Interior has added the 93-year-old Memorial Park to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is a shot in the arm for the beloved park.

The designation comes on the heels of the United States World War I Centennial Commission’s recent designation of the park’s bronze statue, “Spiritualized Life,” as a “World War I Centennial Memorial.”

“Memorial Park has always been Jacksonville’s premier historic park. And now, thanks to the efforts of the Memorial Park Association and especially the tenacity of past association president Agnes Danciger, we are on the Register and nationally recognized as such. What an honor to achieve this status,” said Percy Rosenbloom III, president of the Memorial Park Association.

Designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers and dedicated on Dec. 25, 1924, Memorial Park is the only park in the state dedicated to the 1,220 Floridians who lost their lives in service during World War I.

Although the recently renovated statue was largely untouched and most of the trees were spared by the hurricane and resulting storm surge, there was significant damage to the park’s newly restored lawn, benches and the historic balustrade lining the riverfront behind the statue.

“Memorial Park is a community treasure that continues to draw people of all ages to a diverse variety of special events, or to simply relax and admire its beauty. This designation will help this landmark continue to attract old and new visitors for generations to come,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Established in 1986, the Memorial Park Association is a nonprofit with the mission to enhance, promote and preserve Memorial Park as the premier historic park in the City of Jacksonville.

Five years ago, the association initiated major planning efforts to restore and rehabilitate Memorial Park to its original grandeur, then in 2014 launched a $5.2 million capital campaign to begin work as delineated in the master plan. Now, funds are being raised to address the damage from Hurricane Irma. To donate to the hurricane recovery fund, visit memparkjax.org/donate/

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic places, which includes the Historic Districts of Downtown Jacksonville, Riverside, Avondale, Old Ortega, and Springfield, as well as the Cummer Gardens, Epping Forest, the Florida Theatre, Riverside Baptist Church, the San Jose Country Club, South Jacksonville Grammar School (now The Lofts San Marco), and the St. James Building (now City Hall), among nearly a hundred other sites in Duval County.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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