Garden to replace historic home on River Road

Garden to replace historic home on River Road
Historic 1927 photo of River Road, which at that time was known as Rialto Place. The house in the center is 1922 River Road, which was recently torn down by owner Michael Ward of CSX, to make way for a garden. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Wood Collection)

Although San Marco residents may have been astounded the City allowed the new owner of 1922 River Road to demolish a beloved neighborhood landmark, what was done was completely legal.

Written up by in Wayne Wood’s bible of Jacksonville architecture, “Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage, Landmarks for its Future,” the historic residence at 1922 River Road “was not the most significant architectural gem in San Marco, but was a very important contributing structure to the overall historic neighborhood,” Wood said.

The house was purchased recently for $2.1 million by Michael Ward, chairman/CEO of CSX. Ward followed the city’s requirements for receiving a demolition permit, said City Council President Lori Boyer, who represents San Marco.

A prior owner chose to opt out when informed the structure was going to be placed on the list of designated local or National Register historic properties, compiled by the San Marco Preservation Society in the early 1990s, said Boyer. Because the city’s Historic Preservation Commission did not dispute the request at that time, the demolition request was not required to be forwarded to the commission for its review, she said.

Requirements to demolish existing structures in Jacksonville include a permit application signed by the owner and contractor with notaries; zoning approval; a plumbing permit for sewer disconnect or septic tank abandonment, and paying a $54 fee, wrote City Spokeswoman Tia Ford in an email.

Ward said he owns three riverfront parcels on River Road – 1930, 1922 and 1908. On the vacant lot at 1930 River Road, his plan is to build a traditional white brick house, which is being designed by Avondale Architect Richard Skinner and Associates. “It is not going to be a McMansion but will be of a size in keeping with the character of the neighborhood,” Ward said.

Meanwhile, next door at 1922 River Rd., where the historic 1927 Tudor once stood, Ward said he is working with a landscape architect and plans to plant a garden with lots of vegetation and many trees on the site.

“It will be a nice serene space next to my home at 1930 River Road,” he said. “That house was in tough condition and really couldn’t be renovated. It just happened to be next to the house I am building,” he continued.

The 1908 property where a gray Cape Cod Style-house now stands and where Ward currently resides, he said he intends to convert into a guest house after his new home is built.

Ward said in the past he has owned other homes in San Marco and loves the community. “The real attraction of San Marco is the diversity of different home types in the neighborhood,” he said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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