Historic St. Nicholas home evokes images of classic holiday movie

Alan Pickert on the front porch of his 1882 home in St. Nicholas.
Alan Pickert on the front porch of his 1882 home in St. Nicholas.

For St. Nicholas resident Alan Pickert and his wife, Linda, living in one of the 10 oldest houses in Jacksonville is a dream come true.   

Just a few blocks from where the Pickerts were living in an old “fixer-upper” home Alan and Linda and their four kids moved into 18 years ago was an even older one at 1230 Palmer Terrace. “Linda would often come home from walking our dog, Bella, and talk about that beautiful house on Palmer Terrace. She called it her dream home,” said Pickert, “and we were able to buy it six years ago.”

Historic Landmark plaque on the Pickert home in St. Nicholas
Historic Landmark plaque on the Pickert home in St. Nicholas

In fact, Linda’s dream home is a piece of Jacksonville history that was written up in historian Wayne Wood’s book, “Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage – Landmarks for the Future” and deemed a historic landmark by the Jacksonville Historic Landmark Commission. 

Built circa. 1882, it is known as the “Judge Rhyden Call Residence.” According to Wood, “Call came to Jacksonville in 1880 and began practicing law. He was a member of the City Council for six years, Circuit Judge and then U.S. District Judge for 14 years.” Upon his marriage in 1887 to Ida Holmes, the Judge and his wife moved into this “one-and-a-half story house which features a full veranda, three dormers and ornamental wooden shingles on the side gables.”  

Pickert Family
Pickert Family

Both of Pickert’s old homes, past and present, bring to mind the classic 1946 movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Of their first home, Alan said, “It reminded us of that drafty old place George Bailey and his bride turned into a loving home, and that’s what we did, too.”

Also, for Pickert and his family, the holiday classic is an ongoing model for living life with gratitude, generosity and integrity. A partner at the law firm of Terrell Hogan, Pickert was named Jacksonville’s 2017 Lawyer of the Year by the Financial News & Daily Record for successfully handling more than 400 wrongful death lawsuits, including having obtained one of the largest awards in the history of Vaccine Court in Washington, D.C., for a child injured by the DTaP vaccine (autism).

“It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice,” said Pickert, downplaying his accomplishments in the legal profession over the past 27 years. Beyond his legal career, Pickert has worked tirelessly in the philanthropic arena, supporting the Special Olympics, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, and served as chair of HEAL (Healing Every Autistic Life). He has also worked with the YMCA Yates Gift Giving Campaign (toddlers to seniors) and Evan’s Hope to Cure ALS.

Little Free Library
Little Free Library

Another gesture that reflects Pickert’s generous nature (much like that of his hero, George Bailey) is the tiny replica of the historic home that sits out in front beyond the hedges. It is “The Little Free Library,” created by the Pickert’s daughter, Kaitlyn. The library is restocked with books monthly for readers of every age. “I love to read,” said Pickert. “We have a library in the house with more than 1,000 books and I love watching the small neighborhood children stop to look at the books and, hopefully, find something they like.”

Pickert-Sumner wedding, May 2018
Pickert-Sumner wedding, May 2018

Both Alan and his wife, Linda (a fitness trainer), enjoy gardening. Together, they are constantly beautifying their three-acre yard by planting dozens of blooms. Gazing out at his garden through one of the house’s original 8-foot-tall windows, Pickert proudly points out the 48 confederate jasmine plants around the tennis court, the 74 boxwoods, 11 crape myrtles and 50-plus ligustrum, 22 hydrangeas, 24 azalea bushes, 12 rose bushes, eight camellia bushes, etc., all of which were carefully planted by the two of them. “Rest assured, I am every nursery’s dream in the spring,” he confessed, laughing.

Last May, in the full bloom of spring, the Pickerts’ daughter, Rachel, married John Sumner in the garden. The happy wedding picture of Alan, Linda, and their family, Kaitlyn, Rachel (husband John), Reade, and son, Ford, is just one more indication of the wonderful life being lived on Palmer Terrace.

Susan D. Brandenburg
Resident Community News

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