Conservation meets preservation at North Florida Land Trust’s new home

Conservation meets preservation at North Florida Land Trust’s new home
North Florida Land Trust Board President Keith Holt cuts the ribbon for the nonprofit’s new office while staff, contractors and members of the community look on.

The North Florida Land Trust held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony April 4 for its new headquarters in the historic Brewster Hospital building at 843 W. Monroe St. in LaVilla. The nonprofit land conservation organization is leasing the approximately 5,700-square-foot building from the City of Jacksonville.

            Prior to the move from their Riverside office at 2038 Gilmore St., NFLT engaged with Danis Construction, LLC to make significant improvements to the historic building to create the office space and to bring it into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. The renovation process, which began in January, included reconfiguration of rooms for more functional office space, modification of restrooms, refinishing of the original wood floor, and additional lighting, as well as a new parking lot and landscaping. Renovation costs were nearly $541,000, of which the land trust paid $391,000, and is seeking donations for a matching grant of $187,000 from an anonymous donor and a challenge grant of $100,000 from the Delores Barr Weaver Fund.

Members of the Brewster and Community Nurses Alumni Association attended the grand opening: Doris T. Putman, Lemira Hinson, Doretha Brown, Sylvania Dawson, Lula Jenkins, Albertha Bevel and Thelma Hall
Members of the Brewster and Community Nurses Alumni Association attended the grand opening: Doris T. Putman, Lemira Hinson, Doretha Brown, Sylvania Dawson, Lula Jenkins, Albertha Bevel and Thelma Hall

           The Victorian building, originally built at 915 W. Monroe St. in 1885 as a private residence for Hans Christian Peters, a meat dealer, was moved to its current location at the corner of Monroe and Davis Streets in 2005 and the City made extensive renovations to the building at a cost of $1.2 million in 2007-2009. NFLT will occupy a portion of the building and will designate a room on the first floor that will serve as a memorial to the history of Brewster Hospital and a meeting room for the Brewster and Community Nurses Alumni Association.

Gordon Steadman, Danis Construction vice president of business development, chats with North Florida Land Trust President Jim McCarthy, on the porch of the renovated Brewster Hospital, now headquarters for the nonprofit land conservation organization.
Gordon Steadman, Danis Construction vice president of business development, chats with North Florida Land Trust President Jim McCarthy, on the porch of the renovated Brewster Hospital, now headquarters for the nonprofit land conservation organization.

            Brewster Hospital opened in 1901 as Jacksonville’s first hospital for African Americans and a training school for nurses. After it outgrew the two-story red brick home, the hospital moved to the Springfield area in 1931, where served the community until 1966. A year after the hospital closed it re-opened as the Methodist Hospital, which was acquired by what is now UF Health Jacksonville.            

For more information about the history of Brewster Hospital and its nurses, visit https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=northeast_fla_books

By Kate A. Hallock, Resident Community News

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