A legacy in stone, on paper: Historian Wayne Wood releases new book celebrating Jacksonville’s architectural history

A legacy in stone, on paper: Historian Wayne Wood releases new book celebrating Jacksonville’s architectural history
Wayne Wood

Jacksonville historian Dr. Wayne Wood has written a new book about the city’s historical architecture and notable landmarks.

Titled “Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future,” the book will be released in early December and pays homage to the iconic buildings and landmarks that have helped define Jacksonville’s landscape and architectural identity.

If the title sounds familiar to some, it’s because Wood published an earlier book of the same title in 1989, but thanks to several factors — including the technological and publishing advancements since then — Wood said the book releasing this month is “the book I always wanted to write.”

Following the success of his 1989 book, Wood said he was repeatedly approached to release a new edition, though for many years he was “recalcitrant” to do so “because as an artist, once you’ve done something, it’s not as enjoyable to do the same thing over and over again. It’s always wonderful to create new things.”

Still, with Jacksonville approaching its bicentennial year and the opportunity to feature more buildings and landmarks in a new book, Wood wasn’t able to get the idea out of his head until, he said, he finally decided, “Heck, let’s do it.”

For the next year and a half, Wood worked with a “small advisory committee,” including Joel McEachin, former supervisor of the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Committee and the chief researcher for Wood’s 1989 book, and photographer Mark Krancer who worked as principal photographer with a team to take the 1,300-plus photographs featured in this new volume — all of which are in color, unlike the book’s predecessor.

“The original book back in ’89 — like I said, we had dozens, if not hundreds of people work on it — this book, because of modern technology, being done with computers, it’s been a very small advisory committee of people who’ve helped with it and basically have done the entire book with the help of Joel and the photographers, we’ve done it ourselves,” Wood said. “So it’s very rewarding and very — I just feel like it’s one of my major achievements to have a book published that’ll be part of the legacy of Jacksonville for generations to come.”

Wood is looking forward to introducing people to some of the city’s newer historical buildings — buildings that, in 1989, hadn’t reached the 50-year threshold to be considered historic and were, therefore, not included in the book — as well as younger buildings he feels will become significant influences in Jacksonville’s architectural and historical identity.

“There are buildings that are very new — buildings that are barely 10 years old in this book but because they’re significant and they’ll stand the test of time, at least in my opinion as Jacksonville’s chief architectural historian, we need to celebrate these buildings and chronicle them now so that like I say, 100 years from now, this book is gonna still be out there,” he said.

Wood has also taken this opportunity to feature historically and culturally significant landmarks that are not necessarily buildings. Compiled into a section titled “Unusual Structures,” this includes “the Treaty Oak to sculptures to things that can only be seen from outer space and just amazing parts of Jacksonville’s visual landscape that mostly are unknown that are going to be a wonderful pleasant surprise when people see some of the unique, sometimes quirky but always pretty amazing things that we have in our midst that are truly part of our visual landscape even though they’re not really buildings.”

He hopes this book will also serve as a reminder for the community and the architects of tomorrow that the “buildings that are being built today, we want to encourage them not only to be wonderful works of art that we share as a community visually but also buildings that are worthy of preservation in the future.”

The book has been underwritten by the Jesse Ball duPont Fund and supported by donations from Preston Haskell and the Ida M. Stevens Foundation. The Jacksonville Historical Society (JHS) is publishing it and, as JHS Chief of Staff and Communications Director Kate Hallock wrote in an e-mail, all book sale proceeds will benefit the society.

“The potential for more than $100,000 in book sale revenue will have a huge impact on the Jacksonville Historical Society’s annual budget, especially in 2023 as we focus fundraising efforts on the Casket Factory/Music History Museum project,” Hallock wrote. “This is the second major book in two years authored by Wayne Wood to benefit the historical society; the other was ‘LIFE: The Untold Story of Charles Adrian Pillars,’ which debuted in December 2020. Both books are rich in history and images, and will make excellent holiday gifts.”

“Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future” will be available for purchase at all local bookstores, as well as the Jacksonville Historical Society and, of course, online.

Details surrounding book signings and other events will be made available on the JHS website.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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