April 2021
Dear Friends,

It was such a beautiful March day, that I just had to hang the flags to remember what the museum looks like when it is open!

The inside is completely undone and will be all new when we reopen, hopefully for the 21st Annual Winter Celebration on December 4. We are preparing for it with all fingers crossed that COVID will be a thing of the past by then. We are going to call it "21st in 21!" It will be very special.

Meanwhile, we are hoping to maybe start opening up a few buildings with ongoing restrictions, but we'll have to see how things go in the next weeks. MMHS signed onto a commitment on March 29 with many other cultural and arts organizations in Jacksonville, stating:

The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society will join other cultural organizations of Jacksonville and the unions representing stagehands and musicians in Northeast Florida to announce that they will maintain COVID-19 protocols for the time being.  

We thank Mayor Curry and the City of Jacksonville for their leadership on public health and relief funding, which made a limited return to business possible for the cultural community.
We recognize that we have a duty of care to those who enter our institutions, and participate in our programs. Continuing our COVID-19 protocols is necessary at this time to protect the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, artists, and audience members.
The COVID-19 protocols of each organization may vary, but they contain common elements such as temperature checks, requiring masks, and social distancing measures. The public is encouraged to contact each individual institution for specific measures that are in place at that organization.
Each organization will continue assessing its protocols based on local data and the CDC guidelines, and we all look forward to the day when we can enjoy the arts and entertainment again without restrictions.
American Federation of Musicians Local 444
Beaches Fine Arts
Beaches Museum
Cathedral Arts Project
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
Don’t Miss a Beat
Florida Ballet
Florida Theatre
Friday Musicale
FSCJ Artist Series – Broadway in Jacksonville
Hope at Hand
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 115
Jacksonville Children’s Chorus
Jacksonville Dance Theatre
Jacksonville Historical Society
Jacksonville Symphony
Mandarin Museum and Historical Society
Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Science and History
Players by the Sea
Riverside Arts Market
Springfield Preservation and Revitalization
The Art Center Cooperative
Theatre Jacksonville
WJCT Public Media

Sandy Arpen

Remembering April 1, 1864

"Lt. George Thompson Garrison was one of 66 individuals aboard the Maple Leaf in the early morning hours of April 1st 1864, when the ship hit a submerged torpedo in the Saint Johns River. As Acting Quartermaster of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment, Lt. Garrison was responsible for ensuring that each soldier in the various companies of the regiment had the clothing, equipment, tents, and other supplies they needed.  On this trip, Garrison was coming down to Jacksonville to procure tents for his regiment." (Fritz Garrison)

We have copies of his letters regarding this event thanks to the generosity of Fritz Garrison, great-grandson of Lt. Garrison, who was the son of abolitionist and friend of Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison.

On April 1, 1864, Lt. Garrison wrote this letter, which was received by his mother because the mail bag that held it was recovered from the ship.

April 1. Left Palatka last night for Jacksonville on board the steamer Mapleleaf at 10 oclock. At 4 oclock this morning the boat was sunk by a rebel torpedo, and several lives are supposed to be lost. She sunk at a place called Mandarin Point, twelve miles above Jacksonville. We had to row to Jacksonville with wind and tide against us. I got off with a ducking and my knapsack and blankets. We were expecting every moment to be captured by the rebels, but fortunately for us they were not on hand to take us. On the whole it was a very narrow escape for all of us.”

May we remember that night which created the National Historic Landmark shipwreck site in the St. Johns and took the lives of four men. If you stop and will hear the whistle of the ship blowing endlessly, waking everyone up in Mandarin for miles.

And let us thank Dr. Keith Holland and his crew of volunteer divers from the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc. who braved darkness and danger to dig a hole eight feet deep into the river bottom to reach the remains of the cargo hold, which still holds the greatest collection of Civil War material anywhere - ever. They recovered thousands of artifacts. (left to right in photo: Steve Michaelis, Larry Tipping, Chris Manley and Keith Holland)
Very Special
Harriet Beecher Stowe ZOOM Event
April 14 at 6:30 PM
Please register - click here:

Rodney Hurst Receives Stetson Kennedy Foundation Award

A week after the Third Thursday Lecture, Rodney Hurst received his “Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award.” This award, on behalf of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, recognizes an individual’s outstanding achievement in promoting environmental kinship, human rights or the preservation of traditional culture.

Rodney received the award in the James Weldon Johnson Park (formerly Hemming Plaza), where the Civil Rights events, including Ax Handle Saturday, occurred.

In Our Collection

A very interesting map. Look how few homes are on this 1940 map. The 1940 Mandarin census showed that there were 1558 residents; 1131 White and 427 Black.

JaxBest Awards for 2021 are now open for voting for museums.

As you know - MMHS won the 2019 and 2020 award for Best History Museum. This year all museums of any type and any size are all in the same it is highly unlikely we could compete with museums like MOSH, MOCA and Cummer....but let's give it a can vote once a day until April 11 and the winner will be announced April 19.

Let's show our Mandarin spirit and let the world know how much we love the history of our community! Send to your friends.

Thank you to our Master Gardner volunteers, the Late Bloomers Garden Club and to the
Florida Native Plant Society

In March, Master Gardner George DeMarino planted the Spring garden; the IXIA Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society came out twice to remove invasive coral ardisia from the park; and the Late Bloomers Garden Club removed invasive plants as well. We are grateful to all who maintain WJHP as one of the prettiest in Jax.
Happy Spring from Walter Jones Historical Park

Mandarin Museum and the Schoolhouse are usually open on Saturdays from 9-4. All other historic buildings in Walter Jones Historical Park (11964 Mandarin Rd.) AND the Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Rd.), are usually open from 10-2 on the first Saturday.

School field trips and youth or adult group tours are scheduled mostly during the week - by appointment.

However, these activities are not available at this time due to COVID-19. Reopening will be announced as soon as a date is determined.

We always need more volunteers, as they are the backbone of our organization. If you would like more information CLICK HERE or email Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator at and she will give you a call and tell you all about the opportunities we have. Information is also available by clicking HERE
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Thank you to our community partners

MISSION: Mandarin Museum & Historical Society shares the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire.

Mandarin Museum & Historical Society