August 2020   

Dear Friends,

When COVID-19 closed us down in March, we thought we'd be back up certainly by August....but clearly that is not going to be the case. With Florida being the epicenter of infection right now, there is no way. As a matter of fact, the Winter Celebration Committee met recently and we decided that even by December, it is unlikely that we will be able to gather large groups to the park. The committee includes Janet Shelfer, Maureen Orr, Hope Ferrigno, Merry Hopper, Deborah McGlaughlin, Paula Suhey and Sandy Arpen.

Therefore, we would like to share this announcement from the Committee Chair, Janet Shelfer:

The Celebration of Mandarin in Times of Uncertainty
          Let's Support Our Community Businesses

"With the spirit of hope and healing, so demonstrated by generations past, our treasured Winter Celebration will not be held this year. Of utmost concern is our community's health and well-being.

The Mandarin Museum and Historic Society wants to offer heartfelt thankfulness to our community including its residents, businesses, schools, partnering nonprofits, medical and humanitarian entities, along with local and distant contributors to make our mission possible. We continue with dedication in the exploration and expansion of our community's history, its preservation and most importantly, the sharing of these discoveries. You, our community and friends, make this vision a reality.

Through the years we have received tremendous support from our community merchants and organizations in having the Winter Celebration. As safety allows, we encourage you to utilize, shop and employ the services of the many businesses and merchants in our community who depend on you for their very existence. And we encourage you to support those nonprofit organizations that give their time as well. Without these partnerships, our community is weakened.

Business Sponsors from 2019 included: The Poppin Box, The Fresh Market, Mitchell Wright (Edward Jones), Minuteman Press, Hagan Ace, Zulos Pizza, Metro Diner, PDQ Julington Creek, Twisted Compass Brewing, American Legion Post 372, and Marco's Pizza.

Our nonprofit friends and organizations from 2019 included: Alliance Francaise de Jacksonville, All-Star Quilters, Don McCoin and Frank Cashman (antique cars), Clay County Swing Band, City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation, Civil War Living History (In Search of Valor), local authors June Weltman, Jane Wood and David Gaslin, Education First, Fort Mose Historical Society, Golden Teacups, Greenscape, Gullah Geeche Nation, Jacksonville Naval Museum, Mandarin Garden Club, Mandarin Community Club, UF Extension - Master Gardners, Plein Aire artists, North Florida Folk Network, Rotary Club of Mandarin, Ryan Sinclair (African Drumming), Rob Mattson - Union Naval.

Let's turn our Thankfulness into active Gratitude thereby helping to ensure a better future for Mandarin as we daily evolve into its history!

With special thanks we honor our supporters and look forward to having a Great Winter Celebration in 2021!"

Janet Shelfer with WWII Honoree Jim Snellen at the 2019 Winter Celebration 
Good News in July 
There is always good news! But this month, the Walter Jones Historical Park was the beneficiary of an Eagle Scout Award Project. Brigham Pratt, an Eagle candidate from Troop 110, based at the Church of Our Saviour, noticed the terrible condition of the garbage cans around the park and decided to make five new ones that will be sturdier and hopefully last
a long time. Sadly, the ones removed were from an Eagle project that served well for about five years until the weather and the constant use wore them down into disrepair.
Brigham designed the new boxes, built them in separate sections and brought them for assembly on July 18. He was helped by members of his troop, his dad, the troop leader and family members of the scouts. You can see by these photos how well built they are - each having four posts buried in the ground for strength.  Brigham is kneeling in front. 
This project took much planning, coordinating and many hours of hard work to complete. We are grateful to Brigham for his gift to the park and the community. Watch for an article about him and his project in the September Mandarin Newsline.
Big Tree Down in Park 
One of the recent storms caused a water oak near the boardwalk to completely uproot and fall. The pink frog that is tied to the base is hanging on for dear life!

This is very common in water oaks, as they have a shallow root system and a short lifespan of 50-60 years. Live oaks, our large and majestic oaks along Mandarin Road, can live hundreds of years and do not tend to uproot like this. When buying new trees for your yard, consider the live oak as a better choice.
A Special Thank You to
Paula Suhey!
When we had to close, we knew that it was absolutely vital to keep our volunteers engaged and interested, as they are the backbone of the organization. Ya'll know that we could not open the doors or host any kind of program or event without our volunteers. And "that's the truth!" 
So, thank goodness we had Paula in the role of Volunteer Coordinator,  the primary communicator  with volunteers. Paula loves to write, and so she has made sure that every single Saturday our volunteers receive a "Volunteer Voice" that updates them on what is happening (or not happening!). But on top of that, she has been featuring different individuals every week so folks will get to know each other even better. In addition, she has made sure that our volunteers have learning opportunities by highlighting a different area of the six museum buildings we manage and the programs within each. Each week she focuses on the history, but also the volunteers who usually work in that area. By doing this, everybody learns about parts of our mission which may have been unfamiliar to them. All of this, I believe, will make our volunteer team more unified and even stronger when we reconvene.  
Paula also has been doing lots of extra things for MMHS during this time - like major Spring cleaning in the office, kitchen and utility closet, as well as a Gift Shop inventory.  
We are fortunate indeed to have Paula in this role and we are grateful for everything she does. She is pictured here from the 2019 Winter Celebration when she was Mrs. Claus. She had so much fun that day with the children and I think it exemplifies the joy and love in her heart that she shares with all of us.
Sandy Arpen 
Honoring Pvt. Marion Losco
This month marks 103 years since the death of Marion Losco, the only man from Mandarin to die in battle during World War I. When he was drafted and then deployed to Europe, he wrote home regularly about missing his family and his Loretto/Mandarin so much. In June, MMHS volunteer and Losco relative, Paul Ghiotto,  had a cross made and dedicated to Marion in the St. Joseph's Cemetery, right next to his mother and father and other family members. The marker is just like the one that is on his grave in France.  
It is time he is remembered here in his home town and in the cemetery of the church where he was baptized and confirmed! Thank you David Losco and Paul Ghiotto  for ALL your efforts to share Marion's story with his community.
PS - Paul compiled all of Marion's letters and other fascinating information into a book, A Soldier's Story, which can be purchased at the Mandarin Museum.  
(Paul is in the yellow shirt and David in the black shirt - below) 

In Our Collection

A fascinating account of the wedding of Major W. W. Webb's daughter
that was published in an English newspaper
The park is still open  
Even as the museum buildings remain closed, our volunteers continue to serve and the park and County Dock are open -  and you never know what you might see there. Here are a few views in July.
Thank you to Gabriele Dempsey for  decorating the museum for 4th of July, to Bob Nay for putting flags in Mandarin Cemetery and to community musicians who have brought music into the park. 
 And also to Sandy Webb and Daniel Weikert from Longleaf Church, playing music from the front porch. Seen on unique percussion is Danny McDermott. 
Gift Shop Items still for Sale
During the time of closure, we have been hurt greatly by the loss of sales through our Gift Shop.

However, we are able to sell frogs (including unpainted ones), books, and artist prints on a 1-on-1 basis. So if you looking for some things to do while we are all on slow-down, consider painting a frog or finding the perfect one for your doorstep, changing out your art with some real Mandarin art, latching on to one of many great books about Mandarin's history, or taking a nap with a special Mandarin throw over your feet.

All you have to do is call 268-0784 and leave a message and we will be happy to call you back and have someone meet you at the museum to make a purchase. This is just a small sampling.


Mandarin Newsline

The August edition of the Mandarin Newsline is out. This free newspaper is our chief way of sharing history stories, events and programs with the public. They are able to publish free papers due to the robust local advertising. Please pay attention to the ads and shop and eat at those businesses that support the community in this way.

To read the entire Newsline click   HERE.

Thank You

During this difficult time when we must remain closed and have no regular income, we are extremely grateful to receive COVID Relief grants of $4000 from Florida Humanities CARES and $8000 from the City of Jacksonville CARES through the 2020 CARES Act.

Florida Humanities and NEH

"Funding has been provided to Mandarin Museum & Historical Society (MMHS) from the National Endowment for the Humanities through a grant from Florida Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020."
"Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by MMHS do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities."

Look at this beautiful river - take some deep breaths, stay calm, be positive and be safe.

Thank you to Board member Gabriele Dempsey for this beautiful image of the St. Johns
at sunset.

If you have any river or park photos you'd like to be considered for this spot - please send a jpeg to

The 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 PO (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. Call 268-0784 or email us at   to make a reservation.    
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 to email Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator 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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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.

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