February  2018 
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

I would like to take this opportunity to give a public shout-out of thanks to our daughter Kate for the surprise present to me and the entire MMHS family in January - when she updated and enhanced our website!

The current site was originally developed by volunteer Heather Benfield  (we are grateful to her for that) and it served us very well for many years. However, I (not being a tech savy person at all) tried to maintain it and I did a so-so job at best...and it became disorganized and out-of-date looking.

So, while Kate was home over Christmas, she downloaded new features, cleaned it up, organized the content, made it more visually attractive and gave it a new and fresh look overall. There are lots of links and photos and expanded information. You can learn some great history just from our website and all the connections from it.

If you haven't seen it yet, please take some time to browse around by clicking here.

Thank you Kate!

Sandy Arpen
Frog Painting starts up again
February 10

This poor Mandarin frog was freezing up in the crazy snowstorm in Charleston, SC! He's peeking out of that snow with his big blue eyes - wondering what happened!

January has been a hard month for the Frog Man, as the weather has made it very difficult to make and paint frogs. HOWEVER, he has made enough to have a painting party in February IF it is not raining or too cold.
So, the next frog painting will be Saturday, February 10 from 10-12 at the museum. Reserve your spot please at or 268-0784.  20 frogs only. 

Third Thursday Lecture
February 15   
6:30 PM
Norman Studios 


In honor of Black History Month, our February program will feature Norman Studios one of  the nation's first film studios to produce films starring African-American characters in positive, non-stereotypical roles.
Devan Lesley, Norman Studios Co-Chair, will show a documentary and discuss Jacksonville's silent film history and its unique contribution to African-American cinema. Hollywood East: Florida's Silent Film Legacy explores  how the top motion picture producers of the day came to reside in Northeast Florida and why they left for the West Coast. Here in Jacksonville, it boils down to a bar scene-gone-wild, a mayoral candidate with an agenda and a fiercely protective patent owner whose name you definitely know! 
Hollywood East was produced by Nadia Ramoutar and Steph Borklund in collaboration with the Norman Studios, a nonprofit organization working to restore and reopen Jacksonville's sole surviving silent film studio complex, which is still standing in the historic Old Arlington neighborhood. There, late filmmaker Richard Norman produced some of the nation's earliest all-black-cast films during the 1910s and '20s. Its unique place in cinema and civil rights history helped land the site a  National Historic Landmark designation in 2016. Preservationists ultimately plan to give the site a big comeback as a world-class film, learning, research and tourism center.

The Third Thursday Lectures are presented by the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in partnership with the Mandarin Community Club. This event will be presented on Thursday, February 15 at the Mandarin Community Club, which is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Refreshments are at 6:30 pm with the presentation at 7:00 pm. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, call 268-0784.   


MMHS is grateful to be the major beneficiary of the Rotary Club of Mandarin's big  event on  April 19.  The annual "Laughs for Charity" typically draws over 300 guests to the The Comedy Zone at the Ramada Inn and helps the Mandarin Rotary raise  money for non-profit projects in the community. 
All proceeds from this event will go to the Mandarin Museum expansion project!  
This event, which includes heavy hors d'oeurves, wine, auctions and a full-of-laughs family comedy show is so much fun. a wonderful evening.

ALSO - we would like to provide some items for the silent and live auctions. So if you have anything you would like to donate for those, please let us know at 268-0784 or
We will notify everybody how to obtain a ticket as soon as they are printed.
Volunteer Spotlight - Janet Shelfer 

Janet (left) with her museum partner, Maureen Orr

"I visited Walter Jones Park before the museum was built," says Volunteer Janet Shelfer, a Jacksonville native and member of a family that has been in Northeast Florida for many generations.
Janet is an Audiologist at Mayo Clinic.  She chose that field when she was a student at FSU because it is the marriage of science, physics and the desire to help in the betterment of people's lives.
"As I would come to the park as a new resident in Mandarin, I watched the construction of the museum with much curiosity," she continues. 

"Being a lover of history, once I discovered what the Museum was going to be, I was drawn more and more to this area an I have found the museum a wonderful way to learn about it."
Janet has been involved with the Museum for 10 years.  On the third Saturday of each month, you will find her and her museum partner, Maureen Orr, who describes Janet as a talented musician who plays the guitar and has a lovely singing voice,  but most of all is an interesting friend and humanitarian.
"I am blessed to work with her each month," says Maureen.
Janet loves to travel and as she traveled to Alaska her interest in that area's history resulted in her co-authoring a non-fiction book, Taku, about pioneering Alaskans who helped Alaska's history. (The book is available in the Museum gift shop.) She also has a second-degree black belt in Karate and a brown belt in Judo!   
Janet looks forward to retirement from her work as an audiologist later this year.
"I just wonder what might be ahead for me," she says.   
A note to Janet - just be sure you keep the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in your plans.  You are a valuable asset to us.

Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator
Congratulations to Volunteer Laura D'Alisera
Many know Laura from our "Under the Oaks" music jams where you see her every month helping, playing the guitar and singing out folk songs. What most don't know is that Laura has had a very distinguished career of public and human service. She is now retired, but  was  recently honored TWICE for her lifetime of achievements.

Her recent honors were from Leadership Jacksonville, with the  2017 Tillie K. Fowler Award, and in January at the 50th Anniversary of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. Both of these awards are very prestigious and we congratulate Laura on receiving them. We also thank her for her decades of public service to the community through many roles, including with the City of Jacksonville.

Learn more about Leadership Jacksonville by clicking here and about the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission here
Looking Back on January 
January was a quiet kind of month, like the calm after a storm...or just after a very busy December. No frogs. No music. Lots of cold and rainy weather.

BUT...we had a very exciting call from Suzanne Bowden Hardison who lives in Albany, GA. Suzanne grew up on Loretto Road, the daughter of Upton and Sally Bowden and the granddaughter of Fleming (who built the historic home still standing at 3323 Loretto Road, was a blacksmith, a farmer and Supervisor of Elections for Duval County for over 20 years), and Nettie (Ponce) Bowden. She had several items that she wanted to donate to the Mandarin Museum. So volunteers Tracey and Sandy Arpen and Pam Neumann drove to Albany and picked up some wonderful objects that are connected to some also wonderful former Mandarin residents.

We are grateful to Suzanne for these gifts to our archival collection. The tools and the jug below (plus two others) will be on display in the barn.

#1 A little brown water jug with a corn cob stopper that was owned by Mossa Anderson. Mr. Anderson attended the St. Joseph's schoolhouse as a child! He lived at the southeast corner of San Jose and Loretto Road, had a mule and wagon and would help others with their gardens. He often worked in Upton Bowden's property and gave this jug to Mr. Bowden sometime in the 1960s.

#2 A Charlie Brown pot, c 1950s, given to Sally Bowden by the artist.

#3 A tool that belonged to Upton Bowden - can anyone identify? Is it a cant? Call us if you know - 268-0784.
#4 A scythe that belonged to Fleming Bowden.

Augusta Savage Cultural Arts Festival

This is not our event, but  one that will be of interest to many. Augusta Savage was born in Green Cove Springs in 1892. She grew up to become a renown sculptress, teacher and leader in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. She is probably best known for her work, a sculpture called Lift Every Voice and Sing (also known as The Harp), that was inspired by the famous song of James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson of Jacksonville. This sculpture was displayed at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Unfortunately, it has been destroyed.

February 24, 2018
11:00 am to 6:00pm - Spring Park, Green Cove Springs, FL
Featuring: Kenney Seabrook Jazz Quartet, Buffalo Soldier, Fort Mose Militia Reenactment
Food / Retail vendors and much, much more!!!
All events are free and open to the public.

Please contact Mr. Eugene Francis at for more information
Meet the Divers Day     
The monthly "Meet the
Maple Leaf Divers" day at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park. 
Look for the "Divers IN" flag and the Maple Leaf  divers next on Saturday, February 17 - from 12-4.

Meet and talk with Dr. Keith Holland and the men who found the Maple Leaf shipwreck and recovered the Civil War artifacts from this National Historic Landmark site in the St. Johns River at Mandarin Point. This is a unique and special opportunity to learn about Civil War history. 
Historic Store and Post Office Open
The historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office is open from noon to 4 pm on Saturday, February 3. Located at 12471 Mandarin Road.
The old Mandarin Store and Post Office evokes memories of small town and village general stores across America. It was the hub of village life from the time it opened in 1911 until it closed in 1964.  

 "Under the Oaks" Music Jams  
The monthly "Under the Oaks" music jam will take  on February 4 at Walter Jones Historical Park from 2-4. Bring an acoustic instrument if you would like to play - listeners are always welcome. Everybody bring a lawn chair. The Mandarin Museum and St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open during this event. WEATHER PERMITTING!


February 3 -  Store and Post Office open 12-4
February 4 - Music Under the Oaks community music jam 2-4
February 10 - Frog painting party 10-12
February 15 - Third Thursday Lecture - Devan Leslie, Norman Studios
February 17 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
March 3 - Store and Post Office open 12-4
March 4 - Music Under the Oaks community music jam
March 17- "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4  
March 31 and April 1 - Mandarin Art Festival - Mandarin Community Club - Store and Post Office open both days 
April 1 -  NO Music Under the Oaks community music jam due to Art Festival 
April 19 - Rotary Club of Mandarin  "Laughs for Charity" event 
April 21 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4 
December 1 - 19th Annual Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Historical Park

Mandarin Museum (11964 Mandarin Road) is open every Saturday from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park .

The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road)  is open from 12-4 on the first Saturday of every month (except April 1). 
School tours and adult group tours are scheduled during the week by appointment. Call 268-0784 or email us at
Follow us on Facebook. Click here to check it out.   
We always need volunteers!  
Our faithful Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Suhey, is just waiting for some new volunteers to join her merry team. Don't worry, she won't just throw you into anything - you'll have time to learn and watch and do until you feel comfortable. And she's so nice to work with!

We have some extra needs coming up that will stress our team, so it would really help to have some more folks to help:
  • On Mandarin Community Club's Art Festival weekend (March 31 and April 1) we have the museum and schoolhouse open on Saturday as usual AND the Store and Post Office are open for both full days of the festival.
  • We would like to have all the buildings open the first Saturday of every month from 12-4, starting in May. So we would need a docent at the museum, the schoolhouse, the Store and Post Office, the barn, the winery and the farmhouse in the afternoon those days.

So please, if you ever even thought you might be interested, send Paula and email at  or call 268-0784 and leave a message, and Paula will call you back. Take a look at our website for more information in general about our volunteer needs. Thank you for your consideration. 

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 
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