January 2018 

Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

As we move along right into a brand new year of 2018 we are filled with gratitude for every single one of you - our members, volunteers, community partners, visitors and donors. Mandarin Museum & Historical Society (MMHS) is an organization that really does depend on the support of the community as a whole to make it work. We are here FOR the community because we ARE the community. Mandarin Museum is YOUR museum and we on the board are proud to be the stewards of the MMHS mission - for 27 years now.

As we enter 2018 we have some very exciting things to look forward to and we welcome your new or continued involvement in any way. Happy New Year from the Board of Directors to all of you!
Thank you Mandarin Newsline
We were so proud and grateful to have our Mandarin Museum expansion covered by the Mandarin Newsline on page 1 of the January issue!

Click HERE to read the wonderful story written by Editor, Martie Thompson.

We have just recently started our campaign to raise funds for a much-needed expansion of the Mandarin Museum, to include a new Maple Leaf exhibit hall as well as an expanded archival work room. We welcome donations of all sizes from any individual or business. For more information click HERE.

Mandarin Newsline, a monthly paper that focuses on Mandarin activities and business, is available free to several Mandarin area zip codes. If you do not receive it by mail, you can pick one up at the museum in the future, as we will be having a stack of papers there every month. We depend on this local paper to help us get the word out on our programs and activities, so we ask you to return that support by reading it and by visiting the local businesses who advertise their services.

MMHS has been chosen as the chief recipient of the Rotary Club of Mandarin's 2018 fundraising event!
We are very honored and grateful  to share this information with you:
John Hart, President-elect and Chairman of the Fundraising Committee stated recently: " Rotary Club of Mandarin has announced a partnership for 2018.  Mandarin Rotary's annual fund-raiser "Laughs for Charity" has named MMHS as the major beneficiary  of the Club's event in the Spring of 2018.  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 over $40,000 each year." The date of the event is Thursday evening, April 19.  
As you recall, the "Laughs for Charity" event was a major fundraiser for us in 2015 when it raised $16,000. for the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children. Club members also painted the schoolhouse in one day and helped provide an additional Rotary International grant that funded undeserved schools to be able to take tours to Walter Jones Historical Park through our School Field Trip Program! This year all proceeds 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. We are excited to part of it again and we will do our best to help make it the most successful ever. MMHS will be responsible for selling tickets, which we will make available for purchase soon. We are also wanting 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
Stay tuned. We will update you as soon as all the details are available. 
Winter Celebration - 2017

Board member Hope Ferrigno and volunteer Pheenie Dahl
We heard over and over again that the 2017 Winter Celebration was one of the best EVER! The weather was absolutely perfect, the crowds were larger, the activities were engaging and some of them new, and the music was wonderful! All in all it was a great day for families to come out and enjoy the beauty of the Walter Jones Historical Park and learn about Mandarin's fascinating history.

An event like this takes A LOT of manpower, as you can well imagine. We are planning and working on it for at least six months and then have 75 or so volunteers show up on the day of the event to make it come alive!

We are extremely appreciative of all those volunteers who come out to make this celebration so good - our own MMHS volunteers as well as those from the many non-profit community groups and individuals who participate.

But I would like to point out and thank two MMHS volunteers who work especially long and hard to organize and plan and execute this special event - Hope Ferrigno and Paula Suhey. And also, long-time volunteer Pheenie Dahl.

Hope is a long-time member and volunteer who has served on the Board as Program Chair for many years, with her biggest event always being Winter Celebration. Hope has done a fantastic job every year. However, she has decided that 2017 will be her last year in charge of this event. She is ready to pass the baton to a new person. If you see Hope, please join us in thanking her for her many years of service to Mandarin through her leadership of Winter Celebration. And, if you think you might want to take on her position, I know she would give you much support and guidance.

Pheenie and Hope are long-time and good friends who are often seen serving as docents together. Pheenie and her husband Bob exemplify the type of volunteers we have at MMHS - they are faithful, regular and always willing to jump in and help wherever and whenever we need them. People like Pheenie, Bob and Hope form the very strong foundation we have that makes it possible to fulfill our mission in Mandarin. Thank you, thank you for your commitment.

I also want to recognize and thank our Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Suhey. Paula is not only responsible for having MMHS volunteers in many many places during Winter Celebration, but she also recruits, manages and trains all the volunteers that we have at MMHS. We totally depend on our volunteers to open our doors every Saturday and educate our many visitors, and Paula is the one who makes sure the schedule is fulfilled with smiling folks every week. If you would like to join her happy team - shoot her an email at

        Volunteer Coordinator Paula Suhey

To view a large gallery of photos from this annual event, please click
Thanks to Karen Droege, Gabriele Dempsey and Sandy Arpen for the photos.

Sandy Arpen
Looking Back on the rest of December
We finally got a plaque on the beautiful pump that was donated by Billy Barwald for the schoolhouse. Thanks to the Frog Man for finding this great piece of granite near the farmhouse (We'd love to know the story behind it - did Miss Aggie drag it back from the mountains after one of her trips?) and for attaching the plaque to it. 
Billy was indeed a legend in Mandarin and we miss him greatly.
We were so happy to meet Bob McLendon, the owner of the USS Columbine artifacts that are on display at Mandarin Museum. The Columbine was a Union gunboat that was captured and burned by Confederates north of Welaka on the St. Johns River - believed to be the only instance of a Union gunboat captured by a cavalry unit. We are able to show these objects to the public thanks to Mr. McLendon's loan to us. He now lives out of state, but felt this Civil War material should remain near the St. Johns. For that, we are very appreciative.

You may have noticed some activity down at County Dock. Work has been started by Hayward Construction Group to rebuild the canoe/kayak launch next to the dock. To improve safety, it was necessary to remove the old pilings from Webb's Wharf. These pilings have been there since the late 1800s and were visible only on low tide.

The City of Jacksonville Parks, Recreation and Community Services Dept. promised us that we could have some of the pilings to display.

The pilings are fascinating. The tops of them are covered in barnacles and show much deterioration, but the bottoms are perfectly preserved (they were in the mud) and have the hand made points that helped drive them into the river bottom. Brian, of HCG, moved several examples of them up to the sawmill, on his own time, one afternoon. So please stop by and take a look at them. They are beautiful.
And, we had our last frog painting of the year. Another three generation paint group came. It is always so much fun to watch folks make their very own creations and have so much fun together. 

Third Thursday Lecture
February 15   
6:30 PM
Norman Studios 
Mark your calendars
In honor of Black History Month, our February program will feature a lecture by Rita Reagan, Executive Director of Norman Studios. Rita will inform of us about the history of this wonderful treasure and share some short film clips from their archives. We are so pleased to welcome this historic place as Northeast Florida's second National Historic Landmark site. The first is none other than our own Maple Leaf shipwreck site at Mandarin Point. 
"Founded in 1916 Jacksonville, FL as Eagle Film City and purchased by Richard E. Norman in 1921, the  Norman Studios was among the nation's first to produce "race films" starring African American characters in positive, non-stereotypical roles.

"On the Norman Studios site, some of the first films featuring all African-American casts were produced more than a century ago. This five-building complex is the sole studio remnant of Jacksonville's heyday as the Winter Film Capital of the World..." (
Mandarin's "Frog Man"   
meets a huge goal!
This unbelievable story just keeps growing and growing. Two and a half years ago when this life-time Mandarin resident told us he wanted to raise $50,000 for the Mandarin Museum by making and selling his concrete frogs, we were grateful and excited - but we never in a million years dreamed that he could make this lofty goal. It just seemed way beyond reach.

But guess what? HE DID!!!!!! He has actually surpassed this goal and we have one Saturday left before the new year. He has accomplished this one frog, turtle and squirrel at a time. Making these molds, letting them set for 28 days, painting them and selling them at the museum. He also came up with the idea of the painting parties, which have been a huge hit with everyone. His frogs are all around the country now.

He has been so successful because he did it from his heart. He wanted to give a gift to the community - to make people smile and laugh - to gather people together. And he has done all of that and more. He did it because he has an amazingly strong work ethic - he has poured and painted almost every day of the week - all day - for over two years. At an average of $30 per creature, he has made and painted about 1700 concrete items. This is just phenomenal, really.

He was successful also because he is a tremendous salesman. He greets people every Saturday, shares a story or two, draws them into the fun of it - and people walk out happy and enchanted with their frog or turtle. He also gives small gifts to the children who visit, making them feel special. All in all, he is just a nice, nice guy.

Since the beginning he has not wanted us to publicize his name or show his face in photos - instead he is loving the fun and mystery of being the "Frog Man." Of course, if you bought a frog, you've most likely met him. But he continues with this purely out of fun.

So, what do you say to a man who has single handedly raised $50,000 for your organization - $30,000 of it going directly to the Museum Expansion Fund? There are no adequate words - except THANK YOU and WE LOVE YOU! When you see him, please thank him as well. His gift is for the benefit of the entire community.  
PS - The next frog painting will be Saturday, February 10 (weather permitting) from 10-12 at the museum. Reserve your spot please at or 268-0784.  24 frogs only. 
"Oakside" update  
Remember the beautiful painting of the "Barn at Oakside" by artist Naomi Stine MacNeill - recently donated to us? We were not sure where "Oakside" was located. And we asked for help.
And, we got that information from Cary Morrow, brother of Bill and Anne Morrow. Here is what Cary reported to Bill and Bill indeed confirmed:
"I just read the museum newsletter. There was an article about two paintings. One was of a barn at Oakside. At the end was a question about where Oakside was. I believe that was the barn on the Crane property about two houses west of you all. ( which would put it a couple lots west of the Church of Our Saviour on Mandarin Road ). I seem to recall a sign that said Oakside on that property when we were growing up. It also looks like I remember that barn looking. Could you confirm or maybe Bill can. The last thing I remember about that barn was that Larry Tanner's father set up a shooting range inside of it, and we went there and shot his 22 rifle once or twice before he died. Mr. Crane had a swimming pool. I believe that our mother went there to swim as a child. We also swam in that pool on a few occasions after the Tanners moved in."
So, thanks to the keen memory of Cary, we have the mystery solved. Thanks very much Cary.  
Emily Lisska
Changes being made

We recently learned that Mandarin resident and Miss Aggie Award recipient Emily Lisska will be retiring from her role of Executive Director at the Jacksonville Historical Society after over 20 years of service in this position.

It is a well-deserved retirement for Emily, but it is hard to even imagine the organization without her. Emily has provided constant wise leadership that has made it possible to preserve historic buildings, provide educational offerings and maintain a tremendous archival collection of documents and objects that are important to Jacksonville's history. She will be greatly missed in that role.

While giving up this post, we also see that Emily will be President of the Mandarin Community Club again in 2018, giving Susie Scott a well-deserved break from that important role. She brings great experience to that job as well.

Susie, also a Miss Aggie Award recipient has provided strong and steady leadership to the Mandarin Community Club, as well as heading up the annual Art Festival for many  years. Her efforts in tree preservation and zoning issues have been especially strong, for which we should all be thankful to her .

Bruce and Susie Scott

Thank you to both Emily and Susie for their many contributions and commitments to make Jacksonville a better city and Mandarin a better place to live.  We wish both of you continued success in whatever you choose to do in the future.
Meet the Divers Day     
The monthly "Meet the
Maple Leaf Divers" day at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park. 
Look for the divers next on Saturday, January 6 - 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, January 6. 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 a break in January, but will be back (weather permitting) 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.


January 6 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
January 22 - Annual Meeting 6:30
January 7 - NO Music Under the Oaks community music jam
February 4 - Music Under the Oaks community music jam 2-4
February 10 - Frog painting party 10-12
February 15 - Third Thursday Lecture - Rita Reagan, Norman Studios
February 17 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
March 4 - Music Under the Oaks community music jam
March 17- "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
April 1 - Music Under the Oaks community music jam 2-4
April 19 - Rotary Club of Mandarin  "Laughs for Charity" event 
April 21 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4 
  September 22 or 29 - Smithsonian "Museum Day LIVE!" with Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day and all buildings open
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.
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.   
January starts our new membership year. We have many levels of membership and every penny given supports the programs, activities and mission of the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. This annual financial support has always been the foundation on which we build. We value your membership and welcome your input at any time.
If you are already a member, you should have received a renewal letter in the mail. If you have never been a member, we welcome your participation now. You can join or renew by picking up a form at the Mandarin Museum, printing one on-line or using our secure on-line pay site by clicking here.
Our Annual Member Meeting will be Monday, January 22 at 6:30 at Mandarin Museum - we will share more information about the expansion and the "Laughs for Charity" event at the meeting. We hope you will join us - just RSVP to so we will know how many chairs to put out.   
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 
Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.