January 2021  

Dear Friends,

I have heard so many friends say "I can't wait for 2020 to be gone."  And, I must admit, I am one of them.

When I wrote our January 2020 newsletter, we had so much to look forward to. Our regular programs and activities were scheduled, County Dock was close to reopening, we planned to start building our expansion in the Spring and were thinking about what our "Grand Reopening" in the Fall would look like. We were excited. The term "COVID-19" was new and seemed far far away from us here in Mandarin.

And then, starting March 15 - we had to close due to that COVID-19. We had no idea how long it would last or that it would become the worst pandemic in 100 years. Now we know. Our personal, business and professional worlds were turned upside down. Some of us have been ill, some lost loved ones, some lost jobs and businesses. And, I think it is safe to say that most of us have felt anxious and out of sync. And it wasn't just COVID was it? It was a tumultuous year of severe weather and political, financial and social unrest as well as the deaths of several long-time Mandarin residents - all as icing on the 2020 cake!
But...with that being said, we still have MUCH to be grateful for during 2020:
  • Our volunteers have mostly remained healthy. And, our Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Suhey, has been faithful and effective in her efforts to stay connected with the backbone of our organization - our volunteers.  
  • County Dock DID reopen in February and it is beautiful!
  • We had one Third Thursday Lecture and it was GREAT - Greg Estevez gave a talk about his new book "Edisto Island: The African American Journey." And that led to Greg's important involvement with our Black History exhibit team.
  • We had selected two very deserving residents to be honored for Miss Aggie Day - Sam Folds and Wanda Bosworth. This was a first! (Note: The award ceremony had to be cancelled, but as soon as it is safe to gather, we will have a special ceremony to pay honor to Sam and Wanda.) So stay tuned.
  • The Mandarin Garden Club honored MMHS with a Beautification Award. Our volunteer Master Gardners, George DeMarino and Candace Barrone have been faithful in maintaining the kitchen garden and the butterfly garden. It is because of their efforts that we were given the award.
  • The National Geographic program "Drain the Oceans" featured the Maple Leaf in a Civil War segment. This was huge for us!
  • Brigham Pratt, BSA, received an Eagle Scout Award for his work replacing wooden garbage can covers in Walter Jones Historical Park. What an improvement!
  • We won the 2020 JaxBest Award for Best History Museum - for the 2nd year!
  • We started a book - "Images of America: Mandarin".
  • We have been researching new exhibit material and renovating the inside of Mandarin Museum.
  • We received CARE grants for March-November from the City of Jacksonville and Florida Humanities/National Endowment for the Humanities. These grants really helped us get through those months.
  • We repaired the roof of the Store and Post Office.
  • We have received ongoing patience and support through this long "hold" from our construction contractor, R.G. White and our architect, Bob McVeigh of Bhide & Hall Architects.
  • We have received generous memberships and donations at the end of the year.
  • And...there are several more gratitudes listed in stories below.
Now, as 2021 actually arrives, vaccines are becoming available and we can see some light at the  end of this long tunnel. But, please hang in there and continue to do everything you can to stay safe. We appreciate every single one of you and we look forward to the day we will welcome you back into the newly enlarged and renovated Mandarin Museum.  
Happy New Year from our Board of Directors to you and your family!
Sandy Arpen
MMHS Board News
We are saddened to announce that two board members will be leaving us in January - Bob Nay and Ed Garcia. Bob, retired from Florida Blue, started his service in 2015 and Ed joined later that same year. 

Many of you know Bob because of his book "I'm a Full-fledged Floridian Now." He has always been interested in Civil War history, was a reenactor and had written a book for a historical Society in Pennsylvania. So when he discovered the Walter Jones Historical Park, he began to dive into the history of Mandarin, the park and the man who built the farmhouse in 1875 - Major William W. Webb. Due to these interests, he also began decorating the Mandarin Cemetery with flags every Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We are so grateful to him for his major contribution to Mandarin's written history and for his dedicated service as a docent and board member.

Ed, an attorney for Florida Blue, has been more of a "behind-the-scenes" member - he has been our in-house legal advisor who has led us through by-laws updates and revisions, developed a board rotation plan and has spent endless hours researching and documenting early Mandarin and the census reports for Mandarin from 1850 to 1940. We are equally grateful to Ed for his important contributions.

Bob and Ed - THANK YOU very much for your dedicated service to MMHS and the entire community!

Bob Nay
Ed Garcia
Thank you to Don Bowden, Mandarin's Frog Man

Many thanks to the amazing Don, who cranked out concrete frogs and turtles to sell at three outdoor sales in November and December. This was not easy with the humidity and then the cold weather - usually these critters take up to 28 days to cure - but Don put them in an outdoor oven to warm them up and speed the process up dramatically! And, on top of all that, he continues to hide little bags of toys in the park for the children to find - every Saturday!

In three 4-hour sales, we sold about $2000 in frogs as well as some books and prints. The events took place totally outside. All wore masks, used hand sanitizer and distancing took place - so we felt it was a safe thing to do. What a help to MMHS, considering we have lost income from gift shop sales, donations and field trips since March!

We so appreciate those who helped over the three weeks: Don, Paula Suhey, Kaye Hartley, Bob and Pheenie Dahl, Susan Cason, Audrey Everett, Hope Ferrigno and Wendy Short. And we certainly appreciate all who came and bought something.
Thank You!
The Rotary Club of Mandarin has always been so generous to MMHS through the years. They have helped us with projects like the Sawmill, the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, and the Mandarin Museum expansion.
In December, we unexpectedly received a year-end gift of $1000, which will be used to support the needs of the archive room. This is where we take care of our collection of objects, photographs, art and documents. The size of this room will be doubled in the expansion and there are many needs there for improvements to help us care for our priceless accessions.
Our thanks to the Rotary Club for this generous gift at the end of the year. We are very appreciative of your on-going support of our mission in Mandarin. 
Thanks again to Brett Nolan

In December, Brett, a board member of Mandarin Community Club (MCC), created Mandarin's first official Christmas tree lighting. He obtained the 20-foot tree from Liberty Landscape Supply, had it placed in front of the club, strung it with lights, decorated the building and then hosted an tree lighting ceremony on December 4. It was a beautiful evening, including a poem by Emily Lisska. MCC plans to make this an annual event on the first Friday of December and MMHS will follow on the first Saturday with the annual Winter Celebration. What a great tradition being established to welcome the holiday season! Thanks to Brett and all the MCC volunteers who worked hard to make this a bright star in the holiday season. It was a gift to the community, for sure.

Photo from Mandarin Community Club Facebook
In Our Collection
Don't you wish you could attend?
This is a favorite from the Harriet Beecher Stowe era. M.A.D.A stood for Mandarin Amateur Dramatic Association. The Mandarin Chapel was the building that was used as a school and church and is now the Mandarin Community Club. Harriet was often called "Hattie" by her family, but this "Miss Hattie Stowe" was Harriet and Calvin's daughter who came with them to Florida every year. Lots of familiar Mandarin names of the time, including Major Webb, performed. And, can you imagine...a steamboat excursion bringing folks from Green Cove Springs to the event!
Some interesting history websites outside of Mandarin 
"The Jaxson" is one of the most interesting online history sites for the Jacksonville area. They just highlighted the "Top 30 Stories of 2020" from their site. All are very interesting and well worth a read. Click HERE to connect to it. 
The Discover Florida Channel can be seen by clicking HERE. There are some very interesting short topics about various places in Florida, including Florida cooking. Lean about some really cool places that you might want to check out once we're traveling again.  
The Jacksonville Historical Society always has fascinating pieces of history to share, including online oral histories and access to digital collections. Click HERE to view.
And, the Jacksonville History Consortium is a great place to view all of the history organizations in one place. Click HERE to their site. 

Mandarin Newsline

The January 2020 edition of the Mandarin Newsline is out. We are so excited about being front-page in this new year issue. Thank you to Editor Martie Thompson and her team for this featured spot and for always producing an interesting and quality community newspaper.

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.

"Always the River..."

In November we featured a sunrise view of the river from County Dock, but in December, we caught this interesting view of County Dock with deep morning fog. You could not see the Buckman Bridge, the downtown skyline, NAS, the docks along the shoreline or even the river itself very far out.  It was very strange, but very beautiful.


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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