January 2020   
Dear Friends,

Who can even believe that we are starting the third decade of the 21st century - 2020? It seems amazing to me.  What do you think the residents envisioned for this sparsely populated and rural village 190 years ago when Mandarin received its last name? Do you think Harriet Beecher Stowe could have imagined a six-lane highway of bumper-to-bumper cars when she sought respite on 30 acres and a "cottage" along the banks of the St. Johns? And in 1911, when Walter Jones built his little store and post office, could he have possibly imagined  that it would still be standing 109 years later with a 2020 sign on the porch?

Well, here we are. And our mission continues to "share the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire."

To be able to do that we need YOU - people who also love Mandarin's history and care about preserving it and carrying it into the future. We are filled with gratitude for every single one of you - our members, volunteers, community partners, visitors and donors.

We are here FOR the community because we are part of the community. Mandarin Museum is YOUR museum and we are proud to be the stewards of this organization and of the stories of Mandarin - for 31 years now. And we are very excited about what this new year will bring - so stay tuned in the upcoming months!

Happy New Year from the Board of Directors to all of you!

Decorations and photo by volunteer Brett Nolan.
Thank you Brett!
  Sandy Arpen  
New Membership Year

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 very foundation on which we build, so we value your membership greatly.

As a new benefit this year, your membership card will indicate our participation in a Reciprocal Membership program through the Southeastern Museums Conference. This allows you to receive free admission at many museums throughout the southeast. For more information about the details of this program, click HERE. This is a very exciting affiliation. We are also still part of the Time Travelers Program . Both programs are indicated on the new membership cards, which must be shown when seeking reciprocal benefits.   
If you are already a member, you should have received a renewal request 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 .
The long-awaited expansion of our museum will happen this year! We will be making fresh and interesting changes throughout the building - in new and old spaces. We are building a new, exciting and larger permanent Maple Leaf exhibit area as well as making additional archival space to house and work on our collection. We'll be able to have an art gallery again and we'll be adding an "African-American History in Mandarin" exhibit in the main gallery. We are extremely grateful to receive a matching grant for building from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA), and we hope to break ground in February. We welcome all to be part of the team through your financial support of our work here in Mandarin.  

Please join us at the Annual Meeting on January 13 at 6:30 pm at the museum to learn more about our plans in 2020.

County Dock Soon to REOPEN
Everybody is ready for the return of County Dock so we can fish, relax and view the beautiful sunsets again. Since September of 2016, when Hurricane  Matthew blew into town and destroyed just about every dock along the St. Johns, we have missed our County Dock. We are so happy that it is almost finished. Exact date is not known to us, but we will post on Facebook when we do know.

Seen here are the immediate post-hurricane and present photos.

February  Lecture
Presented on February 27

In Honor of Black History Month

Author Greg Estevez, Edisto Island

You might be thinking, "What in the world does a book about Edisto Island, South Carolina, have to do with Mandarin?"
Well...a lot actually. Most folks do not know that there was once a small African-American community on Old St. Augustine Road that was also called Edisto. The people who settled there had migrated from Edisto, SC to this area after the Civil War. They started a church there, Julington Baptist Church, one of Mandarin's three historic African-American churches that still exist.  
We at MMHS are doing research related to our development of an exhibit on African-American history in Mandarin that will be part of the newly expanded museum building. This research led us to connect with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, which connected us with Orange Park resident Greg Estevez, who had just published this book. That then led us to start looking for names to connect families from these two "Edisto" communities. That work is just beginning.
Greg wrote this book as he began studying his family's deep roots in Edisto. He felt a drive to tell the stories of African-American life on this island, including his own family. But it became even more that that as he includes the rich history and heritage from slavery times to present day. Greg will share any connections with Mandarin's Edisto that we know of by the time of the lecture. 
PLEASE NOTE: CHANGE OF DATE: The lecture is on February 27 (NOT February 20 which is the third Thursday - our usual date) due to a conflict at the Community Club on the 20th). It is presented by the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in partnership with and held at the Mandarin Community Club, located at 12447 Mandarin Rd. Refreshments begin at 6:30 pm with the lecture at 7 pm. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend. 

Replica Cross To Be Added To
St. Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society is proud to announce its support of a
exciting new project. Plans are being made to have a replica white marble cross
memorializing Private Marion Losco placed near his parents' (pictured here)
and brothers' graves in the St. Joseph Catholic Church cemetery.  
The cross will be identical to the one marking his grave at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France. The wording on the front will be slightly changed with "Florida" replaced by the date of his birth. On the back will be the words" "Buried in Oise-Aisne Cemetery France."
Permission has been received from the church to place the cross in front of the U. S.
flagpole near the Losco graves. A grounds beautification project around the flagpole will
take place as part of an Eagle Scout project. Actual date of placement and formal
dedication of the cross in an appropriate ceremony depends on the time it takes to create
and install the cross and tend to the grounds.
A monuments company in South Carolina can sculpt and deliver the cross when all is
ready. Total cost will be approximately $2300. All those interested in
contributing to the effort "to bring Mario home" (if only in spirit) are asked to contact
MMHS president Sandy Arpen at 268-0784. 

Next Painting Party  
Scheduled February 8

Join us on Saturday, February 8, from 10am to 12 noon at the Mandarin Museum, 11964 Mandarin Rd.

We will have frogs and sea turtles to paint, which need to be reserved in advance. The cost of each will be $20 for frogs and $22 for turtles.

To register, send an email with "February Frog Painting" in the subject line to [email protected] and tell us which  you want to reserve. Don't delay, these spots will go fast.

Thank you always to Don Bowden, Mandarin's Frog Man, for making all of these critters for us to sell.
Accessions Corner
What is in our Collection?

This is a plate called "Cooper's Hawk" which was the second issue of the "Majestic Birds of Prey Plate Collection" of The Hamilton Collection - dated 1983. It was one of many plates made from Mandarin artist C. Ford Riley's early paintings. It is a beauty! It was donated to the museum's collection by Tracey Arpen.

To learn more about Mandarin artist C. Ford Riley and his career,  and to purchase paintings directly from him, click HERE.
Looking Back on December events 
20th Annual Winter Celebration 
The Winter Celebration was  a huge success - with honoring our six World Ward II veterans, the perfect weather, a large crowd and wonderful music all day. It was an amazing day. We sent a special mid-December edition of the newsletter with lots of photos, but in case you missed them, click HERE to see photos. 

Visit from Sisters of St. Joseph 
We were very excited to share the schoolhouse with three Sisters of St. Joseph who stopped by the last Saturday of the month - Sister Rita Baum and Sisters Elise and Rea.  
First Saturday - all buildings open
January 4 
In Walter Jones Historical Park - 1875 farmhouse, 1876 barn, Losco Winery  
are open from 10-2. 
ALSO - the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office will  be open at 12471 Mandarin Road (next to the Mandarin Community Club) from 10-2.
Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open from 9-4, as usual.


 "Under the Oaks" Music Jam  
January 5 
Come on out on Sunday afternoon, January 5 from 2-4, to enjoy some good music played by members of the community in an old fashioned circle jam. If you play an acoustic instrument, you are welcome to join in the  circle. If you are a "listener, please bring a lawn chair and just enjoy this wonderful day. Note: it is weather dependent, of course, since it is an outside event. The Mandarin Museum will be open during this event.  
This event is co-sponsored by our friends at the North Florida Folk Network
Artist Gary Garrett
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 
January 18  
The story of the Civil War steamship Maple Leaf will live forever in Mandarin and American history. This National Historic Landmark shipwreck has unveiled many a story about her life and the lives of the thousands of Union soldiers she transported up and down the East Coast.
Dr. Keith Holland and his team of St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions divers want to meet you and invite you aboard. They are at the museum from 12-4 pm this day. 


This was San Jose Blvd. on the morning of December 25. What a weird view of this highway, which has become pretty much a parking lot of traffic almost any time of day. It looked like everyone had been evacuated. When shown on our Facebook page, many old-timers said it was "like it used to be," when they were young and could ride horses up State Road 13 and rarely see a car!
The Mandarin Museum and the Schoolhouse are 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 open from 10-2 on the first Saturday. Exceptions to this schedule are listed in the calendar above.

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.   
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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