July 2019  
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

This is the official news we have been waiting for, in a letter from Florida's Secretary of State, Laurel M. Lee:

"As Florida's Chief Cultural Officer, it is an honor to notify you that you have been awarded $92,063 under the Department of State's 2019-2020 Cultural Facilities Program. This grant is to support the project entitled "Mandarin Museum Building expansion" as outlined in your application."
Oh my, we are excited...and grateful! We are very grateful to the Division of Cultural Affairs for offering and managing grants like this that allow even small organizations like ours to benefit. We are grateful to the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis for increasing appropriations this year in support of the hundreds of diverse and rich arts and cultural organizations throughout the state.The full amount for matching grants requested by the Division of Cultural Affairs was not appropriated, but it is a big improvement from last year and hopefully next year these grants will be fully funded again.

And, were are grateful to all of you - our members and friends. Thank you for your support of this expansion project through your monetary and in-kind gifts to the expansion fund. We had to have that commitment in the bank before we could even apply for this grant. We will be able to do this project because of the gifts of generous individuals and businesses, including:  the Mandarin Rotary Club, Bhide & Hall Architects, P.A., R.G.White Construction and, of course, Mandarin's Frog Man, Don Bowden (who allocated 60% of all frog sales to the expansion).

Thanks also to all of you who advocated for funding for our project and also generally for arts and culture by contacting our Duval Delegation of senators and representatives, as well as key committee members and the Governor. Those efforts, I am sure, made an impact on the improvements in funding this year.

And many thank yous to all the MMHS Board members for taking a chance, believing in the idea, and advancing our efforts to better serve the community through this project.

It will be so exciting to have a consolidated and expanded Maple Leaf exhibit to further educate visitors about this National Historic Landmark shipwreck; to have an art gallery that will allow us to rotate the wonderful art we have in our collection and to offer periodic special art showings; to be able to have a display that focuses on African-American history in Mandarin; and have the ability to bring in other stories and objects that we just haven't had room to share.

We hope to be able to start the build in January 2020.

Sandy Arpen
"Blue Star Family Day" at Walter Jones Historical Park

July 20

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society is one of more than 2000 museums across America and six in Jacksonville that are participating in Blue Star Museums for military personnel and their families this summer.
Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and  museums to offer free admission this summer to the nation's active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve. Since Mandarin Museum is always free, we have created a special event to welcome military families on Saturday, July 20. This event is in partnership with the Blue Star Families of Jacksonville organization.  
(NOTE: Since this is a public park, the general public is, of course, also invited to participate.)
This is an exciting opportunity for  families to visit and learn about some of Jacksonville's military history, as well as rural life in old Florida. Activities planned for the day include:
  • Along with the Mandarin Museum, all four historic buildings in the park will be open for visitation: the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, the 1875 Webb/Jones Farmhouse, the 1876 Webb Barn, and the Losco Winery.
  • Civil War reenactors - A special display, "In Search of Valor," features the common foot soldier of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate - a simulated encampment with period tents, weapons, uniforms and soldiers' personal effects. The Union Navy will also be represented.
  • Meet and personally talk with Dr. Keith Holland and St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions divers, who recovered Civil War artifacts from the U.S. Army Troop Transport Maple Leaf. This shipwreck, which lies in the St. Johns at Mandarin Point, is a National Historic Landmark. The Mandarin Museum exhibits about 70 of these artifacts.
  • Live old time music from the Civil War period.
  • Our second exhibit of special military interest is "A Soldier's Story," which focuses on the experiences of World War I, drawing on the personal letters and artifacts of a local resident, Pvt. Marion J. Losco, who died in France 101 years ago on July 31, 1918. An authentic and complete WWI uniform is part of this display as well as personal objects that belonged to Pvt. Losco.
  • Blue Star Families of Jacksonville will be present at the event and will have special surprises for military families specifically.
This event will be held at the Walter Jones Historical Park. The hours are 10 AM to 4 PM.    

Update on Loretto Elementary School

This 1954 class was standing on the steps of Loretto School, what we now refer to as the "historic" building at the school complex.

As most of you know, the School Board is proposing a comprehensive facilities Master Plan for upgrading, repairing, renovating, consolidating and removing schools throughout the district. In the original plan that was released in April, Loretto was on a list to be "replaced." Many in the community wrote to the board in opposition of the plan to demolish the historic building that houses the administrative office, an auditorium and some class rooms. Due to that public input, changes were made in the plans for Loretto.

Our District 7 School Board Member, Lori Hershey, stated this in her July Mandarin Newsline Q&A: "Lo retto Elementary will be able to retain the historical six-room schoolhouse and work will be done to consolidate the sprawling footprint currently onsite, as well as remove portables. All schools in the district will benefit from this plan through upgrades in security."
The next step is obtaining funding for the whole plan. There are schools in the district that are in dire need of major repairs and improvements. If you would like to contact Ms. Hershey, her email is: .

Seeking World War II Veterans and Stories 
Every December we host our old-fashioned Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Historical Park.  
This year the celebration falls on December 7, which is also Pearl Harbor Day, which President Frankiln D. Roosevelt declared "a day that will live in infamy." 1941 was 78 years ago and there are only a few hundred thousand veterans from WW II still living and MMHS wants to honor them and their service on this day. 
The Winter Celebration will be as always, a day of fun, crafts, music and history. But, in addition, we will have a short ceremony honoring any man or woman who has lived in Mandarin at any time and served in World War II. We will welcome men or women who are able to come in person and we will also post photos and a short bio of those we identify that have passed away or unable to come. 
To make this ceremony possible we need the help of the community at large. If you know someone who fits the description of having lived in Mandarin and served in WWII, please contact us at or 268-0784. We would like to have a nice showing to educate the younger generations of the significance of this day in America's history and to show the stories of those from our own community who were called to serve so many years ago.
The photos below are of George Waldoch - Mandarin's 'Honey Man". George is an expert on bees and honey, he is almost 100 years old and he still lives at home in Mandarin. He used to come to Winter Celebrations to teach people about honey-making. We miss him and hope he'll be able to come. 

Accessions Corner
What is in our Collection?

This month our featured accession is a medallion from a Mandarin-Loretto Volunteer Fire Department dress service hat. This object was given to us by Burt Wasmund, who shared with us some of his memories about the Volunteer Fire Department:

"My dad, Don Wasmund, was a member of the department for a number of years and when I was 16 years old (1956) I would go to the regular meetings for training and cleanup of our one fire truck. The fire truck was a 1950 Dodge Power Wagon with 4 wheel drive, carried 450 gallons of water and was equipped with a front-mount pump. There was a ladder rack on the top with a couple of extension ladders, plus some other tools of the trade.

"The station was a rented or donated stall at Wilford's Garage on State Road 13 at the intersection of Mandarin Road. I don't remember the year, but construction began on the new fire house, which is still in service at 2948 Delor Drive.... When completed, the Dodge moved in and a new 1958 LaFrance fire truck was added to the station. Since I lived close to the fire station I became an engineer and drove the Power Wagon or the tanker. We fought mostly woods fires but did have a number of house fires which were saved from complete destruction.

"Some of the folks that made this volunteer group work were Mr. Wilford, Mr. Flynn, Mr. Greenwood, Mr. Long, Don Hutt and some of us younger folks, Buddy Jones, Charles Greenwood, James Folds and Jimmy Dukes."

Looking Back on June
Summer campers from Loretto came out for a field trip. They really seemed to enjoy the history and nature of the park. 
The flowers were beautiful


Mandarin Newsline  
July edition
 "Back in Time with Brett" by MMHS volunteer Brett Nolan features the King Hosue on Mandarin Road this month.   
Click HERE to see the story and the entire edition of the May Newsline
The Newsline allows us to share our events with the community. They are supported by advertisements, so please support those who support this wonderful free local paper.
Happy 4th of July!!!!

Many thanks to Gabriele Dempsey for decorating the museum and to Brett Nolan for decorating the Store and Post Office. Drive by the Post Office at night - the lights change from red, to white to blue! 


First Saturday - July 6 - All Buildings Open - READ TIMES
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.
Losco Winery

 "Under the Oaks" Music Jam
is cancelled for July, August and September due to the heat. 
This event is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network. - "Connecting Artists, Fans and venues in North Florida." CLICK HERE to view their website.   
Meet the Maple Leaf  Divers - July 20 as part of Blue Star Museum Day  
Keith Holland and SJAE divers are back in the museum May 18 from 9-4 to tell you all about their exploration of this National Historic Landmark shipwreck.
Keith Holland and Steve Michaelis checking out the site of the Maple Leaf wreckage. 
    Mark your calendars
    • July 20 - Special Blue Star Museum Day to honor Jacksonville's  military families
    • August 15 - Third Thursday Lecture - The St. Johns Riverkeeper
    • September 28 - Smithsonian Museum  Day
    • November 21 - Third Thursday Lecture - Dr. John Foster - discussing his new book At the Dawn of Tourism in Florid: Abolitionists, Print Media, and Images for Early Vacationers.
    • December 7 - Special 20th anniversary of the Winter Celebration in Mandarin - with special event honoring Pearl Harbor Day and WWII vets.
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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