MMHS NEWS - June 2016
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

We rolled into May on an absolute high due to the success of our Community Celebration and Grand Opening of the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children on April 30. The turnout and the impact of that day surpassed all of our expectations. Sister Thomas Joseph called it "a day in Paradise" to see the community come together like it did that day. Indeed it was an amazingly beautiful day and we are so proud to have this schoolhouse and look forward to how it will continue to tell its stories in the future. April 30 was just the beginning.

May also brought some sadness as Mandarin lost two long-time supporters - Billy Barwald and Beverly Fleming. Please read about them below.

Montifiore William "Billy" Barwald
(1918 - 2016)

How many of us knew that Mr. Billy Barwald had such an imposing first name? Everyone just called him "Billy."

Seen here during one of his "Front Porch Stories" talks, Billy was one of the senior historians left in Mandarin. He was always willing and eager to sit down and talk about his long and productive life in Mandarin. Having owned a nursery and landscaping business for 60 years and a citrus business for another 26 years, everybody in Mandarin seemed to know him or know of him. And many people came to hear his stories at Mandarin Museum in 2013. Billy actually received a Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission award for saving heritage through oral history!

He will be greatly missed in the community. Please join his family and the museum family at a public memorial for him at Mandarin Museum on Sunday afternoon, June 26 at 2:30.

Beverly Fleming

Sarah Bailey and Beverly Fleming

Beverly Fleming was also a dear friend to the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. You would see her most recently  at the "Under the Oaks" music jams and at Miss Aggie Day this past March (seen here with her dear friend Sarah Bailey.)

Beverly certainly made an impact everywhere she went, whether it was with the Florida Master Naturalist program, as the best friend ever to Alpine Groves Park or the programs she conducted in the St. Johns County Schools. She even wrote a book about the Walter Jones Park flora that has never been published.

Another long-time lover of all things Mandarin - she will be greatly missed.

Why I Love Mandarin

Last year, a Mandarin photographer, Olis Garber, visited the Store and Post Office during Art Festival and made us an offer we could not refuse. He offered to take professional portraits of our Board members for us to use to promote the work of the museum. We were all excited about the project and decided we would each chose a place in Mandarin that was special to us in some way and have our portrait taken there. We also decided that each of our portraits will be a way of sharing our love of Mandarin's special places with others. Thus, we start "Why I Love Mandarin" which will be a monthly feature in our newsletter. Hopefully our readers will get to know the members of the board better and will get to learn about some Mandarin history as well.

So, I will start - Sandy Arpen  

I chose to have my photo taken at the historic Mandarin Community Club building because it is a place that is special to me for many reasons. For one thing it is the most historic building in Mandarin, having been built in 1872 as a schoolhouse  through the involvement of Mandarin's most famous resident and my heroine, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Every time I enter the building and look at the gorgeous portrait of Harriet overlooking the hall, I feel her presence there. I imagine it being used as a schoolhouse during the week and a place of worship on Sunday, with the Stowe's actually dragging a little organ across the dirt street from their home so they could have music at the services.

This property has always been the heart of Mandarin. This is where the Post Office was built in 1911, where the "villagers" worked together for the Liberty League during World War I and where the Mandarin Community Club was founded in 1923. Many don't know that this is also where plays took place with community members building the sets and acting out plays - for over a century.  I was a transplant to Mandarin in 1961, but my husband Tracey is a native and his father, mother and sister all acted and volunteered with the Mandarin Players - and they have great memories of those times.

More recent memories of fondness for me here are the days when Tracey served as President of the MCC Board and  the many years when our whole family would work the Art Festival. Tracey and I flipped burgers and our kids  took orders from the artists and served them their food so they wouldn't have to leave their booths. What a great training ground that was for our children - to learn first hand of the importance of public service.

Lastly, this place was also where Mandarin Museum & Historical Society was birthed. When the public started bringing art and objects that represented Mandarin's history to the club, a small group of MCC members decided to form a brand new historical society to manage and display the historical heritage of the community. We still share a partnership today, as MMHS leases the Store and Post Office to us so we can display a mid 20th-Century country store and we hold our Third Thursday Lectures in the Community Club because we have no space for such events at Walter Jones Park. We greatly appreciate that partnership.

So, this building represents much of why I love Mandarin. It represents the rich history of the community and also the drive and spirit to come together to make Mandarin a better place - just like the spirit that led all the necessary people to come together this past year to make the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children a reality. Some things never change in this little village we call Mandarin - thank goodness!

Thank you to Olis Garber for the many hours he spent on this project and the wonderful photos he has given us.. Check him out at

Special "Paint a Frog Day" for Kids 
June 18 from 10-12 

The Frogman has generously made a batch of unpainted frogs so we can invite children to come to the museum and paint a frog of their very own. We will provide the frog, the paint brushes and the working space. The paint dries quickly and you will be able to take them home with you.

We are hosting 20 children max by reservation only. The cost is $20.00. The child has to be accompanied by and supervised by a parent at all times and bring a painting shirt to wear while painting. Museum volunteers will be present to organize and help, but it is the parents' responsibility to help their children paint safely.

If you would like to sign up for this date, please click here and email us or call and leave a message at 268-0784. The first 20  RSVPs are "in" for June. We hope to soon have a July and August date too if June is successful.

We were honored in May to receive a Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Honorable Mention Award for the restoration and rehabilitation work done on the schoolhouse in 2015-16..

That award represented the work of R.G. White Construction, the City of Jacksonville and PQH Design (architects). For MMHS - we owe our special thanks to Jim Rafferty and his band of volunteers who worked for months and months on the building interior and exterior  to make it the beautiful building it is today.

Board member Hope Ferrigno went to Tallahassee to accept the certificate at the annual program. She was proud to receive  this prestigious award on behalf of all of the above.

We NEED you - now with the addition of the schoolhouse, we really need three docents for each shift each Saturday. We are looking for folks who would like especially to show the schoolhouse to visitors.

Don't worry, we will train you!

call Paula today at 403-5024 or and she will get you started.

You'll be glad you did - we have a great team at MMHS! 
Don't forget our regualrly scheduled programs
"Music Under the Oaks"
A community jam  - all are invited to play, listen, paint, or dance. Bring a chair and water. The museum will be open for viewing and restrooms. Held at Walter Jones Park.

Sunday, June 5
from 2-4

"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"

Meet Dr. Keith Holland and SJAEI divers who brought up the Civil War artifacts from the muddy St. Johns River bottom. Artifacts not seen here before are now on display.

Saturday, June 18 from noon - 4 at Mandarin Museum
"Yoga on the River"

Join registered Yoga instructor, Karen Roumillat, on the Boardwalk in Walter Jones park for a morning of gentle Yoga - all while gazing at the peaceful and beautiful St. Johns River.
Bring a mat and water.

This will be the LAST "Yoga on the River."

Sunday, June 26 at 9 am

June 4 - Store and Post Office Open
June 5 - "Under the Oaks" Music Jam 2-4
June 18 - Paint the Frogs 10-12
June 18 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day - 12-4
June 26 - Yoga on the River 9 am at the boardwalk
June 26 - Billy Barwald memorial at Mandarin Museum 2:30
July 2 - Store and Post Office open
July 3 - "Under the Oaks" Music jam 2-4
July 16 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day 12-4
August 6 -  Store and Post Office Open 12-4
August 7 - "Under the Oaks" Music Jam 2-4
August 20 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day - 12-4
August 18 - Third Thursday Lecture
September 24 - Smithsonian Magazine - "Museum Day Live"
November 17 - Third Thursday Lecture
December 3 - Winter Celebration

Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children  are open every Saturday (except Dec. 26) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road)

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open the 1st Saturday of every month from 12-4.

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