May 2016 
It was a GLORIOUS day in Mandarin on April 30!
Thanks to Jeanette Ghiotto for taking this panoramic photo.
A note from Sandy Arpen  
Truly our schoolhouse Grand Opening  was one of those emotionally satisfying days that lifted me up in so many ways. After so many years of trying and planning - the schoolhouse was opened for the public. Every individual who spoke delivered a heartfelt and passionate message of what was accomplished by uniting as a community for this schoolhouse. The crowd of 300 people were learning, laughing, singing, and praying together, which was very powerful, to say the least. Honoring Don Yocom and Amy Ver Beek Brown was difficult, but very moving. And, to watch Sister Thomas Joseph cut the ribbon and then see the pride in Sam's Burney's eyes when he rang that bell - well that was exhilarating. And to follow  all that up with the wonderful performances of the Philip R. Cousin AME Church Choir and the Don't Miss a Beat kids - well that was pure joy!

All through the day people came up and told me how perfect the ceremony was  - how organized, well-orchestrated and smooth it all went. People in attendance all seemed happy and proud and excited to be there. The food was all eaten, the cake was also gone and we had little water left - the treats were clearly enjoyed by everybody.

I also heard as  many comments about the "wow" factor of the interpretive exhibits and how amazing the schoolhouse looked inside and outside. People seemed mesmerized by the photos and the stories - and conversations were going on all over the place. I lost track of how many times I actually heard someone say "I just can't believe it."

Well, we all know it takes hundreds of hours of planning and  research, pure physical labor and a lot of people to pull off restoring an old building, designing and opening a completely new exhibit and having an celebration event like this. It doesn't just happen. The ceremony was so packed and I was so overwhelmed with my own feelings about this day that I was unable to acknowledge publicly those who actually made it happen over the last 15 months. I'd like to recognize and thank individually some  MMHS volunteers and others.

If you see any of these people, please join me in thanking them for putting their hearts and souls into researching, compiling  information and designing such a first-class educational exhibit: Karen Droege, Pat Wojciechowski, Sheridan Brown, Gabriele Dempsey, Bruce Vacca, LeAnn Arndt, Joyce Brown, and Jay Smith. The work they accomplished is incredible really...and so valuable, as it is the foundation we must have to tell the stories accurately and interestingly.

The hours of physical labor to restore the building through repairs, plastering and painting was headed up by volunteer Jim Rafferty, who spent many hours working alone, but was often accompanied by others, including Geoff Butler. Don Carter and Chris Bedingfield built the benches. Tracey Arpen, Pat Plumlee, Virginia Barker and Karen Droege spent many hours improving the yard out front and tending to the new landscaping. City employees pressure washed the museum, blew off the roof, painted the railings and had the farmhouse repainted - all  to help the park look beautiful for our event.

Those who planned and  orchestrated every aspect of the Grand Opening event were: Pat Wojciechowski (Chairperson), Sheridan Brown (designed the beautiful program), Hope Ferrigno and Susan Ford (planned and served all the food items). Hope's daughter, Alanna McAllister, drove all the way from Louisiana with a 30 foot tent to save us money and help with the event and we are extremely grateful to her also.

About 30 of our faithful volunteers (including Boy Scout Troop 473) were organized by Volunteer Coordinator Paula Suhey  to man all the buildings, direct traffic, welcome visitors, set up and break down chairs, and  pick up garbage. Heather Bailey helped us greatly with publicity.

I'd also like to mention that we are grateful for the friends and family of Don Yocom who donated memorial gifts to MMHS in Don's memory. We were able to use those funds for the beautiful flagpole and 45 star flag which will be raised every time the schoolhouse is open. We were also able to buy the new portable speaker system that we used for this event and will use for many more events in the future, including Third Thursday Lectures. It saved us Saturday, as the entire crowd was able to hear.

Lastly, thank you to all businesses, organizations and private individuals  who supported this effort in any way including: MMHS Board of Directors, Mandarin Community Club, Sisters of St. Joseph, The City of Jacksonville, Councilman Matt Schellenberg, Thomas and Susan Ford, Allan and Rosemary McCorkle, Betty Taylor, MMHS members and donors, R.G. White Construction, McCall Service, First Coast Scaffolding, Randy Roumillat, Emily and Larry Lisska,The Rotary Club of Mandarin, Rotary District 6970, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Knights of Columbus St. Johns River Council #10850, Publix on San Jose, Winn-Dixie on San Jose, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Starbucks on San Jose,  Panera on St. Augusine Rd, Hagan Ace Hardware and McDonalds of Jacksonville, Dan Scanlan and all the speakers and performers at the event.

I extend my  personal gratitude and that for all in attendance on the 30th and in the future. Your generosity of time, talent and treasure is great. Thank you.



Third Thursday Lecture
May 19

There is no doubt that "Mandarin residents LOVE their trees!" Thanks to the Scenic and Historic Corridor ordinance introduced by former Council Member Mary Ann Southwell, the tree canopies along Mandarin, County Dock and Loretto Roads were protected in the heart of Mandarin. We are proud of the stately live oaks and dripping Spanish moss that define our community.
For this reason, May's Third Thursday Lecture will be of great interest to everybody who desires to maintain this appearance. The lecture will be presented by Joe Anderson, a utility forester for JEA. Anderson's primary responsibility is to ensure that the power of Jacksonville can be found in the canopy of trees. In this talk, Anderson will be branching out from the discussion of electrical, water, and sewer services to talk about trees. 

The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society presents Third Thursday Lectures quarterly in partnership with the Mandarin Community Club to educate the public about historical figures, general history and events in and around Mandarin, including the St. Johns River. It is held at the  Mandarin Community Club, which is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Refreshments are at 6:30 pm with the presentation at 7:00 pm.

Learn more about Mandarin Museum activities at Also visit  the Mandarin Community Club website at 
Don't forget our regularly scheduled activities in May
"Music Under the Oaks"
This popular community jam  meets the first Sunday/mo. 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, weather permitting.

Next - June 5
from 2-4

"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"

Meet Larry Tipping 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, May 21 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.

Sunday, May 22 at 9 am

May 19 - Third Thursday Lecture - Joe Anderson, JEA forester 
May 21 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day noon-4 
May 22 - Yoga on the River
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 Schoolhouse (11964 Mandarin Road) are open every Saturday (except Dec. 26) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park.

The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open the first Saturday of every month from noon - 4.

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Thanks to the "Frog Man" we have concrete frogs and squirrels available in the Museum Gift Shop - $15.00 every Saturday. The "Frog Man" gives his special frogs to MMHS as a donation with all proceeds to support museum programs and activities. Thisis a generous act - thank you.



Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 

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