MMHS NEWS - November 2015
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

Once again we  approach Thanksgiving, and that reminds us at MMHS how much we have to be thankful for. We have had an outstanding year, with the crowning event of 2015 being the relocation of the 1889 Schoolhouse to Walter Jones Park in January. Ten months later, the building is structurally sound and repaired, painted on the outside, almost painted on the inside and awaiting the results of all the research that has been ongoing quietly in the background in preparation for the educational interpretive exhibits which will be in place by next Spring.

It is impossible to even begin to thank everybody individually, as there have been so many involved in so may ways on this major project. We have had two leaders, though,  who have worked tirelessly for months to make this project work - Karen Droege and Jim Rafferty and I would like to recognize them. But please know, every one of you that has helped in any way, how grateful Mandarin Museum is for your contribution to making this little schoolhouse a gift to the entire community.

We are also grateful for our regular volunteers who faithfully serve as docents, special event helpers, board members, and Keith Holland and his wonderful SJAEI team of Maple Leaf divers. Every one of you brings such talent, enthusiasm and joy to our team.

We have said it so many times before, but it is just so true that it should be repeated - "we depend on our volunteers for every single thing that gets done at MMHS."  We would not exist without you. And our gratitude is deep for your commitment and support of our mission here in Mandarin. THANK YOU! Sandy Arpen, President
Don' t miss - Third Thursday Lecture - November 19

Please join us in welcoming the St. Johns River Alliance as our guests for our Third Thursday Lecture in November. This presentation  will open your eyes to all of the wonderful parks, interesting points and  activities along the length of the  St. Johns River, our most important natural resource.

The St. Johns River Alliance's (SJRA) mission is to "  preserve, protect, promote, restore and celebrate the St. Johns River as an American Heritage River." One activity that helps fulfill that mission is that SJRA is responsible for promoting the St. Johns River as an official state paddling trail.

Speakers Andrea Conover, SJRA Program Manager, and Gus Bianchi, retired Navy and teacher, recently completed kayaking the entire river.  Their presentation shows how the 310-mile north-flowing river changes from its headwaters in the marshes west of Vero Beach through the lakes and springs of the middle basin to the wide, developed and busy lower basin.  Along the way, one finds old Florida fish camps, towns, restaurants, parks and springs.  Their presentation includes photographs, maps and a list of access points to enjoy the river. Their photos are fascinating as well as breathtaking.
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. This event will be presented on Thursday, November 19 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. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, call 268-0784. 
Learn about Mandarin Museum activities at Also visit  the Mandarin Community Club website at and the St. Johns
River Alliance at

 Veterans Day Activities

Join our friends at the Mandarin Community Club as they honor our veterans with a wreath-laying ceremony and tribute on Sunday, November 8th. Scheduled to start at 1:30 PM, this event will take place within the Billard Commemorative Park adjacent to the Club on Brady Road.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend.  Ample parking is available at the far-end of the Club lot.

And, MMHS volunteers led by Don Carter and Bob Nay will be placing flags in Mandarin Cemetery at the graves of those identified as veterans on their markers. If you know someone who served and does not have this indicated on their stone, please let us know at [email protected] and we will be sure to include them as well. 
Mark you calendars now

We invite you to the 16th Annual Winter Celebration from 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM on Saturday, December 5. This event has become a family tradition for many and is well known for old-fashioned fun. It is held at the Walter Jones Historical Park, located at 11964 Mandarin Rd., with parking at Mandarin Presbyterian Church across the street from the park.
Activities are planned for the community that will educate, entertain and delight all ages, including horse-drawn hayrides, live music, historical re-enactors,  local non-profits, nature crafts, face painters and old fashioned games. The monthly "Under the Oaks" music jam will take place during Winter Celebration from 2-4. See you there!

Volunteer Hope Ferrigno relocated to Northeast Florida in 1983.

"For the way my life turned out, it was the best possible thing that could have happened to me," the Long Island native said.

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society also benefited.  

"I have had many opportunities to grow," said  Ferrigno  as she talked of why she loves to be a volunteer at the Mandarin Museum.
Hope has given many hours of service since an experience at the Mandarin Art Festival.  As she walked in the Old Store and Post Office, she happened to see Past President of the Board, Jim Towart, whom she had known through Jacksonville Newcomers.

"Jim asked me if I would like to become a volunteer for the museum.  I love history and people so that seemed like a good thing for me to do," she said.  "The museum was newly built and I enjoyed spending my Sunday afternoons sharing our story," she added.

Beginning as a docent, Hope has used her talents being involved in Special Events.  She is a Board Member as well as Program Committee Chairperson.

"For many years I have dressed up as Walter Jones' wife, Edith," she said, "but now I am so busy overseeing all the parts of the event that I can't really come in costume." Costume or no, Hope is one of the reasons the team of volunteers at the museum is successful. 
Florida Holmes Cook

Florida Cook, a Mandarin resident in her early years, and her husband Richard Cook, were highly respected Duval County educators.

This photo is of Mrs. Cook teaching a class in the schoolhouse that was located by Mt. Zion AME Church (now Philip R. Cousin) on Orange Picker Rd. This school was one of many that were similar to the schoolhouse that now is located at Walter Jones Park. This photo is probably from the 40s and was during a time of racial segregation in the schools.

Mrs. Cook and her husband (who was eventually a Principal) will be highlighted in our new exhibit as local educators in this system of education. If you know anything about either of them or have any photos, we would like to speak with you to learn more. Please contact us at asap at 268-0984 or [email protected]

Thank you
Olis Garber 

Hopefully you saw our ad in the Mandarin Newsline in October. The beautiful photo of the children at the barn that we used for the ad was taken for us by local photographer, Olis Garber. A long time resident, Olis and his wife Jo have been working with museum Board members on a special photography project especially for us. We will be sharing more about that with you in a future issue.

If you have any photography needs/desires, please consider Olis as he is a very talented photographer and he has been extremely generous to MMHS.

Link to website of Olis Garber Photography
Visit our friends across the river

The Historical Society of Orange Park also has a special December event for families, "Hometown Holiday in the Park" will occur Friday and Saturday, December 11 and 12 from 6 PM to 9 PM each evening. The event will be at Clarke Park on Kingsley Avenue. . For more information, please check out their website by clicking here.
Very special exhibit at the Ritz Museum

From October 24 through January 17, the Ritz is hosting a fascinating traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian. It is called 


American Dreams of Flight

This beautifully done exhibit features stories of African American aviation pioneers and heroes.

Click here for their website.

Reminder of our regularly scheduled activities in November
"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, November 1
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, November 14 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, November 22
at 9 am

November 1 - Music Under the Oaks 2-4
November 14 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
November 19 - Third Thursday Lecture - St. Johns River Alliance
November 22 - Yoga on the River 9 am
December 5 - 16th Annual Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Park, with Maple Leaf divers and lots of activities for the family to enjoy throughout the park. Will include the December "Music Under the Oaks" jam on this day instead of Sunday December 6.
December 26 - Museum CLOSED

Mandarin Museum (11964 Mandarin Road) is open every Saturday (except Dec. 26) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park .

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road)  will be open on Saturday, November 7 from 12-4. Watch for 2016 schedule in December issue. 
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We NEED you - call Paula today at 403-5024 or [email protected] and she will get you started. We especially need docents and tour guides for the school tours.

You'll feel a sense of community if you volunteer - we have a great team at MMHS! 

One of the best things about Fall is the blooming of the candelabra cassia at the Mandarin Museum butterfly garden.

These large yellow flowers reach for the sky, looking clearly like flickering flames.

They don't last for long, so be sure to come out and catch a view soon. 


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 

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