October 2020   

Dear Friends,

September was a heartbreaking month for MMHS due to the unexpected death of one of our MMHS family members - Orren "Bo" Phillips. Many of you may have known Bo. He was born and raised here, graduated from duPont High School, and owned and operated his own business, Cannon Welding, for 50 years. He had a beautiful family and you may know some of them. You may have danced with him. And, you may have seen him around Walter Jones Historical Park in the many years he served as a volunteer and member of the Board of Directors. We saw him less so in the last few years, as Bo built a new house in Cape San Blas, and he and his wife Pat opened a new and exciting chapter in their lives.
Bo loved history, and years ago he told former President Jim Towart that he wanted to volunteer with MMHS because he "was a nut for old things!" And that was the TRUTH! He could build anything and he could fix anything. He and his son Kirk actually saved, disassembled and rebuilt the log cabin Losco Winery. Former President, Beth Myer, shared the story of going to the Losco property to take a look at the cabin. It was in pretty bad shape and totally covered inside with shag carpet. Beth said she wasn't  so sure about the idea - then she heard Bo say "We'd love to have it" - and the rest is history. It now tells a fabulous story in the park. 
He also decided the park needed a sawmill, so he took it upon himself to dig remains of the old Wheeler Sawmill out of the banks of Julington Creek and reassemble it! Can you even imagine doing that? And, later he added a sugar cane grinder to the area.  He fixed everything that needed fixing (including the barn) and was at every event - for years and years. And right at his side was Pat and a cadre of friends and family members who wanted to help him. I could go on and on about his contributions to preserving Mandarin's history because they are simply amazing.  But you get the point by now - Bo actually laid his hands and his heart on every single structure in the Walter Jones Park. 
So, the next time you walk through the park, please pause and think of Bo - and be grateful for the gifts he has given our community because he voluntarily served us all with his skill, his passion and his love. He was indeed one of a kind and he will be greatly missed by so many.
Peace and love to his family ... we thank you for sharing him with us.  
Sandy Arpen

Pat generously asked that memorial gifts in Bo's name be in support of the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. We are very grateful. Should you like to do so, please send to Mandarin Museum, PO Box 23601 Jacksonville, 32241 or go to the DONATE button on our website at Thank you.  
We won...for the second year!

We are proud to be voted the
2020 Best History Museum  from WJXT  and Visit Jacksonville's 
"JAX BEST" contest.

Thank you to all who voted for us. 

CLICK HERE to see more.


Cultural Service Grant Program Results

We are proud to be eligible to apply for the City of Jacksonville's Cultural Service Grant Program (CSGP), administered through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Eligible organizations are thoroughly vetted and closely monitored.

The CSGP has offered public support to arts and cultural organizations so we can contribute even more to the quality of life of Jacksonville's residents.  
On September 30, the CSGP made funding decisions for Fiscal Year 2020-21. We were so grateful to have been awarded  $6,637 in funding to support our program operations from this grant.

Thank you to: the City of Jacksonville and our City Council, to the volunteers who serve on the panel (a huge time commitment) - and specifically to Kedgar Volta who visited MMHS this year. Also to the Cultural Council Board and to Amy Palmer and the staff  at the Cultural Council for administering the grant so smoothly.
Did she say LAST MONTH - "Don't give up yet....."?
Yes, yes we really did say that AND we really did think we were going to break ground for sure in September. But, alas....the processes of getting everything signed off by the City is still going very slowly.
But, we continue to work hard and safely behind the scenes to be ready to pull off not only the addition of two more rooms at Mandarin Museum, but also a complete redo of all exhibits inside. New exhibits in the main exhibit room will include: "The Untold History of Black Mandarin", an expanded Harriet Beecher Stowe area and short stories of Mandarin's complete history including "Always the River"; a new timeline; our first residents (Timuqua); early days of Spanish and English; 19th Century territorial and statehood period; the Seminole War in Mandarin; the Mandarin Boardwalk and historic homes; A Soldier's Story; schools; recreation (like the Little Train, Orange Pickers baseball, horse activities, Mandarin Players, etc.); 20th Century landmarks and residents; a map of pre-1970 San Jose Blvd depicting local businesses; and a display called "What Happened to Rural Mandarin?"     
And, the Maple Leaf will be an expanded and cohesive story in a very special and unique space of its own, while the Art Gallery will be revived with some of the fabulous art we have of Mandarin artists and Mandarin scenes. 
All of these stories will be told with lots of interesting photos, documents and objects from our collection.
As you can see the main room is in total change and has become a work-room for the moment. The soldiers stand guard - they are NOT going away. Nor is Harriet's porch. But all the Maple Leaf items will be in the new room which will open where the porch is in this picture.  
Stay tuned as this exciting work progresses. 

Ed Bearss
Historian Extraordinaire 
We were so sorry to hear of the passing of Edwin C. Bears on September 15, at age 97. 
Ed Bearss was the Chief Historian of the National Park Service when he declared: "The wreck of the Maple Leaf is unsurpassed as a source of Civil War material culture....and the most important repository of Civil War artifacts ever found and will probably remain so." (1994)
We were so honored to have him pay a visit to the museum's 150th Anniversary exhibit of the National Historic Landmark shipwreck, Maple Leaf. He is seen here with Dr. Keith Holland, who found the wreck and and recovered the thousands of artifacts that exist today. I think he would be happy to know of the expansion of our museum to make a special place for this National Historic Landmark. It was certainly a story that was near and dear to his heart.  
To learn more about this man who contributed so much to Civil War history during his long career, CLICK HERE for a National Geographic article written after his death.
Also, If you missed Mark Wood's column in late August about Maple Leaf, CLICK HERE. We are grateful to the shout-out from Mark about the value of preserving the history of this unique ship.
Thank you Gary Garrett


Those of you who follow us on Facebook have seen this painting done by Mandarin artist Gary Garrett, as it has been our banner photo for a while now. Gary has gifted two other of his paintings to us as well - one of the Under the Oaks Jam and another of the Losco Winery.

As you can tell, he is a wonderful artist and a very generous man who loves his Mandarin community. So during his birthday week, Gary asked his Facebook friends to donate in his name to Mandarin Museum & Historical Society...and he raised $310 on behalf of our organization!

We are grateful to Gary and all those who supported us through their friendship with Gary for this kind gift. It will be designated to help with the costs of the museum exhibit  renovation.
Checking in with Mandarin's Frog Man

Some of you have asked about the Frog Man since we closed down in March. As he was a weekly Saturday fixture at the museum, we all wondered what he'd do when we didn't have Frog Paintings and robust sales to keep up with. 
Well, we're happy to report that Don Bowden is doing just fine. He took months off molding and painting frogs to catch up on the all the backlog of work that needed to be done around his house and yard. All that "deferred maintenance" was because he was spending 70 hours a week for YEARS making frogs and turtles to raise money for the museum! It was probably a good thing that he finally had time to do something for himself for a change.
He misses his Saturdays with visitors and other volunteers, but he still comes to the park early every Saturday morning to pick up trash and hide little bags of toys around for the kids to find. He gets great joy knowing how excited little ones get when they find a special surprise hiding near a frog or under a leaf, so he said he couldn't stop doing that.
We also get asked if we have any frogs in the museum for sale. And the answer is "Yes, we do." We have a small selection of painted and unpainted ones. So, if you really want one while we're closed send an email to [email protected] and we will make a plan to have someone meet you there at a mutually convenient time.  
This goes for books and artwork as well. We are happy to accommodate people by meeting you if there is something you want from our gift shop.
Pictured here is Don and his sister Kaye Hartley. We sure miss both of them AND their partners in the Frog Paintings, Wendy Short and Susan Cason.  

Mandarin Newsline

The October edition of the Mandarin Newsline is out. This free newspaper is our chief way of sharing history stories, events and programs with the public. They are able to publish free papers due to the robust local advertising. Please pay attention to the ads and shop and eat at those businesses that support the community in this way.

This month we are happy to say that Brett Nolan is back at it with his "Back in Time with Brett" column. He features the Mandarin Store and Post Office in this issue. Welcome back Brett!

To read the entire Newsline click  HERE.

We continue to be grateful for COVID relief

We have been closed since mid-March and thus have received no regular income from sales, tours or donations. We are extremely grateful to receive COVID Relief grants of $4000 from Florida Humanities CARES and $8000 from the City of Jacksonville CARES through the 2020 CARES Act. These funds allow us to stay on top of our bills.

Please understand that even though we remain closed to the public in order to maintain the highest levels of safety for our volunteers and visitors, we are working very hard individually and in small groups to completely update and renovate all exhibit spaces and the Archives Room at Mandarin Museum.

Florida Humanities and NEH

Funding has been provided to Mandarin Museum & Historical Society (MMHS) from the National Endowment for the Humanities through a grant from Florida Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by MMHS do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Look at this beautiful photo - take some deep breaths, stay calm, be positive and stay safe.

Despite all the rain we've had in August, the butterflies still manage to get out in the Butterfly Garden.

If you have any river or park photos you'd like to be considered for this spot - please send a jpeg image to [email protected]

The Mandarin Museum and the Schoolhouse are usually 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 usually open from 10-2 on the first Saturday.

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.    
However, these activities are not available at this time due to COVID-19. Reopening will be announced as soon as a date is determined.
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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