September 2017 
Dear friends of MMHS,


We are so excited to share some very important news with you. Many of you know that the Mandarin Museum building in Walter Jones Historical Park was opened in 2004 - thirteen years ago. Since then we have collected many historical objects, photographs, documents and pieces of Mandarin art. We want to show the community more of what we have, but we have, in fact, outgrown our space.

So...we are launching a museum expansion campaign that will give us one more exhibit room and a larger archive/collection/work room. The new exhibit space will be a special and designated Maple Leaf gallery. We will be able to expand and refresh the fascinating Maple Leaf story with more artifacts and documents.

Adding that space will also allow us to reopen our Art Gallery to rotating art depicting  Mandarin scenes and Mandarin artists as well as special shows. We will be able to expand our Harriet Beecher Stowe displays and add new stories and objects that have never been displayed before.

This will take some time, as we must raise the necessary funds, apply for a matching grant and then build. We expect it will take until 2019 to accomplish. But we are starting now!

And, we are off to a terrific start due to the generosity of several residents who we will name in future communications.  We need to raise $100,000 to apply for the grant and we already have half of that, before announcing our plans.

Please, if you would like to talk with us about a major personal or business gift or a fundraising idea or a contact with an interested party, give us a call at 268-0784 or send an email to and a Board member will meet with you. If you would like to make a donation, we will have a special donation bucket in the museum starting Smithsonian Day, September 23.

This project will be like the schoolhouse project - it will take the support and help of the whole community. We know we can do this and we welcome any one who would like to be part of the team.

Sandy Arpen for the Board of Directors
Smithsonian magazine "Museum Day "
September 23 from 9-4

Mandarin Museum & Historical Society is participating in this 2017 Smithsonian magazine event - a day designed to encourage people to discover the wonderful museums in their own communities. At Mandarin Museum, admission is always free, but on September 23 visitors will also receive the member discount on many museum store purchases. And, all four historic buildings in the Walter Jones Historical Park will be open for viewing as well as the Mandarin Museum. Also, the Civil War steamship Maple Leaf divers and Dr. Keith Holland will be present from 12-4 to meet people individually and give them a personal tour of the soldiers' artifacts  and the exhibit.
Turn your phones off and let your imagination take you on a journey back in time as you stroll through the beautiful park. Stand on the boardwalk and picture the steamboats coming up the St. Johns and arriving at the wharf with your mail and dry goods. Hear the screaming whistle of the Maple Leaf as it hit a Confederate mine and went to the bottom of the river. Look at the tools in the barn and picture this place as a busy farmstead of orange groves and crops. Visit the farmhouse and feel the life of the families that lived there over a hundred years ago. And step into the little log cabin that was once the Losco Winery and smell the grapes and think of Pvt. Marion Losco who left that place for France and never came home.
Looking Back on August

We had our first "Back to school at the old schoolhouse" event on August 12. Lots of fun.

Third Thursday Lecture - Scott Grant gave a fascinating talk about the sinking of the S.S. Gulfamerica  by a German U-boat just 4 miles offshore from Jacksonville Beach in 1942. All were mesmerized by his stories.

At the August frog painting we had multi-generation family painting beautiful frogs.  
Such fun for the whole family!

Did you know...

that the Mandarin Pharmacy  stood on the corner of State Road 13 (San Jose Blvd. ) and Loretto Road until around 1988 when Taco Bell bought the property!

This little corner pharmacy was a Mandarin landmark. It was the place to get your prescriptions, but so much more. It had a little store, a real soda fountain and you could get burgers and dogs, real handmade milkshakes, cherry colas, and  ice cream sundaes at the counter. Lots of kids would ride their bikes up there or their horses, which they would tie up to the hitching post.

The little office on the right side had several lives - it was once a game room with pinball machines, the office of Dr. S. Joseph Bailey (Family Practice), and the offices of the Justice of the Peace and Constable.
Gabriele at one her favorite places, County Dock, with her beloved pup Annie.
"Why I Love Mandarin"

This month MMHS Board member, Gabriele Dempsey will share the many reason she loves Mandarin. Gabriele, an interior designer, heads up our Facilities Committee. And she is ALWAYS looking for new volunteers to help with the many park clean-ups she coordinates during the year.   
"My husband Bruce and I moved to Mandarin 40 years ago, coming from Tallahassee where we both taught at Florida State University. We came to visit a friend and lo and behold, we moved to Jacksonville shortly after my husband was offered a job. Mandarin reminded us of Tallahassee...many huge live oaks and certainly rural.
We bought property that was an old  nursery, not far from the corner of Mandarin Road and County Dock Road. We raised our children Max and Kate in the area, which at the time had no sidewalks. San Jose Blvd. was a sleepy two-lane road that extended to Switzerland and the William Bartram Trail.

I remember after we built our house I opened our back door and a feral pig went charging past the door. People regularly rode horses on Mandarin Road, not much traffic in those days. The kids went to County Dock almost everyday when school was out, jumping off the dock for a dip. They begged me to buy a canoe, and I broke down getting a gheenoe with a small motor, which was used to explore the river. We didn't worry that much in those long as they had their life preservers!!
Mandarin Supermarket was the only grocery store then, owned by Betty and Joe Cury. The market was the hub of the neighborhood and was located where our Publix on Mandarin Road currently resides. This was in the day before credit cards. Most of us had "open accounts" and you would shop and sign your grocery receipt, and at the end of the month you settled up with one check. Betty Cury would hold our kids when they were babies while we gathered what we needed. Those were the days when we had a real butcher who could "dress" any kind of meat you needed to order, by band saws!! And no Purell!! We had no concept of germs.
I say to myself almost every day...I should have taken pictures of what San Jose Blvd. looked like then, two lanes with many many trees lining the road. I never expected that it would look like it does now, just a sea of shopping centers on either side of the road, for miles. Of course this was before cell phones, that we really use as cameras today. What we could have been recording!!
One of my biggest joys was the building of the Mandarin Museum and Historic Society, where I have been on the board for several years. We walk our dogs through the park almost every day, and no matter the weather, we soak up the sounds of the birds and the smell of citrus blossoms in the air.

THE RIVER AND BOARDWALK, the mosquitoes, the humidity, it's all part of the Mandarin experience.
CITRUS - Mandarin is an explosion of citrus blossoms and it is like an aphrodisiac. I am transported to the days of Harriet B. Stowe when that scent comes wafting through the air. She called the budding of the flowers" the week of pearls" I have a small grove of 14 trees that are my treasure. My husband has become an orange marmalade expert!!
THE MAPLE LEAF - what a pleasure it has been volunteering at the museum with Dr. Holland who discovered the Civil War vessel still in the depths of the St Johns River. He and  his amazing band of divers come once a month to weave their magic of the tales of this historic vessel.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE - what a wonderful addition to our park done through the diligent work of our volunteers. What an effort it was to preserve the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph and their work to educate the children of the slaves after emancipation.
There is so much more to say - music from the JAMS, the explosion of FROGS!!
ORDINANCE 2016-805 -  How proud I am of all the work that the residents of Mandarin put forth to stop 21 homes being built on a postage stamp of property. The battle is not over, but the community came together, and what a force we were.

 The monthly "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" day at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park. 
Look for the divers next at Smithsonian Day - Sept. 23.

 Meet and talk with Dr. Keith Holland and the men who found the Maple Leaf shipwreck and recovered the Civil War artifacts from this National Historic Landmark site in the St. Johns River at Mandarin Point.

This is a unique and special opportunity to learn about Civil War history. 
Remember our Regular Events
The monthly "Under the Oaks" music jam will take place at Walter Jones Historical Park on Sunday, September 3 from 2-4.

Bring an acoustic instrument if you would like to play. Listeners bring a lawn chair and water. The Mandarin Museum and St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open during this event.

This event is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network. It is a "weather-dependent" event.

The historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office is open from noon to 4 pm on Saturday, September 2. Located at 12471 Mandarin Road.

The old Mandarin Store and Post Office evokes memories of small town and village general stores across America. It was the hub of village life from the time it opened in 1911 until it closed in 1964. It sold everything from canned goods from South America, to meat, animal feed, fish, cold soda and penny candy 

George DeMarino
Sea Turtle Day at
Mandarin Museum
Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 14 when we will have two special events featuring the beloved sea turtle!

First thing in the morning, at 9 am, in the schoolhouse, children have the opportunity to learn all about these magical creatures. The presentation will be conducted by MMHS volunteer George DeMarino, who also volunteers at the beaches, patrolling and protecting these endangered marine turtles.
The class is free and parents must also attend, but you do need to RSVP due to limited space. Reserve your place by emailing or 268-0784.
Frog Man turtle - for sale in Gift Shop 
  After the class, you may actually paint your own concrete sea turtle at our Turtle Painting party - from 10am-12pm, in front of the museum. The Frog Man purchased a sea turtle mold recently and he is making limited editions of the turtle, but he decided to have a special painting party on this day featuring the turtle because so many people love them.
On the 14th you may purchase a plain turtle for $24. and we provide the paint and  brushes for you to make your own  special creation. It is for children of all ages - we have lots of kids who come with parents and grandparents or aunts and uncles. Sometimes adults come by themselves.  All generations have a great time. This is also an event that must be preregistered. Please email or call us ASAP if you would like to paint, but we need your email address so we can remind you. It is really important that you come if you sign up . If your plans change, PLEASE call and let us know right away because we always have a waiting list of folks who want to come.
TURTLE FACTS: " Five species of sea turtles are found swimming in Florida's waters and nesting on Florida's beaches. The most common is the Loggerhead. All sea turtles found in Florida are protected under state statutes." (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)

September  2 - Store and Post Office open 12-4 
September 3 - "Under the Oaks" music jam - 2-4 
September 23 - Smithsonian Magazine's - "Museum Day Live" - ALL buildings open today and "Meet the Divers" from 12-4.
October 7 - Store and Post Office Open 12-4 
October 8 - "Under the Oaks" music jam 2-4 
October 14 - Class for Children at the schoolhouse - "Sea Turtles" - by George DeMarino- from 9-10
October 14 - Sea Turtle Painting party - 10-12
October 21 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
November 4 - Store and Post Office Open 12-4
November 5 - "Under the Oaks" music jam
November - NO Meet the Maple Leaf Divers this month 
November 16 - Third Thursday Lecture
December 2 - Winter Celebration - all buildings open, special activities, "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" - 11-4

Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children are open every Saturday  from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road) 
The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open monthly from 12-4 on the 1st Saturday of the month.  
State Road 13 (San Jose Blvd.) in 1954 looking north toward Mandarin Road.  No traffic in Mandarin's "commercial district!"
In 1953 Mary Graff, a Mandarin resident and social studies teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, wrote a book called
Mandarin on the St. Johns.
The forward was written by Professor Rembert W. Patrick, University of Florida.   
Professor Patrick  described Mandarin in this way - "On a bluff overlooking the lethargic  St. Johns River, not far from Jacksonville, lies Mandarin. It is a small and, in a materialistic sense, unimportant town. The highways of trade and travel pass it by, industry ignores it, and little of agricultural value surrounds it. Few Floridians could place Mandarin geographically, and for many the name connotes a robed Chinese official rather than a community of people.
"But Mandarin is home for almost two thousand Floridians. Though many of them leave it in the morning to practice their professions or engage in trade elsewhere, they return at night to the peace of their little village. Children play and grow and learn in a wholesome environment, men and women pass friendly greetings at the general store and post office  while the postmistress sorts the morning mail, real American citizens assemble at the community club to to solve local problems, and worshipers unite before God in simple churches."
He goes on to state that "good history stems from the activities of ordinary men and women who live in such settlements..."  
Certainly lots of things have changed in Mandarin,  but much remains the same. Mary Graff knew Mandarin was a special place and had "good history" and stories that needed to be told. And so do we at MMHS.  And so do you if you have taken the time to read this newsletter. Thank you for your support.  
Our mission: Mandarin Museum & Historical Society preserves and shares the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire.


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society,
a volunteer based non-profit 501C3 organization which is located in the Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Road. Jacksonville, Florida.

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.