September 2020   

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that August 26th marked the 20th anniversary of Walter Jones Historical Park being opened!
The Florida Communities Trust and the City of Jacksonville thankfully purchased this 10 acres from the Walter Jones family to make it Jacksonville's first historic park. By 2002 the barn and farmhouse were renovated and open to the public. In 2004 the brand new Mandarin Museum was opened and is now being expanded. Since then MMHS has added the log cabin Losco Winery, the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, the Wheeler Sawmill and the vintage sugar grinder to the property - making four historic buildings and the Mandarin Museum in the park- all managed by MMHS. MMHS is so grateful that FCT and COJ had the foresight and commitment to save this beautiful land for the Mandarin story to be told.  
Enjoy these "before and after" pics of the farmhouse and the barn. Thanks to Bob White and  R.G. White Construction, these buildings were historically renovated and they represent the old farmstead beautifully today. 


Do you remember last year when we WON
the 2019 Best History Museum Award from WJXT 's "JAX BEST" contest?
We were SO honored and so proud !

The contest is on again for 2020 and you can vote for us to win again - two years in a row. Voting began yesterday and ends on September 13. You can vote 1X/day.

Even though we are not open right now, we think we are are still the best history museum in the city and we will be even better when we reopen the doors with a brand new Maple Leaf gallery, a renewed art gallery and a totally renovated main exhibit area. We will be telling more stories about Mandarin's fascinating and important history than we ever have before.

If you'd like to vote for us - please click this link and vote for us - then save the link and vote once a day for the next two weeks.

Don't give up yet..... 

We know we have been saying for MONTHS that construction of the museum expansion was about to begin...and then came a pandemic and then a very slow permitting process but, FINALLY, it looks like we truly about to begin! During our pandemic shut-down, we have had many volunteers working 1-on-1 or in small groups to prepare the existing exhibit rooms for a complete renovation. Right now, everything has been taken off the walls or moved around and new display panels are being built by Board member Mike Myers.

At the same time, other volunteers have been researching, writing, editing and designing the new display area. And, the Archives team of Pam Neumann, Lynn MacEwen, Barabra Pucci, and Connie Hendricks have been working on the many tasks they have to do to be ready for a doubling of their work space. To say they are happy is an understatement!

We'd like to give a grateful shout-out to our local Lowe's, located on St. Augustine Road. Mike purchased all the materials to build these exhibit panels there and they were very generous to give us some discount on the cost. We thank Lowe's for their community spirit and we always ask our members and friends to support those businesses who support MMHS.

Mike is happy too! Finally we will tell the "Untold History of Black Mandarin!" through a brand new exhibit space. 
 Mike Barwald
It is with great shock and sadness that we learned recently of the passing of Mike Barwald, lifetime Mandarin resident and citrus expert. Mike and his father, Billy Barwald, owned the Flying Dragon Citrus Nursery on Loretto Road on property that had been their family's homestead for about 100 years. Both Billy and Mike were considered the true experts on North Florida citrus and they planted many a tree in Mandarin, including those in Walter Jones Historical Park.
Sadly, last year Mike left Mandarin and relocated to Central Florida. His unexpected death occurred in April, but we just learned of it. He is seen here packing up after one of the many Winter Celebrations that he attended. Visitors always loved talking with him about citrus questions and Mandarin history, as Mike was also a Mandarin historian. We are fortunate that Mike followed in his dad's footsteps by doing a "Front Porch Story" event in which he spoke about life in Mandarin in the 1950s and 60s. His talk was filmed and is in the MMHS archives. It will hopefully be available for folks to listen to in the future. 
Billy and Mike Barwald were institutions in Mandarin. Billy's parents moved their 2-story home from Riverside to property on Loretto Road, right across from Loretto Elementary School in the late 1930s.  The move involved bringing it down the river on a barge and then rolling it on logs from County Dock to Loretto. Prior to that move, however, the family had a log cabin hunting lodge on the property where the nursery was established later. So Mike's roots were deep - he knew just about everybody - he could tell amazing stories - he KNEW citrus,  and it was very sad to lose the nursery and now Mike. He will be greatly missed. 
Our condolences to Mike's sisters. 

A Great Story

The first photo below was in our archives. We wanted to use it for the new exhibit on Black history, and we knew the wagon belonged to and was being driven by Leo "Mossa" Anderson. Mr. Anderson owned the big commercial property at the corner of Loretto and San Jose where the Winn-Dixie is now located. He had a large produce farm there. He was well-known and beloved by all - seen all over Mandarin with his mule and wagon, plowing up big garden areas for families. And many people who were children here at the time remember riding in his wagon - it was a big treat! (And, by the way, he attended the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children and his picture is inside the schoolhouse.) 
So we loved the photo. But we wondered who the children were. The photo was placed on the Mandarin Museum Facebook page and shared with the Facebook group called "I Was Mandarin Before Mandarin Was Cool". We asked if anyone recognized the children.  
Within hours, all of the kids were identified. They were being taken for a wagon ride to a birthday party at Miss Aggie's Store. And to make it even better - we had a picture of the same children at the party! It was in the early 50s. 
Children in the foreground from left to right: Mark Price, Dale Jones, Debbie Tanner, Becky Jones, and Jackie Jones.

Children behind them from left to right: Charlene Hartley, Lonnie Hartley, Karla Price (right behind Mossa and only forehead is seen), and peeking around Jackie Jones is Janis Price.

We are discovering so many gems like this as we research our archives for this museum expansion.

In Our Collection

"Mandarin on  the St. Johns" is the only book written about Mandarin's history to date. It was written in 1953 by Mandarin resident and history teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, Miss Mary B. Graff.
This photo of Miss Graff holding her book was actually part of a newspaper story about her. It is a fascinating book and we encourage all Mandarin residents to read it. You should be able to get copies from the library, used book stores, OR we have copies for sale at the museum and the Mandarin Community Club (which owns the rights to the book) also has copies for sale. If you'd like to get one from MMHS - just call 268-0784 and leave a message. Someone will call you back and make arrangements to meet you at the museum.
The foreward, by Dr. Rembert W. Patrick of the University of Florida, was written 17 years before the development boom created by the opening of the Buckman Bridge. Mandarin today...many things are much different now...but then, many things are also the same.  
"On a bluff overlooking the lethargic St. Johns River, not far from Jacksonville, lies Mandarin. It is a small and, in a materialistic sense, an 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 to almost two thousand Floridians. Though many of them leave it in the morning to practice their professions or to engage in trade elsewhere, they return at night to the peace of their little village. Children play and grow and learn in the wholesome environment of Mandarin, 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 solve local problems, and worshipers unite before God in simple churches."  

Mandarin Newsline

The September 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.

And, be sure to read the expanded story of Eagle Scout candidate Brigham Pratt on page 7. Brigham did his project in Walter Jones Historical Park.

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 be safe.

Thank you to photographer Rick Strickland for this beautiful photo of a yellow-crowned night-heron, taken in the river by the boardwalk. What a gorgeous bird!

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