Memorial Park Added To National Register Of Historic Places

Nov 9, 2017

After taking a beating recently during Hurricane Irma, here’s some good news about Memorial Park’s future.

The Department of the Interior has announced the park at 1620 Riverside Avenue has been added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.

“The park was the product of Jacksonville citizens who banded together soon after the end of the First World War to honor Floridians who died during the war, and it is the only statewide World War I memorial,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner in a news release.

“This designation will help this landmark continue to attract old and new visitors for generations to come,” said Jacksonville Mayor, Lenny Curry in a statement.

The popular gathering spot also got a boost in 1986 when the Memorial Park Association was formed. The nonprofit works to enhance, promote and preserve the public green space.

The park, located along the St. Johns River, is anchored by a large sculpture created by noted artist Charles Adrian Pillars.

Pillars established a studio in St. Augustine in 1894, according to artistsofoldflorida.com, and later moved to Jacksonville.

Plans for the park began in November 1918 when George Hardee of the Jacksonville Rotary Club put forth a proposal for a memorial to honor Floridians who died in service during “The Great War,” known today as World War I, according to the Memorial Park Association.

By the end of 1924, construction and plantings were sufficiently complete to erect Pillars’ memorial. It  was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1924, according to the City of Jacksonville.

“Memorial Park has always been Jacksonville’s premier historic park. And now, thanks to the efforts of the Memorial Park Association and especially the tenacity of past association president Agnes Danciger, we are on the Register and nationally recognized as such. What an honor to achieve this status,” said Percy Rosenbloom III, President of the Memorial Park Association.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.