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Arts & Culture

Hidden Gems: The Lovett Courtyard

WJCTNews.org's "Hidden Gems" is a web-only series checking out some of the great places in Jacksonville you may not know exist.

The massive Main Library in the heart of downtown Jacksonville is a gem, but it’s certainly not hidden. The 300,000 square foot structure fills the better part of a city block, and is the largest public library in the state.

But there’s a “secret” space inside that isn’t so obvious to those passing by. It can be easy to miss, even for those who stop in to check out a novel or log on to the library’s computers. The Betsy Lovett Courtyard on the 2nd floor is an oasis in the middle of the city. The open space is framed by surrounding downtown buildings, shaded with palm trees and anchored by a reflecting pool with fountains.

“It’s a great respite from downtown,” says Kathy Lussier, a spokeswoman for Jacksonville’s public libraries. “It’s great when kids come to the library with school groups or with their parents, or for people working downtown who want to have lunch in the courtyard.”

The space is open to the public, but after hours it's also available to rent for private events and has become a favorite place for weddings.

“I’ve seen some beautiful wedding pictures,” says Lussier, “because at night the trees and the fountain are lit up.”