Historical Society Plans Jacksonville Music Museum In Old Casket Factory

Jun 19, 2020

The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynryd, Molly Hatchet and The Derek Trucks Band are among the internationally successful acts with roots in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Historical Society Senior Archivist Mitch Hemann.
Credit Jacksonville Historical Society

Now the Jacksonville Historical Society wants to celebrate Jacksonville’s role in music with a new museum and performance venue dedicated to the musical genre.

Friday the historical society announced plans to launch the museum in the old 1882 Florida Casket Company building in the sports complex area of Downtown Jacksonville.

Related: Metro Jacksonville Photo Tour Of The Casket Companny & Old St. Luke's Hospital

“A museum recognizing, and commemorating, Jacksonville’s rich musical legacy is long overdue. From LaVilla in its heyday, to the origins of Southern rock and beyond, it’s time Jacksonville’s contributions to American music were counted,” said Mitch Hemann, a musician, as well as the senior archivist at the JHS.

Hemann will be recording a performance at the Florida Casket Company to formally launch the project on June 25. It will air on the JHS YouTube page, with the title: The Music of the Allman Brothers and the Birth of Southern Rock.

A 14-member task force has been assembled to move the idea from concept to reality. In addition to Hemann, the members are:

  • Alan Bliss, the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Chief Executive Officer
  • The Rev. Canon J. Allison DeFoor, of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida
  • Mike Boulware and John Gordon, owners of B-Side Vintage, a music shop in Gainesville
  • Dr. Richard Danford, Jr., president of the Jacksonville Urban League
  • David Chauncey, Esq., an attorney with ADB Legal
  • Ennis Davis, an urban planner and founder of The Jaxson
  • Dennis Whittle, president of The Whittle Group and a founder of Normal>Next
  • Stanton Hudmon, principal at Pine Street/RPS Commercial Real Estate
  • Charles “Chip” Storey, a founder of Normal>Next
  • Randy DeFoor, Jacksonville City Councilmember
  • Michael and Leigh Howton Philips, Southern Rock aficionados.

Bliss believes artifacts will stream in once the project is launched.

“There are people here who went to school with Ronnie Van Zant [founder of Lynyrd Skynyrd] or knew Gregg and Duane Allman when they lived here for a brief time in early 1969 and established the Allman Brothers Band,” he said in an email to WJCT News.

Although Southern rock is expected to be prominently featured, the plan is for the venue to encompass more than that, including blues, jazz and country, which all have influenced Jacksonville musicians. 

In addition to showcasing musical history, the JHS expects bands and musicians to perform at the new venue starting in 2021.

The JHS is inviting the public to pariticpate by donating artifacts from music performers who came from Jacksonville or are otherwise connected to the city.

“I believe we’ll see a treasure trove of items come flying out of attics, garages and other places,” said Rev. DeFoor, a member of the JHS’s board of directors and one of the originators of the idea.

People who wish to contribute can contact the Jacksonville Historical Society at (904) 665-0064 or email info@jaxhistory.org. To donate online, visit jaxhistory.org/donate-now/

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.