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Discover the History of Mandarin, Florida

Mandarin, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville located just off of busy I-295, filled with subdivisions and strip malls, is also full of history. It’s that history that whispers to us like the wind through the moss-covered oaks when we visit Walter Jones Park or the Old Post Office, both preserved and cared for by the Mandarin Historical Society. The starting point in discovering the history of our area is the beautiful Mandarin Museum located at Walter Jones Park (11964 Mandarin Rd. 32223) and open every Saturday from 9am-4pm. The Museum contains informative displays of the history of Mandarin, including information about one of Mandarin’s most famous residents, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  The Museum also contains a collection of artifacts from the Civil War-era, Union ship, The Maple Leaf,”  which was sunk in the St. Johns River in 1864 by the Confederates and uncovered in the 1980s by local dentist, Dr. Keith Holland and his team. The Museum regularly hosts “Meet the Maple Leaf Divers” days.

The Mandarin Schoolhouse

The History isn’t solely contained to the Museum, just to the north of it you will find the “Mandarin Schoolhouse,” which was used to educate freed slaves during Reconstruction as part of the mission established by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Historical Society has recently finished restoring the Schoolhouse and turning it into a museum! Most of the building has been remodeled as a schoolhouse complete with a chalkboard and benches, while exhibits line the walls and back of the Museum. (Please see my separate post about the Schoolhouse)

William Webb House

Take a stroll down paved paths at Walter Jones Park where the Mandarin Museum is located and you will find a restored 1875 farmhouse and an 1876 barn. These buildings show what life was like when Major William Webb owned the property in the late 1800s and are an example of a typical Mandarin homestead of the era. The Jones family owned the property from 1900-1992.  Meander down the pathways from the Webb House to the St. Johns River and the boardwalk that follows the property along the river. 

Old Store and Post Office

Walter Jones ran the Old Store located at 12471 Mandarin Road and was the Post Master at the Mandarin Post Office, located in a side room of the store. The Post Office and store were closed in 1964, but have since been restored and are open to the public for tours and events. The 1st Sunday of the Month from 2-4 it is open for the “Under the Oaks” Open Music Jam, where they welcome anyone with an acoustic instrument to come and play with others.

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society do an excellent job of preserving and sharing the history of Mandarin.  For more information on the vibrant history of the community and upcoming events, check out the Mandarin Museum website, www.mandarinmuseum.net and “Like” them on Facebook, facebook.com/mandarinmuseum.

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