MMHS NEWS - August 2015
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

As we move closer and closer to having the schoolhouse open, we realize that we really need more volunteers to cover all of our activities here at Mandarin Museum. We want to have the schoolhouse open every Saturday when the museum is open and we would like to have the farmhouse open at least once a month. It takes more people to make that happen. We have a very dedicated and enthusiastic group of regular volunteers who have made it possible to keep the doors open and offer the community some amazing events and programs. But we are growing and need your help.

In this newsletter you will learn of our new Volunteer Coordinator. She would love to hear from you. Think about joining the volunteer team that makes things happen and know that you are making a big difference in Mandarin. Don't us and let us know what your interests are and we will find a perfect place for you to serve.
Meet our new Volunteer Coordinator - Paula Suhey
We are so happy to welcome longtime Mandarin resident Paula Suhey to our team. Paula will be serving as our Volunteer Coordinator. She will be developing our volunteer program, recruiting, interviewing, training and coordinating volunteers for all of the many activities we have at MMHS.

Paula comes to the job with a wealth of experiences doing community relations, special events and work with non-profits in the area. She is also a freelance writer and blogger.

If you already volunteer, please be aware that Sandy will be transitioning the volunteer scheduling, etc. to Paula over the next month. If you are  thinking about becoming a volunteer, please give Paula a call at 403-5024 and she will be happy to get you started.

August Third Thursday Lecture: Mary Atwood,  

Author and Photographer

In August, we welcome local author and fine art photographer Mary Atwood. Mary's fine art photography is included in numerous public, private and corporate collections in the United States and France. Her photographs have been exhibited in galleries, museums and public art venues, with a total of sixteen solo shows in the last two years alone. To date, her works have won more than fifty awards in local, regional and national juried exhibitions.


At this lecture, Mary will discuss her new book 

"Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast" and she will display some of the stunning photos that were taken for the book, including two from the Webb Farmhouse which is located in Walter Jones Historical Park.  


This book is an essential read for anyone interested in visiting the wide variety of fascinating early residential structures which are open to the public in the North Florida area. With five geographic sections containing short chapters about each of the chronologically listed homes, this book provides readers with an easy to use guide for planning entertaining and educational day trips throughout the region.  


Among the homes featured are some of the nation's oldest Spanish Colonial structures located in St. Augustine, the Kingsley Plantation house on Jacksonville's Fort George Island, and simple "Cracker" style houses located throughout the area (including a whole chapter on Major William Wirt Webb's house). Collectively, these homes span a time period of more than 250 years. In addition to the informative and absorbing text, "Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast" includes ninety images; thirty vintage photographs accompanied by sixty original photographs of both the exteriors and the rarely photographed interiors of these important structures.   



Mary brings to life the rich histories of these homes, sharing stories of the courage displayed by those who made significant contributions to the area now known as Florida's First Coast. Books will be available for purchase and Mary will be happy to autograph them for you.


The Third Thursday program will be presented on Thursday, August 20 at and in partnership with the Mandarin Community Club, which is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Refreshments are at 6:30 pm with the presentation at 7:00 pm. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend.


Link to Mary's website
MMHS Yard Sale to Benefit the 1889 Schoolhouse 

Saturday, August 22, from 8 am - 2 pm at the 1889 Schoolhouse at Walter Jones Historical Park.  Buy some cool stuff while getting a sneak peek at the unfinished schoolhouse interior. All proceeds of the sale goes directly to finishing this historic building.  Tell your friends and neighbors to come out too.  




 "Music Under the Oaks" - acoustic music jam  at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Park 


Last month we wrapped up  the 4th of July weekend with more fabulous "Music Under the Oaks" magic.  


Musicians, artists and "listeners" gathered to hear and sing traditional songs and learn some original tunes as well. There were over 20 musicians in the song circle, taking their turn to lead the group with a favorite selection. The "Plein Air" and Jax Art League "Outsiders"  added much interest to the event as they sketched and painted throughout the day. And, of course, those who sang along added to the ambiance. 


This is a community jam - open to anyone who plays an acoustic instrument and wants to share and play with others.  Listeners are also welcome. Please (all) bring your own chair and water. There is no place large enough to move inside, so be watchful of summer weather as this is a "weather permitting" event - so far we have been  very lucky and have not had rain.

The jam is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network  and led by NFFN member and MMHS Board member, Pat Plumlee.


Plein Air artist Stephen Dunn captures the schoolhouse.



Sunday, August 2 

From 2-4 (weather permitting)

Walter Jones Historical Park

11964 Mandarin Rd.


Mandarin Museum will be open also.

There are bathrooms and a water fountain inside, as well as the wonderful exhibits related to Mandarin's history. Be sure to come in and see the painting of the music jam that was donated by Gary Garrett and browse the museum's gift shop.





Link to North Florida Folk Network  

Link to First Coast Plein Air Painters

Link to The Outsiders - Art League of Jacksonville 

Jim Hightower and Bo Phillips at the sawmill

Volunteer Spotlight
and thank you to:

Bo Phillips and 
 Jim Hightower


These two gentleman have been working hard on the reconstruction of a mid-20th century sawmill for several years. The Wheeler Sawmill was located on Oldfield Creek and some of the parts were found and recovered  from the creek.  Bo and Jim brought those parts to the park to make a display that will eventually teach the public about sawmills in general and in the Mandarin area. It took several years, but accurate replacements for the  missing parts were found and purchased with a Rotary Grant, completing the entire operation. Bo and Jim are putting all the pieces together, often helped by Bo's family.

Bo, a business owner (,  is a long-time volunteer and Board member. He was responsible for moving and rebuilding the Losco Winery and making needed repairs to the barn. His plans are to add a sugar cane grinder to the sawmill area and a kiosk of information about sawmills, sugar cane grinding and turpentine.

Jim, also a longtime volunteer, used to own and operate a sawmill, so he is an expert on the project. He can answer any question you might have and explain about the equipment and the operation of this mighty machine.

Mandarin depended heavily on the timber business at one time. Many sawmills dotted the shoreline of rivers and creeks,  most of them  commercial operations. There were two mills on Scott Mill Rd; one on Durbin Creek, one at the mouth of Julington Creek (Andrews Mill), and one on Oldfield Creek (Wheeler Mill). Other mills were in Switzerland, Palatka, Green Cove Springs, Hibernia and Bayard. One of the largest sawmill operations was located on Black Creek near Middleburg.


Naval stores were part of the timber industry. Pine trees produced turpentine and many by-products. One of the largest naval store operations was located on Julington Creek at the site of the Westminster Woods Retirement Home. It was known as the "Julington Naval Stores Company."


We can hardly wait to unveil this whole outdoor exhibit when it is complete. It would have never happened without the vision and very hard physical labor of these two volunteers.  We are grateful to them for giving the park this wonderful educational gift. 


Jim Biond hard at work
Schoolhouse update

Some amazing things are happening:
  • We applied for and were awarded a District Rotary grant  (on top of the $16,000 gifted to us from the "Laughs for Charity" event.) These funds are all designated for things that need to be accomplished to finish the entire project including the exhibits. The Rotary Club of Mandarin is also going to provide manpower for painting and landscaping. If you know a Rotarian, please thank them for this generosity.
  • We asked for help and people replied - with 28 individuals and two groups (Rotary and Mandarin Council (Jax Chamber of Commerace) offering their time and skills.
  • Jim Biond, an award winning artistic jeweler with  preservation construction talent, volunteered to fix every window in the building so they are working and can be secured. This took over a week of hot and dirty work. We are forever grateful to him and his wife Lia for this generous contribution. You may recognize Jim as a regular participant at the Mandarin Art Festival. Check his work out at .
  • We need scaffolding - and John McGraw, owner of First Coast Scaffolding, offered to loan us scaffolding which he will set up and remove (all OSHA approved) for us to paint the building inside and out. This is amazing and we are also very grateful to his investment in the community.  Click here for John's business information.
  • Jim Rafferty, our go-to volunteer on this project is managing all of this and at the same time treating the rusty nails in the siding in preparation for painting. We would not be able to coordinate this project without Jim's knowledge and experiences. He is a gem!
  • There is a Program team now meeting to plan our first opening event scheduled for November and the GRAND OPENING event that will occur when the exhibits are all in place. If you would like to join this planning team, please call Hope at 268-4770. She would LOVE to hear from you.
  • And, behind the scenes we have a cadre of folks doing extensive research for the exhibits - on the Sisters of St. Joseph, the one-room schoolhouses in south Duval County, the history of African American educators and education in Duval, oral history center development and more. It is amazing how much time and effort and digging it takes to pull the themes of this project together.



Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Days continue. Diver Paul Kramer explains how it was looking for artifacts in the dark, dark waters of the St. Johns. Check the schedule below for dates/times.

Yoga on the River resumes in August. What a perfect place to stretch and enjoy the beauty of our landmark river.

Sunday, August 23 at 9 AM on the Boardwalk. Don't miss it.
Check out these websites and visit some of our friends
around the First Coast 

August 2 - Music Under the Oaks 2-4
August 8 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
August 20 - Third Thursday Lecture - Mary Atwood, "Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast
August 22 - Yard Sale for the Schoolhouse 8-2
August 23 - Yoga on the River 9 am
August 23 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 12-4
September 6 - NO "Music Under the Oaks" - Labor Day weekend
September 26 - Smithsonian "Museum Day LIVE!" with Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day and all buildings open
October 4 - Music Under the Oaks 2-4
October 17 - "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day" - 12-4
October 25 - Yoga on the River 9 am
November 1 - Music Under the Oaks 2-4 and opening of the schoolhouse (no exhibits yet - watch for Grand Opening in 2016)
November 14 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
November 19 - Third Thursday Lecture - St. Johns River Alliance
November 22 - Yoga on the River 9 am
December 5 - 16th Annual Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Park, with Maple Leaf divers and lots of activities for the family to enjoy throughout the park
December 26 - Museum CLOSED

Mandarin Museum (11964 Mandarin Road) is open every Saturday (except Dec. 26) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park .

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road)  will be closed until we get the AC fixed and an Eagle Scout project of painting is completed in August.
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The developing fruit at the farmhouse tree  reminds us that there were once 600 orange trees on the Webb property - can you even imagine! 


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 

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