MMHS NEWS - October 2016
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

What a whirlwind month September was, mostly due to the popularity of the Mandarin Frogs and the Losco Winery Dedication.
To start the month, the Mandarin Newsline ran our story about the Frog Man on the front page. Following shortly after was Mark Woods entering Mandarin on his "Mark Walks Jax" adventure which is featured in his column in in the Florida Times-Union. Next was Dan Scanlan's article in the T-U about the Losco Winery. And lastly, Crystal Moyer of Channel 4 WJXT came out to interview the Frog Man - her TV piece ran 5-6 times!

We can't begin to explain how valuable all this press coverage is to us at MMHS. Each one certainly raises awareness about what we do and why our mission is so important. We just could not accomplish this kind of exposure ourselves. They also helped us gain monetary rewards in support of our programs through the increased interest in and sales of "the frogs!"

Our gratitude is great to all of these reporters and local news outlets for taking an interest in the activities of Mandarin Museum & Historical Society.

Thanks to Mark Wood for his extensive time in Mandarin.

The "Frog Man"

This whole Mandarin Frog phenomenon is an amazing story. Probably you have already  read or heard a lot about it.

But we at MMHS want to publicly thank this super generous man for adopting us. We are the only place that these frogs are available for purchase and that is because the Frog Man has decided to give back to the community that has been his home for a lifetime, by helping MMHS raise funds in support of our mission and programs. The proceeds of the frog sales are being directed to a special fund for museum expansion and also to general operating needs.

Seen here on Smithsonian Day - he made and painted 85 frogs for this special day. We sold 72! We had no specified fundraiser this year, and yet, the sale of these frogs has been a huge fundraiser for us - with $1500. in sales just on this one day.

To have 85 frogs for us to sell, this man had to purchase all of the materials (cement, mold, paint, price tags), mold the frogs in the two molds that he has, paint each one with a totally unique appearance, bring them to the museum, and display them. The hours it takes to do this greatly  surpass 40 hours a week. Plus, by being at the museum on Saturdays, he is our very best salesperson.

And for all of this work he takes no monetary reward or personal recognition. Every penny of every sale comes to the museum. His reward is the happiness he feels when he meets people and they tell him that they love his creations and want to buy one for their own yards. And, the satisfaction he gets from helping an organization that he wants to keep telling the stories of Mandarin, his home.

There are no words to explain how grateful we are that this special "Frog Man."

Dedication of Losco Winery

On September 24, the Losco Winery at Walter Jones Historical Park was officially dedicated.  
Seen above are all of the members of the Losco family who were in attendance. It was a reunion of sorts as many folks live out of town.

This historic structure is of great interest to visitors as they stroll through the park. After all, you don't see log cabins like this one very often any more. Unfortunately, even though this type building was very prevalent during the late 1800s and early 1900s, they have mostly fallen to disrepair or been destroyed. 

Mandarin is very fortunate that one of these jewels was saved and is available for public viewing. This particular one is very special because it once housed the winery of the Losco family of Losco Road. The winery was started by Francis (Frank) Losco and it produced around 40 barrels of wine a year for decades, starting in the late 19th century.

It was a long road to this dedication day. When the family property was sold in 2006, David Losco contacted MMHS about the building. Bo Phillips, a Board member, took on (with the help of his wife Pat and son Kirk) the giant job of disassembling, moving and reassembling the building in the park. This was completed and then another volunteer transformed it into a winery exhibit which included the original grape press and bottle labels. This year, due to the generous gifts from friends and family in memory of volunteer Don Yocom, an interpretive sign was made and placed in front of the building. And finally, on September 24, the dedication took place.

The speakers this day were: Sandy Arpen, President of MMHS, David Losco on behalf of the Losco family, Bo Phillips  and volunteer Paul Ghiotto. Paul surprised the family with a gift - the letters and story of their relative Marion Joseph Losco, Frank's son. Marion was drafted into service in World War I and was killed in action in France in 1918. MMHS is planning a special exhibit and book about Marion in 2018, to commemorate the end of WWI - 100 years ago.

Refreshments were served by board member Hope Ferrigno and the Program Committee and everyone enjoyed a tour of the exhibit and the beautiful painting that was done by Gary Garrett just days before the event.

It was a wonderful day!

Sadly,  Louis Losco, passed away at the age of 82 on September 23. He was the son of Gerald, who was one of the sons of Frank and Domatilla Losco.

Painting by Gary Garrett 

Sandy Arpen 

Paul Ghiotto 

David Losco 

Bo and Pat Philips 

Carl Davis
Celebration of Life

Carl and Inge Davis at a MMHS event in 1998

Carl Davis, was one of the founders of MMHS. In the late 1980s Carl and others shared a vision to have a museum in Mandarin. Those who shared that vision worked hard and overcame many obstacles to make it a reality. Carl was President of the organization for several years and worked especially hard on making possible the partnership that exists between MMHS and the Mandarin Community Club in relation to the historic Store and Post Office. As the restoration of the old building developed into a museum, Carl spent many an hour developing business relationships and grants  that made it possible, as well as giving lots of hands-on labor. All of this work done by Carl and his team resulted in a beautiful building that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Carl was the right man at the right time for a museum in Mandarin. He had the support of a strong, dedicated and amazing group of board members that all worked together on a common goal. The simple fact is - we have a Mandarin Museum & Historical Society because Carl and others believed that Mandarin had a fascinating historical heritage and it needed to be shared.  All of us are forever grateful to him and and to these other leadership giants for this very special gift to the community.

Carl's "Celebration of Life" service will be held at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, 12236 Mandarin Road on Friday, October 7 at 2 pm.

Why I Love Mandarin

This month, we introduce long-time Board member Susan Ford. Susan was one of the founding members of MMHS, served as President for several years and was the person who first worked with and organized the collection of objects and artifacts given to the museum. As a matter of fact, the room at the museum that houses our collection is called the Susan Ford Archive Room. She is seen here in the Mandarin Cemetery, holding Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Palmetto Leaves." This is Susan's story:

"When I moved to Mandarin over 30 years ago, I never imagined how much history there was in the area. Frankly, I always considered history to be dry and boring in high school and college. Moving to Mandarin and hearing about Harriet Beecher Stowe living here planted a seed in me. Also, learning about the sinking of the Union ship Maple Leaf made me excited to learn more. I saw history disappearing and it became my deep desire to collect everything which had to do with Mandarin's past. Even before the establishment of the museum I spent my days collecting and preserving as much as I could concerning Mandarin.

Growing up as a Midwesterner from Northbrook, Illinois, little did I know my parents wanted to move away from the snow and ice and retire in Florida. As I was an only child, I knew they wanted to be near me as I attended college in Lakeland, Florida, and they had a secret plan that I would meet a "Florida Man", get married and live near them. The plan worked, as I married a boy I met at Florida Southern. I graduated with degrees in Psychology and English. We had two boys and my life was full of T-ball, helping with schoolwork and teaching children to swim.

Following a divorce and remarriage to my husband Todd, we found Mandarin and built our house in 1984. This is when I fell in love with the rich history here and immersed myself in it. My love of gardening led me to become a Master Gardener and joining the Mandarin Garden Club. Through our involvement at the Church of Our Saviour, I met Jean Morrow, who was born and raised in Mandarin. She was so full of knowledge and memories that she was called "Mandarin's Historian." Because of her passion and friendship, my desire became even stronger to learn about this very special place.

The establishment of the Mandarin Museum began with just a handful of people - more like a family. Before the museum was built we were fortunate to be able to rent and restore a small room at the Mandarin Community Club (it used to be the Kate Monson Baby Clinic). We also completely restored the Walter Jones Post Office and General Store, which MMHS leases from the Community Club.

I just assumed we would someday have a small museum - never imagined what would follow. The 11 acres of the Webb/Jones farm was purchased by the City of Jacksonville. Our small group approached the city about having our museum on this special property - so full of the history of two families. It was soon decided that the city would build a cracker-style building to be the home of the Mandarin Museum. So we finally had a place to preserve and store all of our history. That was over 10 years ago.

We finally had a place to display our collection related to the Maple Leaf, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlie Brown, Memphis Wood, Timuquan pottery and much more. We had put together what was almost a dream. And today, we still have a committed Board of Directors and many volunteers and I couldn't be more proud of everyone!"

Susan Ford

Photographer Olis Garber gave us the gift of professional portraits of our board members for us to use to promote the work of the museum. We are grateful for the many hours he and his wife Jo spent on this project, and for  the wonderful photos he has given us. Check out his business at 

First Coast Plein Aire Painters

Randy Pitts painting a beautiful painting of  the barn.

On the weekend of Sept. 16-18, this fine group of local artists came to Walter Jones Park for a three-day workshop with a world-class plein aire artist and instructor. The  18 artists received group and individual instruction while painting many scenes at the park. They are always so interesting to see. Watch for them at Winter Celebration.

Mandarin artist Gary Garrett organized the event. He painted the Losco Winery during the weekend and gifted it to us in honor of the dedication of the building.

Orange Grove in Walter Jones Park

The Orange Grove memorial sign is back up in the grove next to the schoolhouse. It had to be removed during the construction work, but was never put back.
Our apologies for the delay to anyone who has a loved one's name on this plaque. And thanks to volunteer Jim Rafferty for putting it back in the grove.

Last Spring we received two new satsuma trees, thanks to the generosity of the young men and women of the Bolles Environmental Club, who raised funds through donut sales and Friday "Jeans Days."

Pay a visit sometime. The oranges and satsumas are growing nicely.
Father O'Reilly House
MMHS has a keen interest in anything related to the Sisters of St. Joseph, due to our St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children. This year is the 150th Anniversary of the Sisters coming to north Florida in 1866 to teach in post Civil War Florida.

Did you know that there is a special museum in St. Augustine that tells the history of the building, the oldest building in St. Augustine? It also houses a wonderful collection of artifacts that tell the story of the Catholic Church in St. Augustine, as well as the  story of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

This gem is located in the oldest part of town, next to the Sisters' Motherhouse, at 32 Aviles St. Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 to 3. For more information check the website
Sister Thomas Joseph McGoldrick, author of the book "Beyond the Call - The Legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, Florida"  manages the museum and is often there to greet visitors. Her book was the foundation for the research we did about the 1898 schoolhouse. Please pay a visit to this special museum and if you see her, thank her for her support and assistance with the schoolhouse project. 

Sister Thomas Joseph at the Grand Opening of the schoolhouse in April. 
Don't forget our regularly scheduled activities in October

"Music Under the Oaks"

A community jam  - all are invited to play, listen, paint, or dance. Bring a chair and water. The museum and schoolhouse will be open for viewing and restrooms. Held at Walter Jones Park.

Sunday, October 2
from 2-4

"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"

Meet Dr. Keith Holland and SJAEI divers who brought up the Civil War artifacts from the muddy St. Johns River bottom. Artifacts not seen here before are now on display.

Saturday, October 15 from noon - 4 at Mandarin Museum

October 1 - Store and Post Office open 12-4; Museum and Schoolhouse open 9-4
October 2 - Under the Oaks music jam 2-4
October 15 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
November 17 - Third Thursday Lecture - Emily Lisska
November - NO Meet the Divers this month
December 3 - Winter Celebration, including Dec. music jam and Meet the Divers, all-in-one- 11-4
January  23, 2017 Special Fundraiser nite at Julington Creek Fish Camp 

Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children are open every Saturday (except Dec. 24 and Dec. 31) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road)

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open the 1st Saturday of every month from 12-4 (except December 3). 


We NEED LOTS of volunteers for the biggest event of the year - the 17th Annual Winter Celebration. Call Paula Suhey today at 403-5024 or and she will fill you in on all the needs of the day.

You'll be glad you did - we have great fun at MMHS! 

Many thanks to Bowden Pump & Well for donating this old pump for the farmhouse kitchen well. It is a beauty! 


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 

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