Abandoned (and potentially haunted) buildings around Jax

This article originally ran in March 2017.
Photos by Bullet

Like any big city, Jacksonville has its share of abandoned creepy buildings. And while these dwellings sit eerily vacant year round, the curious can’t help but want to peek inside in the weeks surrounding Halloween. To those looking to enter the graffiti filled ruins, consider their story, such as building that once was Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home. In 1851, Vermont businessman Calvin Oak was told he had tuberculosis and six months to live. Undeterred, he moved to Jacksonville where the more agreeable climate may have had a hand in keeping Oak around for another 30 years. Apparently not a superstitious man, he and his son Byron went into the mortuary business in 1856.

After Calvin’s death, the business grew into Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home, and architecture firm Mark & Sheftall was commissioned to build a two-story Prairie School-style structure (picture here) on Union Street. Construction was completed in 1914.

The business changed hands a few times but eventually became part of Peeples Family Funeral Home in Riverview. Peeples closed the Union Street location in 2013, a few months shy of a century of continuous operation. Leaving the building to fall into disrepair—and perhaps 99 happy haunts, and room for one more.

Most people have noticed the abandoned elementary school which sits frightfully close to where an elevated section of I-95 connects to I-10. Its pediment is emblazoned with “Public School Number Four,” but the school was named Annie Lytle Elementary School after a longtime teacher.

The building was constructed on the site of a small wooden schoolhouse built in 1891. It was closed in 1960—the proximity of the aforementioned interstates isolated it from the neighborhood—but it was used as school system administration offices for more than a decade.

Today, the building’s regal columns belie the decay inside. Graffiti covers what’s left of the walls and a fire in 1995 caused the auditorium’s roof to cave in. In 2000, the building received historic landmark designation, halting demolition plans.

The Claude Nolan Cadillac Building on North Main St. is one of the only Urban Core structures designed by famed architect Henry J. Klutho to remain standing today. Its original Prairie-style design and large plate glass windows are but a faint memory, as it was remodeled in 1948, completely obscuring the original façade. The cornice and canopy were removed, and the delicate bricks were covered with art deco-style marble paneling. Today the windows are boarded up, but the grand interior has, for the most part, survived.

Claude Nolan, who founded the Cadillac dealership—the first such business in Jacksonville—in 1907, was one of the city’s best-known innovators. He’s credited with originating the idea of selling cars on installments in 1910, a practice that was soon adopted by the entire automotive industry. Nolan died in 1943, but his family continued to operate the business here until 1985, when the decline of Downtown began to take a toll on sales. The dealership was moved to Southside Blvd., where it remains in business today.

Three brothers founded the Jones Furniture Company in 1902 following the construction boom that came after the Great Fire of 1901. W.G. and Michael K. Jones employed their younger brother R.L. Jones in the store for a time, but by 1910 R.L. had started a rival company—Standard Furniture. In 1926, he developed this building on Hogan St., one story taller than his brothers’ six-story building on Main. Standard’s building was designed by architect Jefferson D. Powell and features Mediterranean Revival detailing, prism glass above the street level entrance and a wrought-iron staircase.

Eventually, R.L. Jones’ sons purchased Jones Furniture Company and merged the two together, keeping the Jones Brothers name and operating out of this building. In 2005, the empty and neglected structure was slated to be renovated into an office complex, but that has not come to fruition.

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