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History of Jacksonville, FL: Springfield Park

This guide contains information and resources about Jacksonville, Florida. Resource selections include books, eBooks, databases, images, video, and websites about multiple topics relating to Jacksonville, Florida.

Springfield Park

Springfield Park, located at 956 Hubbard Street, opened in 1907 when the city purchased the 20 acres between Main and Liberty streets to connect the grounds of what was then known as Springfield Park (now Klutho Park) and the Waterworks to create a continuous greenway running along Hogan's Creek to the St. Johns River. Originally named Dignan Park after Peter Dignan, a City Council member and chairman of the Board of Public Works who became the center of an anti-Catholic backlash when he was appointed postmaster in 1914, the site was rebranded as Confederate Park five months after the United Confederate Veterans celebrated their 24th annual reunion there May 6-9, 1914. The event drew 8,000 veterans and a total of 70,000 visitors to the city.  It was not until August of 2020, after significant community outcry, that City Council finally voted to remove the reference to the Confederacy in the park's name.

Image Courtesy J. Grey, CC BY NC

Historic Photographs

Scene in Confederate Park

Scene in Confederate Park, Jacksonville, Fla. ca 1912

Jacksonville, Fla. : Duval News Co., [193-?]

Scene in Confederate Park, Jacksonville, Fla. ca 1912. Hand-colored postcard. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/332990>.

Scene in Dignan Park

Scene in Dignan Park, Jacksonville, Fla. Not after 1919. Hand-colored postcard. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/330270>.

Confederate Park in Jacksonville showing the Scottish Rite Temple

Confederate Park in Jacksonville showing the Scottish Rite Temple. 193-?. Hand-colored souvenir viewbook. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/274270>.

Confederate Park in 1946

Confederate Park, Jacksonville, Fla.

Confederate Park, Jacksonville, Fla. 1946. Hand-colored postcard. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/332949>.

Jacksonville, Fla. : Duval News Company, 1946.

Confederate Monument in Confederate Park in Jacksonville

Confederate Park was opened in 1907 as Dignan Park. The Confederate Monument honoring women of the Southland was dedicated in 1915.

Jacksonville, Fla. : Duval News Co., [193-?]

 

Confederate Monument at Confederate Park in Jacksonville. 193-?. Hand-colored souvenir viewbook. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/274271>.

Confederate Park, showing new Masonic Temple, Jacksonville, Florida

 

Confederate Park : Jacksonville, Florida. 192-. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/4611>.

Bird's eye view of Confederate Park

Bird's eye view of Confederate Park, Jacksonville, Fla.

 Jacksonville, Fla. : H. and W. B. Drew Co. , [Not after 1922]

Bird's eye view of Confederate Park- Jacksonville, Florida. Not after 1922. Color postcard. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/159083>.
 

 

Rose arbor at Confederate Park

Rose arbor at Confederate Park, 1934 (Public Domain)  Photographer/Personal Author: Spottswood, Jack(John Gordon), d. ca. 1950.

Additional Corporate Creator: Spottswood Studio.

Joe the Alligator

     Big Joe in Jacksonville, ca 1900. Image Courtesy State Archives of Florida.

For years, a ten-foot alligator named Joe made his home in Jacksonville, moving from his initial home at the Waterworks, to Dignan Park in 1913, to Hemming Park, before finally settling in the Jacksonville Zoo in 1915. Read more about Joe's life and travels (and whether there was more than one Joe) in this Call Box response from November 4, 2018's Florida Times-Union. You will need to log in to see this content.

The Public Park System in Jacksonville

Confederate Park is just one of the many parks in within Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation Department. According to their website, the City of Jacksonville maintains "over 300 public and recreational spaces."   Visit the CIty of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department website for searchable maps and lists of all public parks in the City.

Robert Burns

Image Courtesy J. Grey, CC BY NC

A sculpture of Robert Burns, also resides in Confederate Park. Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and songwriter (1759-1796).  According to the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the bust, by an unknown sculptor, was dedicated on August 27, 1930, by the Robert Burns Association. The limestone bust sits atop a concrete shaft.  The shaft contains a thistle emblem to signify Burns' Scottish heritage.  

Image Courtesy J. Grey, CC BY NC

Robert Burns, head and shoulders, facing left, 1819. Image Courtesy Library of Congress.

1914 Confederate Veterans Convention

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Film was produced with titles and shows meeting of 40,000 Confederate war veterans in Jacksonville.  Repository: State Library and Archives of Florida, 500 S. Bronough St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250 USA. Contact: 850.245.6700. Archives@dos.state.fl.us Persistent URL: http://www.floridamemory.com/items/sh...

The Lost Cause

Veteran Confederate soldier with child and flagThe Lost Cause of the Confederacy is a concept that presents the American Civil War (1861–1865) as an honorable struggle in which the South fought heroically for the purpose of states' rights and Southern culture. Most modern historians discount  the Lost Cause as an attempt to downplay the role of slavery as a root cause of the war.

Read a brief overview of the "Lost Cause" concept here. (You must be logged into your library account to access this content.)

Image: "Civil War veteran Thomas Benjamin Amiss in U.C.V. uniform with medals holding young girl with Confederate flag," from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Florida's Tribute to the Women of the Confederacy

On October 26, 1915, a new monument entitled, Florida's Tribute to the Women of the Confederacy (a.k.a. Monument to the Women of the Confederacy) was added to Confederate Park. The monument cost twenty five thousand dollars and was commissioned by the Florida Division of the United Confederate Veterans. The Florida legislature contributed roughly half of the cost. The bronze sculpture was created by Allen George Newman (1874-1940).  McNeel Marble Works was the contractor and Jno. Williams, Inc. was the founderThe Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum describes the monument as a large structure with a standing female on the roof, and a seated female inside.

 

The plaque at the base of the seated figure reads as follows:

IN MEMORY OF THE/WOMEN OF OUR SOUTHLAND/1861 - 1865/LET THIS MUTE BUT ELOQUENT/STRUCTURE SPEAK TO GENERATIONS/TO COME, OF A GENERATION OF/THE PAST. LET IT REPEAT/PERPETUALLY THE IMPERISHABLE/STORY OF OUR WOMEN OF THE 60'S./THOSE NOBLE WOMEN WHO/SACRIFICED THEIR ALL/UPON THEIR COUNTRY'S ALTAR./UNTO THEIR MEMORY THE FLORIDA DIVISION/OF UNITED CONFEDERATE VETERANS/AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATE THIS MONUMENT.

Controversy over Confederate Monuments

Over the last few years, and particularly since the deadly 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA, there has been an increasing amount of discussion over the appropriateness of monuments to the Confederacy on public lands, colleges, and universities. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are calling for the removal of these monuments, or for the addition of contextual signage.  While a 2017 Reuters poll shows that a majority of Americans want confederate monuments to remain, a new poll by Winthrop University shows that a majority of Southern state residents want to do something about the monuments—move, remove, or add new signage.  Here in Jacksonville, community groups including TakeEmDownJax recently offered a "History Revealed" walking tour of Jacksonville's racial past.  Their goal was to raise awareness of the issue and gain support for removal of local monuments. The President of the Jacksonville City Council also called for the removal of the monuments from city property. In March, 2019, community activists called for an economic boycott of the City until the monuments are removed.  According to a 2017 Florida Times Union article, Jacksonville residents are divided on the issue with approximately 53% of voters opposing removal and 38% in favor. The controversy is likely to continue.