Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville is about 45 miles north of where we are parked. In contrast to the towns in Georgia, which we have toured, Jacksonville does not have the old town charm. It was burned and abandoned several times during the Civil War. Yellow Fever killed many of its citizens in the late 1880s and forced many more to flee. In 1901 the town sustained a major fire which destroyed nearly the entire downtown area. We drove into the city yesterday to visit a cousin of mine and her husband, Sandra and Peter Ryan. We were not meeting them until later in the day so we took some time to visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Arthur Cummer was a wealthy lumber baron at the turn of the twentieth century. At that time he and his wife owned most of Florida. Below is a picture of the sculpture which sits at the entrance of the museum.
The art museum offers world-class art spanning from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century. Of  particular interest is a collection of early 18th-century Meissen porcelain tableware. After John and I had seen about half of the museum we took a break and stepped outside to walk through the English garden, which had been built on the estate of the Cummers. Jacksonville lies in a great double-loop of the St.Johns River, and the gardens extend from the museum to the river.
 The gardens are small but it was amazing to us how much natural beauty was designed into that setting. Pictured below is a garden folly, a " folly" is a barrel-tile roofed cottage constructed only for decoration.
 After touring the museum we walked over to the Jacksonville Arts Festival, which was located under one of the bridge overpasses of the city. It is quite a unique spot to enjoy food, shopping, and musical entertainment while looking out over the St.Johns River. Once we stopped there the rest of our afternoon passed quickly.

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