For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Contact: Sarah Revell
Secretary Detzner Announces the Designation of Memorial Park on the National Register of Historic Places
TALLAHASSEE, FLA –
Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today that Memorial Park in Jacksonville has been listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
“The park was the product of Jacksonville citizens who banded together soon after the end of the First World War to honor Floridians who died during the war, and it is the only statewide World War I memorial,” said Secretary Detzner. “It is also a significant example of park design, anchored by a large sculpture created by noted artist Charles Adrian Pillars.”
Jacksonville’s Memorial Park opened in 1924. Located in the Riverside-Avondale neighborhood, it was designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. Planning and fundraising for the park began the day after the November 11, 1918, armistice that ended the Great War. The Jacksonville Rotary Club, along with other civic organizations and noted citizens such as Nina Cummer, headed the effort to design and build the park. The park’s design of a riverside promenade and grassy oval lawn framed by trees focuses the visitor’s attention on the large bronze sculpture, Spiritualized Life, by Charles Adrian Pillars, who also sculpted both of Florida’s statues in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The sculpture of a winged youth holding an olive branch above a swirling globe represents man’s triumphant struggle for peace in a world engulfed by chaos.
The United States entered the Great War in April 1917, nearly three years after the start of the war, which had already claimed millions of lives on both sides. President Woodrow Wilson requested a declaration of war against Germany in response to attacks on American shipping in the Atlantic, violating U.S. neutrality, and after the revelation of secret German offers of American territory to Mexico in exchange for an alliance in the war. American troops played a significant role on the western front in France, where they reinforced the British and French armies following the German Spring Offensive of 1918 and then played a key role in the final successful Allied drive of the war, the Hundred Days, which led to Germany’s call for an armistice in November 1918. About two million Americans served in France, of which over 53,000 fell in combat. Memorial Park commemorates the 1,220 Floridians who died in the conflict.
Spiritualized Life, Charles Adrian Pillars, Memorial Park, Jacksonville
In continuous use since 1924, Memorial Park is the only statewide memorial to Florida’s World War I dead. While the park has undergone cycles of neglect and renewal, it has fundamentally changed little over time. Current challenges, including flooding caused by Hurricane Irma, have refocused attention on the park. However, efforts are underway to repair the damage by Irma’s waves and to restore the park’s appearance so that it can continue to honor those who fell in France 100 years ago.
About The National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical or archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 292 historic districts and 174 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.
About The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation
The Bureau of Historic Preservation conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state's historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.