Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's First Historical Museum Set for Fall Opening; Walter Jones Historical Park Sits on 10 Acres

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's First Historical Museum Set for Fall Opening; Walter Jones Historical Park Sits on 10 Acres

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Staff writer

Right now it's just a bare wood-walled building behind signs that warn "No Trespassing," and concrete blocks that serve as steps.

But by mid-fall, the tin-roofed dtructure at the tree-shaded entrance to the Walter Jones Historical Park at 11964 Mandarin Road will become the city's first historical museum, displaying the community's history. It will also be the permanent home of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society and its archives.

Walking around the 60 percent-completed, 3,300-square-foot Mandarin Museum on Tuesday, society President Karen Roumillat said members were "very excited" about having a "one-of-a-kind museum" in Mandarin.

"It feels wonderful, like a dream come true. I am very excited about the educational opportunities we can provide here," she said. "Our goal is to have the building and all of our treasures as accessible as we can to the public."

City Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Pam Wilson said the museum, due to be done in September, will be part of a fruitful partnership.

"We are excited about partnering with the society, and the construction of the museum will allow us to move that forward and reach more people with educational possibilities," she said.

Ground was broken for the $339,000 city museum and classroom facility at the 10-acre city historic park Feb. 15. Retired U.S. Army major William Webb started the farm in 1876. Its four-room home and barn with oranges and strawberry fields was bought by Walter Jones, Mandarin's postmaster, a few years later. Jones expanded the home, while a son-in-law added a small house at Mandarin and County Dock roads in 1939.

The city bought the property from the family in 1993. The farmhouse and barn were restored and a riverfront boardwalk, nature trail and picnic facilities added in 2000, while the home's interior was restored and opened for public tours Aug. 17. The 1939 house was moved to the County Dock Road side of the park for a security officer, while the museum growing in its place will look like a Florida Cracker-style house with two big porches. …

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