Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Items Found in Old Bostwick Building Offer a Look at 'Families, Businesses That Helped to Build This Great City'; UNCOVERING HISTORY

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Items Found in Old Bostwick Building Offer a Look at 'Families, Businesses That Helped to Build This Great City'; UNCOVERING HISTORY

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel

In 2014, Jacques Klempf paid $165,000 for the old Bostwick Building downtown and everything inside the crumbling, Jaguars-themed structure.

On Thursday morning, Klempf - who's turning the building into the high-end Cowford Chophouse restaurant - unveiled part of the "everything" that came with it: thousands of items, some 100 or more years old, that had been left behind in two bank vaults and in the building's old offices.

He donated them to the Museum of Science and History, where they're in the third-floor collections room. Museum curator Alyssa Porter said they've barely had a chance to go through the items; it could take volunteers and staff five or more years to really know what they have.

Workers pried off the back of safe deposit boxes in the old bank vault to get at what was inside. There were no spectacular finds (Klempf was rather hoping they might find some exotic treasure locked away in that vault). But there were rings, pocket watches, pins, coins, silver spoons and bracelets, plus a 1911 souvenir medal for the coronation of Queen Mary.

Mostly, though, there were papers, thousands and thousands of papers. Deeds, copies of birth certificates, correspondence, ledger books, financial transactions, etc. - the stuff that made up a big chunk of the lives of the people who owned them in the decades after the Great Fire of 1901.

The Bostwick Building, at Bay and Ocean streets downtown, was built on the site of a bank that was destroyed in the fire, though the blaze left its vault intact. The new building went up around the vault. It too became a bank, then another bank, then an office building.

From 1944 to 1960, it included the office of architect Henry John Klutho, who had designed some of the city's signature post-fire buildings, including the St. James Building, now City Hall. A huge drafting desk - covered in pigeon droppings - was found in that office, but it's too soon to tell if it was Klutho's, Porter said. Blueprints were also rescued, though they're in a delicate state and haven't really been examined yet.

Unearthing the material required some effort: To get to the materials in that second-floor office, Klempf and his daughter Alexandria wore hard hats and harnesses and watched out for holes in the floor. …

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