Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Yellow House a Storied Structure

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Yellow House a Storied Structure

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

Dear Call Box: I'm intrigued by the yellow Victorian house on the grounds of Riverside Presbyterian Day School. I believe it used to be a restaurant. What can you tell me about its history?

J.K., Jacksonville

Dear J.K.: The eye-catching Queen Victoria has led a variety of lives during its 123 years.

It was built on Oak Street around 1893 for Ernest Ricker, a dealer in wines, liquors, coffee and cigars. The house's matriarch, Catherine Ricker, died in the formal living room on Christmas Day 1967, a few weeks after turning 100.

Riverside Presbyterian Church bought the house but two years later needed the land for additional buildings and offered it to preservationist Helen Lane in lieu of demolition.

The only problem was Lane was going to Europe in a month and didn't have a place to put it. Finally, she found a 50-foot lot around the corner on Post between Riverside Avenue and Five Points. While she was in Paris, her mother, Helen Murchison, and other relatives oversaw the move.

Lane still chuckles at the overseas telegram she received from her mother: "I do hope I got it in the right place, dear."

She did, indeed, and Lane set to work restoring the Queen Victoria. When she was finished, five shops moved in - a tea room and The Shop for Pappagallo on the first floor, an antique store and beauty salon on the second and artist Christine Schmidt in the tower.

In December 1985, a restaurant named the Creole Queen leased the house for eight years. In 1994, Bowyer's Restaurant took it over. In 1996, Beverly Fahey opened A Tasteful Cafe, known for its spaghetti pie, chicken quesadilla, creole dishes, cheese bread and Mississippi mud pie.

When the cafe's lease ran out in December 1998, Lane donated the Queen Victoria to Riverside Presbyterian Day School. In 1999, it was jacked up, went on the road again and moved from its high-visibility spot. The day before its move, it had to be turned 90 degrees, so that it faced Oak. …

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