Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

House on the Move Once More School Reacquires It for Admissions Office

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

House on the Move Once More School Reacquires It for Admissions Office

Article excerpt

At 106, the Queen Victoria is beginning life anew.

The quaint house at 717 Post St. goes on the move again this summer, in preparation for its conversion into an admissions office for Riverside Presbyterian Day School.

The move will bring the house full circle. It was once owned by Riverside Presbyterian Church, which gave it to preservationist Helen Lane, who has now donated it to the church's day school.

It will be the second move for the Queen Victoria, which was built on Oak Street in 1893 and served as a private home for 75 years. In 1969, it was moved to its present location, where it has housed a succession of popular eating establishments. The latest, A Tasteful Cafe, closed in December when its lease ran out.

The house, with its distinctive tower, decorative gables and profuse wooden gingerbread trim, is the finest remaining example of the Queen Anne style in Riverside, according to Wayne Wood in his book Architectural History of Jacksonville.

It will be the centerpiece of Riverside Presbyterian's campus, said Lane Dawkins, the school's director of development.

"This is perfect timing," Dawkins said. "We celebrated our 50th anniversary last year. We are one of the oldest private elementary schools in the city. I think it will give the campus a unique identity because of the historic value of the house."

The house was built for the family of Ernest Ricker, a dealer in wines, liquors, coffee and cigars. The family lived there until December 1967 when the house was bought by Riverside Presbyterian Church.

Two years later, the church needed the land for additional buildings and in lieu of demolishing the house offered it to Lane. 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. She went to Europe and 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.

Now, the bright yellow house with the black shutters will be jacked up in several months and moved from its high-visibility spot.

It will be transported less than a block away to a resting spot next to the former First Guaranty Bank at Oak and Fitch streets. …

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