The Jacksonville Historical Society’s plan to convert the former Florida Casket Co. building into a music museum, performance venue, and archive made a groundbreaking move.
The Downtown Development Review Board voted 8-1 on June 9 to approve the project design.
The society commissioned Lane Architecture to design the venue in the 15,200-square-foot building built in 1882 at 318 Palmetto St. near the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Thompson Construction Co. is listed as the contractor and Powell & Hinkle Engineering is the engineer for what Alan Bliss, CEO of the Jacksonville Historical Society, said June 9 will be a $3 million project.
Board Chairman Trevor Lee and several other members agreed that the design “requires a lot of work”.
Lee said he didn’t want to hold up the project by voting against conceptual approval, but the board disagreed with architect Michael Blake that the two stucco additions wouldn’t detract from the historic look of the former coffin factory.
Lee said the planned additions would “detract from what was a relatively nice old brick building.”
Board member and architect Craig Davisson was the only no vote.
The plans show two additions on each side of the three-story structure, which the designers said would bring building access to the code.
As a prerequisite for approval, the Executive Board has commissioned the designer to bring color reproductions and material samples of the supplements to the final approval meeting.
The board also suggested that the architect work with DDRB employees and the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission to find a way to uncover the first-story brick-covered windows.
The project will pay tribute to Jacksonville’s musical history and its place in the roots of southern rock and its contributions to other genres.
Bliss said building construction and code improvements will consume approximately $1.7 million of the project budget, with the remaining $1.3 million going to exhibits, facilities, and interior improvements.
The nonprofit CEO said the development team is watching construction costs increase but has raised $700,000 for the project.
According to Bliss, the historical society’s planned second-floor archive room will be named after Preston Haskell, founder of Jacksonville-based global architecture, engineering and construction firm Haskell.
Preston Haskell pledged $400,000 for the museum’s venue in November 2021.
The former coffin factory is adjacent to the former St. Luke’s Hospital, which now houses the offices of the Jacksonville Historical Society.
When the project was announced in June 2020, Bliss said in a press release that he believes interest in the museum will be great and finding artifacts should not pose a challenge given Jacksonville’s ties to Southern rock ‘n’ roll.
“The roots of what we know today through the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers rest on the shoulders of blues and jazz genre giants in Jacksonville’s African American community,” Bliss said in a publication.
The board’s review says final approval will depend heavily on analysis by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission.
Bliss said the project was in the city’s approval phase as of June 9 and he expects the commission to review the proposed remodeling soon.
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