Duval County Eastside Historic District

A Long-Deserved Listing: Florida Neighborhood Surveyed by Chronicle Heritage Now in National Register of Historic Places

Jan 9, 2024

Chronicle Heritage, then operating as PaleoWest, completed a historical resource survey update and National Register nomination of Jacksonville, Florida’s Eastside neighborhood, a historically significant district last surveyed almost 30 years ago. This survey update enabled Eastside’s successful nomination to and listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Eastside was established after the Civil War and is one of Jacksonville’s oldest extant African American neighborhoods. From Reconstruction until the 1960s, it was a hub for political and civil rights activism, entrepreneurship, labor reform, and other causes, with ties to Zora Neale Hurston, A. Phillip Randolph, and other important figures of the era. Despite such significance, the neighborhood was in a state of decline by the 1970s.

Eastside was surveyed in 1993 as part of a larger initiative that did not return detailed data for the neighborhood, a factor that impeded comprehensive preservation. This newer survey, contracted to Chronicle Heritage by the nonprofit LIFT JAX, is part of a larger neighborhood revitalization initiative exemplifying “withintrification,” where changes typical of gentrification are led by the community instead of outside parties, with a focus on appropriate pacing to minimize drastic cost-of-living increases and citizen displacement. The project, which included survey along with community outreach, demonstrates how historic preservation can be used as a community planning tool and serves as a prime example of equitable preservation in action.

This new initiative included re-surveying all previously recorded historical resources and all extant pre-1980 structures omitted in the 1993 survey. The updated survey was conceptualized with four priorities: 

  • Nominating Eastside for the National Register of Historic Places
  • Creating a structured framework for ensuring Eastside’s cultural protection
  • Developing an inclusive historical context of Eastside linking it to the Gullah Geechee heritage and broader African American heritage at large
  • Honoring the unique nuances of well-researched African American history, including seeking oral/local histories and prioritizing community engagement

The Chronicle project team surveyed approximately 1,230 resources within a space of 0.65 square miles, consisting of approximately 890 previously recorded structures, both extant and demolished, and 340 unrecorded ones. Using the Chronicle Way, Chronicle’s proprietary data management method, our expert team was able to slash the estimated five days of fieldwork to just three and reduce survey costs by 50% compared to traditional survey fieldwork methods.

The area surveyed was mostly residential, but also featured a number of churches, Eastside’s Old City Cemetery, historic park, and Carolina Lumber Yard (Jacksonville’s oldest continually-operating lumber mill), all three of which were included in the 1993 survey and are now documented in greater detail. Extant structures encompassed a wide variety of styles, uses, and build dates, including Frame Vernacular and more ornate styles such as Folk Victorian, Arts & Crafts, and Prairie Style.

After concluding fieldwork, Chronicle Heritage finalized critical documentation concerning the historic district nomination process and recommended the neighborhood of Eastside as eligible for the NRHP. In keeping with the project focus on community engagement and outreach, Chronicle’s project team, who had previously met with the residents of Eastside, hosted a follow-up meeting where they presented the results of their work to local citizens. Chronicle ultimately prepared an NRHP nomination for the Eastside neighborhood. The nomination was accepted, and on July 3, 2023, the District was officially listed in the NRHP.

Chronicle Heritage is honored to have participated in this important project, and gives its thanks to LIFT JAX, its partners, members of the Eastside community, and all project stakeholders in ensuring its success.