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Then and Now – The Transformation of The John Gorrie a condominium

November 12th, 2013 · 1 Comment

It wasn’t long ago – less than two decades, in fact – that hundreds of students were receiving an education at John Gorrie Junior High School in the Riverside neighborhood. Named after famous Floridian Dr. John Gorrie, the inventor of air conditioning and the first ice machine, the John Gorrie school opened its doors in 1923 and permanently closed them to students in 1997.

“What is going to happen to these two beautiful former school buildings?” was the question that Delores Barr Weaver asked her husband Wayne as they walked by the buildings on their strolls around the Riverside/Avondale neighborhood.

Fast forward several years to when the school buildings were put up for auction by the school board:

“We heard they were going to be for sale, and we decided to put a bid on them,” said Barr Weaver. “It truly seemed like it was destined for us to undertake this renovation when the highest bidder backed out and the buildings became ours.”

In 2011, after a painstaking historic renovation and modernization of the buildings to bring them up to code, The John Gorrie a condominium welcomed its first residents. The John Gorrie has already sold 24 of its 68 homes, which start in the low $100,000s. Buyers particularly love the unique elements of the residences and common spaces that reflect the buildings’ former use as a school. Those include some original floors, exposed brick walls in several of the homes. In addition, original chalkboards, radiators, doors and windows adorn the common hallways as art. The former teacher’s mail cubby is located in the main hallway. There is an original private courtyard that has been restored to serve as a tranquil outdoor gathering space for residents, and the principal’s office was turned into a quiet reading room. Every effort was made during the renovation to preserve as much of the building’s original architecture and features as possible.

Barr Weaver was recently awarded a prestigious Urban Land Institute North Florida award in the Reuse/Repurpose category for The John Gorrie, which to date is the largest renovation of its kind to be undertaken in Northeast Florida. The project has also won awards from Riverside Avondale Preservation, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission and the Florida Home Builder’s Association.

It is not uncommon to see residents of The John Gorrie out and about the neighborhood on a daily basis. They say one of the best things is being able to walk or bike to nearby shops, restaurants and offices. The convenience of The John Gorrie, which sits at the corner of Stockton and College streets in the heart of the Riverside Historic District, is one of its best selling points.

For more information about how you can be part of The John Gorrie community, call (904) 383-3688 or visit www.TheJohnGorrie.com.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Jackson // May 3, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    I was glad to be a part of restoring a bit of the building in 2011, just before completion. I went to school there in 1967-1969, and then on to Robert E Lee High. My sister also went there, and during the construction work I was allowed to get a piece of a brick that had been removed during construction, a nice souvenir. Thanks, Delores, for saving this old landmark from my youth.

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