By Brett Nolan
It is regrettable to announce that Jubilee Hall, previously featured in the “Back in Time” column in Mandarin NewsLine in July 2018, has met her match as the teeth of an excavator masticated the century-old structure last month. Built in the fall of 1887, the home stood for nearly 70 million minutes to see its grave in a matter of 10. Charles Frederick Winton employed renowned Mandarin builder William Monson to erect the home for him and his family. The home featured a decorative two-tiered veranda, giving rise to its quick popularity as a prominent meeting place for many Mandarin folk and their families. Over the years, Jubilee Hall saw many hardships and growth alike, as the little village of Mandarin continued on into the 20th Century.
As local supplier and organizer to the overseas shipping business of fruits, vegetables, roots and herbs, Winton suffered alongside the many orange groves of Mandarin in the harrowing loss of trees due to a cycle of harsh freezes during the late 1800s. In 1888, all entry from Jacksonville to Mandarin ceased as the yellow fever epidemic plagued the city; men patrolled the area from Julington Creek to Goodby’s Lake with not a single case reaching Mandarin.
By May 1901, Mandarin opened her homes to refugees from Jacksonville after the Great Fire ravaged the metropolis. Arriving on the steamboat “May Garner,” packed to capacity, the displaced were avidly welcomed by residents. One can assume Winton opened his doors to his wide veranda to shelter those in need over the days after the conflagration.
Nationally, the home saw 132 years of life’s peaks and valleys — 12 states admitted to our Union, 23 Presidents serving in office, two presidential assassinations, two world wars, and the first man on the moon — over the period of three different centuries.
So, what do we do now? Continue on with life. This is just a harsh reminder that nothing in this world is permanent. Time moves forward and old buildings will be demolished to make way for new ones. What’s important is that we keep their memories alive. The Wintons were prominent members of the community and contributed much to the early life of Mandarin. They went to church at the Church of Our Saviour, their children played in the river, they enjoyed fellowship with their neighbors and worked hard to make a living, like all of us. Their house may be gone, but our community is much more than just one house. We will continue in the efforts to protect what is left of our historic Mandarin structures and exemplify what our ancestors did in the past — enjoying the “Mandarin” moments like sitting for a spell under an old oak tree, strolling through the Walter Jones Park, and admiring the blessings bestowed just by living in Mandarin. Spend time with family and friends because you never know what tomorrow will bring. In doing so, we make our own homes a sort of Jubilee Hall.
Brett Nolan is a volunteer with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. Visit www.mandarinmusem.net for more information about Mandarin’s history and museum schedules.
Photo courtesy Florida Memory Project
Winton House in its glory days.