By Brett Nolan
The community of Mandarin boasts many historical contributions to the City of Jacksonville. The area provides a unique look of rural 19th century Florida; however, over recent decades, Mandarin’s rich history has become somewhat hidden. The goal of this new column is to reflect on this history through stories of various sites that are still standing around the community today.
Located at the intersection of County Dock and Loretto roads is the Doctor Henry A. Coleman residence. Coleman purchased the land from John W. Lockwood for $1,000 in 1878 ($23,966 in 2018 dollars). While the date of construction is unclear, it is assumed the house was already there when Coleman purchased the estate. Coleman, a South Carolina native, attended the South Carolina Medical College in 1860. During the Civil War, he served as a surgeon for the Confederate cause.
Once in Mandarin, the doctor was recognized by 1885 as having one of the largest of the three medical practices in the community. It is possible that the original house purchased in 1878 was simpler in appearance; however, because of his successful medical practice, Coleman probably enhanced much of the exterior, as evident today.
A style popular during 1870 – 1910, the structure is of Folk Victorian architecture. Complete with scroll-cut brackets, cornice drapery and decorative porch railings, the home exemplified Coleman’s wealth and status. He valued his home, which was likely his office as well, at $6,000 in 1885 ($149,220 in 2018 dollars).
Typical of Mandarin culture, roughly 500 orange trees were said to be on the Coleman property, some remaining today. After the death of the famed doctor and his wife, Harriet, the property was inherited by their only child, Essie Ida Coleman. Essie married late in life to a cousin, also named Henry Coleman. The house left the Coleman family in 1956, but the residence still carries on much valued history of Mandarin’s storied past…
Together, when we know our history and the significance of our historic locations, we can better protect them for generations to come. It is imperative that we keep the unique charm of Mandarin from becoming a thing of the past.
Brett Nolan is a volunteer with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. Visit www.mandarinmuseum.net for more information about Mandarin’s history.
Photo courtesy Mandarin Museum & Historical Society.
The Coleman House.