By Brett Nolan
The area of Mandarin, since the opening of its first post office in 1765, had several name changes. Originally under British rule, “St. Anthony” was what the area was called. When Spain took possession of Florida again in 1783, the name was changed to San Antonio and once again the name changed after Florida became a U.S. Territory — to Monroe — after our fifth president.
The name Mandarin first appeared on Federal Post Office records in July 1830; however, it wasn’t until 1841 when Mandarin officially incorporated as a town. This was all done under the direction of Calvin Read. Read credited the name after the popular local fruit, the Mandarin orange. But not everyone was happy with this decision for township. Surrounding Indians in the area took arms on Dec. 20, 1841 and raided Mandarin; they burned many structures and killed four people.
Calvin Read was a prominent figure in our community back then. He came from New England shortly after Florida was under American control and quickly became known for having Mandarin’s largest orange groves. While being an avid citrus farmer, Read also was Mandarin’s postmaster at the time. He son Charles F. Read assumed the position of postmaster later.
Calvin Read’s grandson, Calvin C. Read built a two-story farmhouse in 1885 on a portion of the property. This wooden frame house features lathe-turned porch posts and scroll-cut brackets along the veranda. Around the entire roofline, including both ends of the porch roof, a unique wooden cornice poised with pointed vertical staves highlights the estate.
Calvin C. Read was a citrus farmer like his family before him, continuing on with the tradition. Fannie Bowden, another descendant of one of Mandarin’s pioneer families, occupied the house later in the years to come.
The structure received three out of four stars in a city supported study that turned into the masterwork, “Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage,” published in 1989. The publication categorizes a three-star rating as “a great value to the immediate neighborhood.” The Read home was recognized by the state as making “a significant contribution to the architectural integrity of the community and is a landmark symbolizing Mandarin’s past.”
As of today, this property on Brady Road, across from the Mandarin Community Club, is on the market for sale. Purchasing this home and giving it a little TLC would help protect the charm of Mandarin. Think you have what it takes?
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
Front of the Read House.