Here in Jacksonville Florida, we have some amazing little historic areas, and with the Fall weather rolling in, I've had a yearning to explore. So for the meantime, I'm laying the paintbrush down in exchange for a little discovery.
You may remember, on my last visit to the San Marco area, I left feeling quite curious about the lions. My time was limited then, but I could see the symbolism was strong and knew there must be more to the story. So, I finally did the research and enticed my husband into an afternoon of lunch and learning. Dazzling fun, yes? Turns out, these stoic bronze sculptures and bas-relief designs are reminiscent of the lions of Venice Italy, specifically the ones found in St. Marks Square, or if you're slightly more Italian than me, the Piazza San Marco. Hellooo. So there's an obvious explanation, but still I wondered, why here? What does ancient Italy have in common with this hip little shopping and dining district in Jacksonville? Venice is pretty far away - approximately 4,932 miles away according to Happy Zebra, so what's the connection?
Well, the San Marco Preservation Society helped me learn the original connection is a 'who' - a Mr. Telfair Stockton. This man with the fabulous first name purchased the area in the 1920's, and as the story goes, was so inspired by a trip to Italy's San Marco that he patterned his new piece of prime real estate after it. Italian Renaissance Revival was the initial design theme and over time the the lions were added in keeping with Stockton's vision. Nowadays it boasts other great architectural styles like Mediterranean Revival, Spanish Colonial and the swanky Art Deco of the theater you see here. The neon sign was being repaired on the day we visited - fun to watch the antics, and it's glowing nice and strong now. Zzzt Zzzt.
Ok, I've been following the research up to this point, but here's where my mind begins to entertain me. Are we sure that Mr. Stockton's naming of the area was strictly based on inspiration? I would stay with that reason alone if it weren't for the vivid little visual swirling around in my head. (I just love noticing parallels) If you have a globe nearby, peek at Florida and Italy from above. Do you see what I see? Both are peninsulas, and both Venice and Jacksonville are located in the northeastern most spot, in a sweet little bend where the land meets the cool blue water. Hmmm. Maybe Telfair was trying to say something, like - SECRET PASSAGEWAY TO VENICE HERE? Guess I'll look for the entrance next time (wink). In any case, it seems Italy has a fun little echo this side of the ocean and now I know where to get a yummy calzone.
P.S. This is 'Jack' the friendly neighborhood Corgi. He deserves his own post. Stay tuned.