ISBN 10: 1626197261 / ISBN 13: 9781626197268
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Inhaltsangabe: Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast is an essential book for anyone interested in visiting the wide variety of fascinating early residential structures which are open to the public in the North Florida area.  With five geographic sections containing short chapters about each of the chronologically listed homes, this book provides readers with an easy to use guide for planning entertaining and educational day trips throughout the region. 

Among the homes featured are some of the nation's oldest Spanish Colonial structures located in St. Augustine, the Kingsley Plantation house on Jacksonville's Fort George Island, and simple "Cracker" style houses located throughout the area.  Collectively, these homes span a time period of more than 250 years.  Former residents of the homes include exiled European royalty, writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, musician Frederick Delius and a number of lesser known but equally important early settlers of the North Florida area.
In addition to the informative and absorbing text, Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast includes ninety images; thirty vintage photographs accompanied by sixty original photographs of both the exteriors and the rarely photographed interiors of these important structures. 

Through both words and images, award winning photographic artist and author Mary Atwood brings to life the rich histories of these homes, sharing stories of the courage displayed by those who made significant contributions to the area now known as Florida's First Coast.

From the Author: When I was a very young girl living in southeastern Tennessee, my grandmother lived in Miami.  My earliest memory of Florida is of my parents driving us to Miami for a Christmas visit.  We drove down via the Florida Turnpike, through the orange groves, at night - and there must have been a freeze that night because there were smelting pots burning in all of the groves.  I can clearly remember thinking, as any small child would, that the entire state was on fire.  So my first impression of people who live in Florida was that they were all either - A) totally crazy or B) incredibly courageous. 

When I was ten years old, my parents decided to move the family to Florida.  It must be said, that even as a young child, I had an overly romantic imagination and my only real exposure to Florida had been through those visits to Miami - so I fully expected to be living in a tropical paradise, with palm trees and flamingos in my back yard.  However, my parents moved us to a very small and very rural North Florida town named Lawtey....so the reality failed to match up to my romantic tropical dream. 

By the time I entered the sixth grade we had moved to the city of Jacksonville, and it was there that I experienced my first exposure to Florida history.  I can't recall the name of my sixth grade teacher, or the names of any of my classmates from that year.  But I can clearly recall the Florida history textbook which was issued to me.  It had a yellow cover which featured a picture of a Spanish conquistador, dressed in green clothing and wearing his metal breastplate and helmet.  In my overly romantic ten year old imagination, he looked to be a very heroic figure.   And as I read the stories of the early explorers such as Hernando de Soto and Juan Ponce de Leon, I began - for the first time - to fall in love with Florida history.  Even then I thought about how much courage it must have taken to leave behind your homeland, sail across the Atlantic, and explore a completely unknown area. 

Many years later, I accompanied my own child on his fifth grade safety patrol trip to Washington DC.  There, in the Smithsonian Museum of American history, I saw an exhibit which forever changed the way I view the subject of history - the Revolutionary War gunboat Philadelphia, which was sunk by a British cannonball during the battle of Lake Champlain.  At just over fifty feet long and fifteen feet wide, the boat seemed shockingly small to me.  I couldn't imagine the level of courage it took to board that very small boat and attempt to take on the much larger and better armed British ships that were firing cannon balls at the rag-tag fleet of revolutionary boats. 

It was at that moment that I began to realize that history is not just about the battles and wars.  It is about ordinary individuals who exhibited extraordinary courage. 

This idea of individual history is at the very heart of the approach I took in creating both the First Coast Reflections art project and my new book, Historic Homes of Florida's First Coast.  The stories contained in my book are not only about the houses themselves, but also the stories of the people who made these houses their homes.  And many of them are very courageous stories. 

From the early Spanish settlers of St. Augustine who cleared the wilderness and worked to coax crops from soil which is little more than sand, to the amazing story of Anna Kingsley who burned her Orange Park plantation to the ground to keep it out of enemy hands during the Patriots Rebellion, and the original eight Sisters of St. Joseph who came from France to teach the children of freed slaves after the end of the Civil War ...... there are stories of courageous men and women who crossed the cultural barriers of their time and shaped our beautifully diverse culture.  There are stories of renowned artists whose works were inspired by the natural beauty of our area, such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's stories of her life in Cross Creek and composer Frederick Delius's hauntingly beautiful Florida Suite.  There are stories of those individuals such as Jacksonville's James Merrill and Newberry's Captain Phillip Benjamin Harvey Dudley, whose efforts created the jobs needed to create growth in their respective communities.  You can read these stories in my book, which I hope you will do.

But more importantly, you can visit all of these homes yourself and learn, as I have, the true value of preserving our collective history and protecting these treasured structures. 

For this is the ultimate purpose of both my art project and my book; to raise awareness of the valuable work being done by those who have taken on the tremendous responsibility of caring for these homes.  And I hope that will, in turn, result in to increased appreciation and support of the restoration and preservation work being carried out in this area. 

In closing, I would like to say that I went into these projects believing that I knew a good deal about the history of the North Florida area.  I quickly discovered that my knowledge was superficial at best, consisting mostly of facts learned by rote.  It wasn't until I did the hard work of digging below the surface that I discovered these inspiring individual stories, which are the true heartbeat of our history.  And in doing so I came away with a much deeper respect and profound appreciation for those who made their homes in the area I now call home, Florida's First Coast.  I hope my work honors each of their memories.

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