Architectural Basics

Houses are designed by architects, even the most basic house has its plans drawn up by a professional designer to generate blueprints and to estimate costs of construction. A good house (any building really) needs to have three basic elements a) Durability; b) Utility; and c) Beauty. Durability seems like a basic concept, but one must realize that homes weren’t always designed to last more than a few years, often made of straw and ephemeral materials. Today, we want homes to last decades, and some homes made of stone and brick have endured centuries. The basic utility of shelter found in the roundhouses and longhouses are things of the past, today we want greater comfort, convenience, and privacy in our homes. Utilitarian needs have also changed. Lastly, beauty is perhaps the most challenging element of home design and the factor most likely to change over time. Drive through a neighborhood like Avondale, San Marco, or Murray Hill and one will find a variety of styles right next to one another. Each home reflects a different aesthetic, possibly a different era of construction and even materials.

My goal is to use this site to discuss the differences in architecture that exist around Jacksonville. There are many distinctive buildings and homes around the city that warrant greater attention.

Gate River Run

The Gate River Run is a Jacksonville staple that celebrated its 40th anniversary in March 2017. The run is a 15K (9.4 miles) through downtown and some of Jacksonville’s great historic neighborhoods. It’s a challenging run with two bridges, the second of which is known as the “Green Monster,” the steepest ascent in the city. The Green Monster is toward the end of the run, in the last mile and a half, just when those legs (or at least mine) begin to feel like jello. Runners enjoy live music along the route, and people often turn the event into a block party to cheer people on as they make their way through the neighborhoods.

Sun-Ray Cinema

Sun-Ray Cinema – A locally owned movie house located in the heart of Five Points that boasts two screens. The Sun-Ray is a hip joint that serves up art house and classic films as well as mega-hit movies. You can order a variety of foods and drinks right to your seat, ranging from fries and pizza to popcorn and vegan sandwiches. They also serve local beers and a variety of old candy standbys. Seating in the theaters is comfortable, and there are couches in the lobby to sit on while you wait for your showing. It is the ideal place to go for a midnight movie, a television show premier, dinner and a movie, or a matinee of the newest action film. Fans of Japanese animation should keep up with this theater’s calendar of events because it often shows new animes and fan-favorite masterpieces (with the option to watch the film with subtitles or with the English dub).

San Marco Theatre

San Marco Theatre – This locally owned movie theatre, built with art deco elements from the 1930s, is located in the heart of San Marco Square. The theatre has two screens, one for main attractions and the other for smaller shows. The seats are comfortable and nicely spaced with tables every two seats, to allow for food and drinks. Oh, that’s the best part; they have hot sandwiches, pizza, wine, and local beer, not just popcorn and soda. Enjoy a bit of local history while enjoying a first-run movie.

Metro Diner

There are six Metro Diner locations around Jacksonville that feed most of the city’s major neighborhoods. Diners can enjoy their favorite Metro menu items at the original diner in San Marco or at the locations in Ortega, the Beaches, Mandarin, Baymeadows, and Ponte Vedra. In recent years they have expanded beyond Jacksonville, but they are a mainstay in the Jax food-scene. They have been featured on the Food Network. Whether you live locally or are passing through and just have to try its TV-famous menu, you will be served great food in a relaxed atmosphere. Expect a bit of a wait for a table, unless you’re happy to eat outside (which is our favorite place to eat, under the oaks in San Marco). Bring your appetite or carry home your leftovers. Everything we’ve ever had at Metro has been great, but a few of our family favorites are the fried chicken and waffles (try it with the maple syrup/hot sauce combo, above), big fish sandwich, yo’hala on the square, and huevos rancheros.