What We Do
Since its founding in 1974, RAP has been an advocate for active preservation of our neighborhood’s historical assets. The challenge of balancing preservation with progress is an enduring one. When historic buildings are allowed to deteriorate or are torn down, or when our historical street grid is eliminated, a part of our past disappears forever. When that happens, we lose history that helps us know who we are, and we lose opportunities to live and work in the kinds of interesting and attractive surroundings that older buildings provide.
As a response to this need, the organization’s board and staff work with residents, businesses, the city planning and zoning departments, and like preservation groups in the state to ensure that our history and the traces of our cultural heritage remain intact.
Riverside Avondale Preservation, Inc. (RAP) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and preserve the architecture, history, culture and economic vibrancy of the Riverside Avondale historic neighborhood. RAP facilitates neighborhood improvements and preservation through community participation, education, advocacy and events that highlight Riverside Avondale’s unique quality of life.
(RAP’s Annual Report, which includes a review of this year’s work, can be found here 2010 Annual Report [PDF]).
Here are some examples of what we do:
Heritage and architectural preservation are at the forefront of RAP’s contributions to the community. RAP promotes and assists with restoration projects and has volunteer committees that deal with special issues such as zoning and historic preservation. The Zoning Committee is familiar with the city’s code and how changes will affect the neighborhood. This committee helps facilitate dialogue between residents and developers in order to best manage the area’s growth and preserve its historical structures. RAP’s Design Review Committee helps residents and businesses comply with the city’s Preservation Ordinance by providing information and suggestions regarding alterations to specific historical structures and landmarks.
The Historic Preservation Committee is involved in creating educational programs and workshops, like the Restore Jacksonville Conference, that help residents recognize and respect the value of historic preservation. RAP’s Newspaper offers helpful renovation tips and articles, while RAP’s Buckland House Library maintains a file on every contributing structure in the neighborhood, in addition to maps and other restoration resources. RAP furthers its own education by attending state and national preservation workshops, and by facilitating public meetings within the neighborhood to give residents the opportunity to provide input and discuss their concerns.
Historic Preservation starts at home. RAP owns and maintains the historic Buckland House, which was owned by George Buckland for almost 80 years and served as The French Primary School from 1918 to 1940. This Colonial Revival style home is located at 2623 Herschel Street and is open to the public. Conserving the Buckland family artifacts and displaying them within the historic house preserves a way of life and captures a special place in time. The organization also promotes the protection of historically significant properties through its Conservation Easement Program and currently holds several easements in our district.
Quality of Life
One of RAP’s original goals remains the maintenance of our neighborhood’s exceptional quality of life. The organization sponsors the popular weekly Riverside Arts Market, an annual Spring Home Tour and a spectacular Christmas Luminaria festival. It also organizes opposition against inappropriate zoning and other incursions that endanger the district’s eclectic mix of architecture, scenery and quality of life. Tree plantings, park restorations, and support of our neighborhood schools and libraries are just as important to our quality of life as dealing with code enforcement and traffic concerns.