The mission was to see the courthouses of Florida's First Coast, a silly marketing name given to northeast Florida years ago.
We met up at Camp David, actually a trailer home near Newberry, Florida that serves as a nice getaway.
Monday morning started with breakfast, where we met a nice couple who own two Maple Street Biscuit restaurants in the area. This one was empty when we arrived and never got busy, but Edwina and Josh, the owners were interested in our scooters and were very kind during the visit.
From there we rode through my alma mater, the University of Florida, where I received a Masters degree in 1979.
The Alachua County courthouse is only a few blocks east of the university and we arrived, took photos and left without entering.
Next stop Starke, where there are two Bradford County courthouses. We stopped at the old one first. It is being used as a campus for the local university and has been restored for the adaptive use. The large courtroom on the second floor now sub-divided into offices and classrooms.
The new courthouse was a mile north and typical of the newer courthouses, that being non imaginative architecture. This one was interesting in that they had the 10 Commandments on a display outside. Next to that was a display placed by the Atheists of America, presenting another view.
We headed northwest from there to the Union County courthouse in Lake Butler. It was built in around 1940 in a traditional style. We went inside and visited the courtroom that was busy discussing the restitution for stealing a gaming system. The woman being heard said she couldn't pay the $700. I believed it. From there Ken had found that there was an earlier courthouse for Union County. We found a tin covered building that looked old and large enough to have served that purpose.
Next stop was the Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny. This one was build in 1940 with in a Greek Revival style. It has been renovated with new windows and doors but still looked good. We went inside and were given a tour by one of the guards. The courtroom was huge and quite original so we asked if we could take photographs. The guard first said "sure" but then thought he better ask the courthouse staff. They spent fifteen minutes discussing the request, then came out with an 11 page contract we would have to read, sign and wait weeks for approval. We declined. From there we stopped by the older, historic courthouse that now serves as the local library.
Next stop was the new Nassau County courthouse in Yulee. I was amazed when we turned the corner heading into the complex and saw the massive structure. It was rather well designed for a new one, this one turned out to be 17 years old but still looked new. We went inside but didn't visit a courtroom, just talked with one of the Bailiffs, who had much to say about the building and the old one that is still in use in Fernandina Beach.
That one we visited next and got to walk around the corridors and courtroom. No inside photos here either, but it was a very fine building that had been renovated thirty years ago. My friend, Ken Smith was responsible for the architectural work in the renovations, like he provided for many of these older buildings.
The last stop was the massive Duval County courthouse in Jacksonville. We stopped in front, took photos and left for the house.
When we got to my house and were putting the scooters away, we noticed a grinding sound coming from Ken's rear wheel. That was enough to change out plans for the next day. Ken said he would rent a car, drive it home then bring his trailer to pick up the scooter. I said that I have a truck for those purposes, so we would take it back to St. Petersburg together in the bed of my truck. We did and all is good again.
Alachua County Courthouse
Old Bradford County Courthouse
New Bradford County Courthouse.
Union County Courthouse
Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny
The old Baker County Courthouse, now a library.
The huge Nassau County Courthouse in Yulee.
The old Nassau County Courthouse in Fernandina Beach. Still used as a courthouse.
The massive Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville.
On the ride, the true reason for the Tours.
Lostboater's scooter loaded into the bed of my truck for the ride back to St. Petersburg.