Florida’s First Retirement Community

Florida’s First Retirement Community
Advent Christian Village, Dowling Park, Florida

In a horseshoe-like bend of the Suwannee River at Dowling Park, Florida there is a community that is celebrating its Centennial Year. Advent Christian Village (ACV) has the distinction of being the first retirement community in Florida. In 1913, it opened for business as an orphanage and a home for “tired and worn-out preachers and their spouses.”

Advent Christian Village began with a dream. In 1910, Thomas Dowling of The Dowling Lumber and Naval Stores Company at Dowling Park sold his vast holdings to Richard W. Sears of the Sears Roebuck Company dynasty. Dowling deeded 120 acres to the Advent Christian Conference of Churches to establish a church campground. The campground did not materialize until later, but Dr. Burr A.L. Bixler, minister of the Advent Christian Church in Live Oak, Florida, envisioned an orphanage and a home for “tired and worn-out Christian workers.” On December 17, 1913, a family of five children arrived at the American Advent Christian Home and Orphanage at Dowling Park. In July, 1914, Rev. Henry Smith was the first minister to enter the Home.

Orphans at the American Advent Christian Home and Orphanage at Dowling Park  enjoy a cart ride by the river. Old Buck, the ox, is the motor for the wagon, circa 1914

Orphans at the American Advent Christian Home and Orphanage at Dowling Park enjoy a cart ride by the river. Old Buck, the ox, is the motor for the wagon, circa 1914

 

The dream of a handful of people at the beginning of the 20th century developed into a secure comprehensive care community on 1,200 acres of woodlands and scenic landscapes along the banks of the Suwannee River. The eight hundred residents choose from a wide range of housing options from homeownership to mid-rise Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facilities, ground level apartments and manufactured homes. The continuum of services includes a 161-bed nursing home and 40-bed assisted living facility.

Through the years, the Home and Orphanage (now Advent Christian Village) adjusted to the changes in society and remained true to its mission to express Christ’s love by providing compassionate care and quality comprehensive services for senior adults, families with special needs, and children in a secure, supportive residential setting and in the surrounding communities.

Advent Christian Village’s Centennial Celebration began by planting 100 flowering trees across the main campus as well as trees along one roadway that will someday become a canopy road. A special centennial event is planned for each month during 2013. The Village Heritage Trail with 24 illustrated markers recounts the early buildings that comprised the Home and Orphanage and church campground. The year ends with a Founder’s Day spectacular in December when a pictorial history book will be unveiled.

Miami Municipal Airport and Amelia Earhart

On the morning of June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart took off from Miami Municipal Airport, beginning her second attempt to fly around the world.

That day’s flight was uneventful. She landed in Puerto Rico in the afternoon, but would not complete her circumnavigation. Earhart was remembered in the naming of the field from which her flight began. Miami Municipal Airport was rededicated as Amelia Earhart Field in 1947, and now Amelia Earhart Park is located near the site in northwestern Miami-Dade County.

Groundbreaking at Miami Municipal Airport, November 4, 1929

Groundbreaking at Miami Municipal Airport, November 4, 1929

Read more »

Drake In Detail

On May 28 and 29, 1586, Sir Francis Drake attacked St. Augustine.

Drake’s raid was part of a larger expedition led by the English privateer against Spanish settlements in the Caribbean. An Italian cartographer named Baptista Boazio created this map in order to illustrate Drake’s successful campaign. Boazio’s hand-colored map is the earliest known depiction of a European settlement in what is now the United States; it is also the oldest item in the collections of the State Archives of Florida.

Map of Drake's raid on St. Augustine, by Baptista Boazio, published in 1589

Map of Drake’s raid on St. Augustine, by Baptista Boazio, published in 1589

Boazio, who never visited St. Augustine, included fine details in his map derived from first-hand accounts of English exploits. Join us as we take a look at Drake in detail.

Detail of a galleon, the largest of the 43 vessels portrayed by Boazio

Detail of a galleon, the largest of the 43 vessels portrayed by Boazio

Read more »

The Tallahassee Bus Boycott Begins (May 1956)

On May 26, 1956, two female students from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson, sat down in the “whites only” section of a segregated bus in the city of Tallahassee. When they refused to move to the “colored” section at the rear of the bus, the driver pulled into a service station and called the police. Tallahassee police arrested Jakes and Patterson and charged them with “placing themselves in a position to incite a riot.”

In the days immediately following these arrests, students at FAMU organized a campus-wide boycott of city buses. Their collective stand against segregation set an example that propelled like-minded Tallahassee citizens into action. Soon, news of the boycott spread throughout the community.

Reverend C. K. Steele at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Tallahassee, January 3, 1957

Reverend C. K. Steele at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Tallahassee, January 3, 1957

Read more »

Emancipation Day Celebrations in Florida

Emancipation was proclaimed in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865, 11 days after the end of the Civil War and two years after the proclamation was first issued by President Abraham Lincoln. For this reason, Emancipation Day in Florida is traditionally celebrated on May 20th.

Henry White playing guitar at an Emancipation Day celebration (193-)
Henry White playing guitar at an Emancipation Day celebration (1930s)

 

Annual Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (between 1922 and 1927)
Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)
Read more »

Women and World War II

On May 14, 1942, Congress approved an Act that allowed women to enlist for noncombat duties in the U.S. military. The Act led to the creation of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), the Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), and the Semper Paratus Always Ready Service (SPARS). Many Florida women were quick to sign up and serve their country.

Portrait of Sarah Kaplan during World War II
Portrait of Sarah Kaplan during World War II
Read more »

The Space Race (May 5, 1961)

On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard Jr. made the first manned spaceflight in U.S. history. He piloted the spacecraft Freedom 7 during a 15-minute and 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth.

Shepard entering Freedom 7

Shepard entering Freedom 7

Shepard was the second person to travel into space. Twenty-three days prior to Shepard’s flight, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first-ever human in space. The space race was on…

Launch of Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral

Launch of Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral

Great Jacksonville Fire (May 3, 1901)

On May 3, 1901, a devastating fire swept through downtown Jacksonville and destroyed much of the city. Jacksonville persevered, despite suffering from the largest urban fire in the 20th century United States, and its resilient citizens rebuilt downtown.

Church Street after the Great Fire: Jacksonville (1901)

Church Street after the Great Fire: Jacksonville (1901)

Visit Florida Memory to view more photographs of the Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901, including a photographic exhibit showing scenes from before, during, and after the blaze.

Jean Ribault Explores the St. Johns River (April 30, 1562)

On April 30, 1562, French explorer Jean Ribault led an expedition ashore near the mouth of the St. Johns River. They continued north to what is now South Carolina before returning to Europe. Ribault returned to the Americas in 1564 and was among those killed during the Spanish – French struggle for control over La Florida.

"The French Sail to the River of May," from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

“The French Sail to the River of May,” from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

Between the time he returned to Europe and before the second French expedition sailed in 1564, Ribault published an account of his journey titled The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida. His brief account provides insight into his perception of the land and people he encountered. The below spellings retain those that appear in an early English-language printing of Ribault’s account.
Read more »