Wayne Wood, the architectural historian who wrote “Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage,” lives in a Prairie-style house that contains ornamental features from some of the city’s iconic structures.
Dear Call Box: I’ve always wondered what architectural historian Wayne Wood’s house looks like. Could you do a column on it?
B.G., East Arlington
Dear B.G.: It’s somehow fitting that the man who wrote the book on Jacksonville’s architecture has a home that’s full of ornamental features from some of the city’s iconic structures.
It’s a home with a memorable past and an eye-catching future. It was built in 1913 and was once an osteopathic hospital. Its “bones” were so aesthetically pleasing that it was selected as the Jacksonville Symphony Showhouse in 1976. And it was on the 25th edition of the Riverside Avondale Preservation Home Tour.
Wood and his wife, artist Lana Shuttleworth, have hosted concerts that have attracted 685 people inside and out.
The house at 2821 Riverside Ave. is at the top of a hill in the midst of what was a strawberry farm in the 1880s.
The Prairie-style home has oak flooring and three balconies shaded by 6-foot overhanging eaves that keep out rain and provide shade.
Then there’s the predominance of mahogany as you enter the house. There’s a striking mahogany-paneled foyer, a dramatic mahogany staircase, imposing mahogany columns, mahogany detailing on the ceilings and on framing encasing the windows in the living and dining rooms.
Wood said he admires its clean architectural lines. He loves walking through it in the morning and noting its intriguing angles and the way sunlight filters through the beveled-glass windows. There’s always something to catch the eye, he said.
“I’ve always loved it, but I never thought I would live here,” said Wood, who bought the home in 1999.
Surprisingly, perhaps, there’s a touch of whimsy inside and out. Consider the 8-foot-tall sculpture of an orange chicken that Shuttleworth made with 200 recycled traffic safety cones. Shuttleworth built a reputation in Los Angeles as a gifted artist who created artwork by cutting out thousands and thousands of pieces of cones.
The sculpture, dubbed “Origin” in reference to the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, was commissioned by the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Calif. Later, Shuttleworth and Wood brought it to Jacksonville where it was displayed at an off ramp of Interstate 10. After replacing the plastic feathers with new ones, also made from traffic cones, the chicken is now on a 4-foot-tall steel platform in their front yard.
Yes, it is a conversation provoker and generates “cluck cluck” sound effects as people walk by.
One of Shuttleworth's pieces, by the way, was featured on "Jeopardy" in 2008 as Alex Trebek posed the answer, "Lana Shuttleworth created this work of art out of these roadside safety devices."
The 106-year-old house was built for Lucius Smith, a real estate developer. In 1946 it was converted into an osteopathic hospital, and its elegant façade was covered over with concrete additions that stretched to the sidewalk. The hospital closed in the late 1960s, and it was later restored to a single-family dwelling.
Through the years, its six prior owners made various changes, including the addition of a pool and back terrace while Wood added a koi pond.
It's Wood's favorite house, so much so that he said he plans to remain in it until he’s 108, adding that longevity runs in his family.
Wood, a retired optometrist and artist, said the house is a visual feast for the eye.
"I've always been fond of the Prairie style of architecture, and it's probably one of the premier Prairie-style houses in Florida," he said, noting the flowing space and the horizontal lines that blend with the environment.
Other features include pocket doors with stained-glass insets, a separate garage apartment, a butler's pantry and a giant master bedroom boasting a marble Jacuzzi and fireplace.
Wood bought the tile-roofed house from a friend without it going on the market. The 5,200-square-foot structure lends itself to casual living and entertaining, he said.
The designer of the two-story masonry structure, which is surrounded by a 6-foot wrought iron fence, is unknown. But recent research indicates that it may be the work of the Mark & Sheftal firm, proteges of noted architect Henry Klutho.
The house, inside and out, is like living in a work of art, Wood said.
There’s the violin-like terra cotta ornament from the demolished East Jacksonville Elementary School, which opened in 1918 and was designed by Klutho. It now resides in his backyard.
There’s a red, white and black glass sculpture from the now-closed Candy Apple Café that was in pieces and had to be reconstructed. Eventually it will hang in his dining room.
Other terra cotta pieces hang outside. There are ornaments from the Floridan Hotel. There are three Indian heads from the Seminole Hotel in the pool area. There’s decorative grill work that once adorned the top of the West Bay Annex.
The ivy-covered wall also has parts of the old Florida Title Building and the cupid from the George Washington Hotel.
He and Shuttleworth always have a project going with the help of “Magic” Ralph Wicklund, Wood said. Indeed, Wicklund was at the house during the interview working on a backyard addition.
The house is furnished in an eclectic style. There are many paintings by Orange Park artist Courtenay Hunt, and Wood and Shuttleworth said they support local artists.
There’s a striking picture of the couple in formal attire, a hand clasped in a dancing pose, that was unveiled at their wedding, which took place at the house. It was done by Jeff Whipple.
“We both love art and make art, and it reflects some of our inclinations,” he said.
One interesting feature is what Wood calls a museum or “curiosity room.” Here you will find items ranging from artistic old razor blade packaging to numerous optical illusions.
There are items that are obsolete. Some are silly, some beautiful and some bizarre, he said. It also serves as a game run.
There’s another interesting feature outdoors — a mosaic or wonder wall chock-a-block with items such as shells, found objects, tile, a marble boiled egg and one sunny-side up.
Then there’s perhaps the ultimate question: Yes, the house is in Wood’s book, “Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage,” and it sits on a coffee table in his living room.
If you have a question about Jacksonville’s history, call (904) 359-4128, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Call Box, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL 32231. Please include contact information. Photos are also welcome.