Jacksonville Area Museum Saves Bandstand’s Iconic “Ice Cream” Finial Ahead of Demo

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 28, 2023 at 4:04pm

An area museum has taken receipt of a piece of Jacksonville history that will soon be no more.

The Jacksonville Area Museum is the new home for the finial topper from the condemned Nichols Park bandstand. The local landmark structure has been slated for demolition after it was discovered that the structure is beyond repair and had become a safety hazard.

Museum manager McKenna Servis said the museum got to work after learning of the eventual fate of the bandstand to try and save a piece from demolition.

Mayor Andy Ezard says he was happy the museum expressed interest as the fate of the bandstand has been an emotional topic for many. “You know, a couple of meetings ago we said we were going to demo that bandstand and I understand people’s reluctance and their feelings about it.

So it felt good about saving that top. That’s the main fixture on that bandstand, the other parts are rotted and it’s just not salvageable. But, you know the museum reached out and that’s the appropriate place for it, and we were able to secure it and give it to the museum.”

The Nichols Park Bandstand sits on a cold January day in this file photo. The bandstand will be demolished soon due to safety concerns.

Last week the finial was removed from the roof and delivered to the Jacksonville Area Museum. The piece that resembles an ice cream swirl is made of metal and stands nearly five feet tall.

Servis says the museum’s Board of Directors will be discussing how to display the newest addition this week as it will pose a challenge given its large size. She says an exhibit based around the bandstand will likely be created at some point and then a long-term display place will also likely need to be figured out.

The Nichols Park Bandstand. Photo dated September 24th, 1966, courtesy of the Jacksonville Area Museum.

Ezard says he is glad at least part of the structure was able to be saved. “It’s not perfect but I think a lot of pride goes into that and I think people will enjoy seeing that top of the bandstand, so there is a bit of its history that will stay with us.”

According to information provided to the museum by local historian Greg Olson, the Nichols Park Bandstand was constructed in 1908, four years after the park opened. It was designed by Clarence Buckingham, the Jacksonville architect who also designed the Nichols Park Pavilion, and the Central Park Plaza bandstand that was later enclosed and moved to the park in 1917.

The old Central Park Bandstand still stands just east of the Nichols Park Bandstand and is currently used for storage by the parks department.

Ezard says the Nichols Park bandstand will likely come down soon, so long as the ground is dry enough to allow for the work to be completed without tearing up the ground around it.