Main Street Book: “Downtown Jacksonville Then & Now” Looks at Historic District Through The Ages

By Benjamin Cox on January 6, 2023 at 11:36am

Used with permission of Jacksonville Main Street

Jacksonville Main Street is offering up a new look at the past in a newly published book. According to a press release Thursday Executive Director Judy Tighe, “Downtown Jacksonville Then & Now”, is a hard-cover pictorial review of how downtown Jacksonville has changed over the years and is the first book of this kind. Printed locally, it is the culmination of many hours of Jacksonville Main Street’s Design Committee volunteer labor and research according to Tighe.

The book contains rarely-seen historical pictures dating as far back as the 1870s and new full-color photos that compare the modifications, its 88 pages are filled with hundreds of visual reminders of stores, structures, and styles through the years.

Tighe says that interest in a project like this over the years spurred the publication. “We have had a lot of people express interest over the years about the changes downtown and how it used to be before Urban Renewal and after. There’s also been a great deal of interest in how we’ve been sort of restoring the square over the years as much as possible to what it originally was. So a lot of people have expressed interest and they were always fascinated to see the pictures I have in my office of how downtown has changed over the course of time.

Years ago, our then Design Committee Chair Carol Carl had the idea that we should put all these pictures in a book. People get a real kick out of seeing the changes over the years, and then to take new pictures and compare them back and forth.”

Photo credit: Nick Little

The cost of the book is $30 and it will be available for purchase both online on the Jacksonville Main Street website and in person at the office. “Downtown Jacksonville Then & Now” can also be purchased at Market House Antiques, Our Town Books, Gillham House, Crimson Cup & Spirit Stop, The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company (downtown facility), and the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tighe says the cost of the book will offset the manufacturing of it which took place locally at Bound-To-Stay Bound, but any further proceeds have other plans for use. “Any of the proceeds from this book will then go to beautification projects that the Design Committee has planned. There are several things that we have been looking at doing and trying to secure funding for, including some beautification items that will be interactive and available in the square.”

Tighe says she hasn’t ruled out a sequel to the book, depending upon sales and any reaction from the public. She says that during the making of the book, the committee came across several great photographs and stories about Jacksonville that may fit into a similar book project down the road.