Memorial Day Concert In The Park at Historic Riverside's Memorial Park

  • by 904 Newsroom
  • May 27, 2022

This Memorial Day, make plans to join us in Historic Riverside's Memorial Park for a FREE CONCERT featuring Navy Band Southeast. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Make it a picnic!

Parking: Parking is available at the Ascension/St. Vincent’s Parking Lot A, at 2116 Riverside Avenue at the corner of Goodwin Street (diagonally across from Publix). The parking lot will open at 4 p.m. and close the morning of May 31.

History of Memorial Park

From its beginning, Memorial Park has existed through collaborative partnerships of public and private interests. In November 1918, George Hardee of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville put forth a proposal for a memorial to honor Floridians who died in service during “The Great War,” known today as World War I, which was to be paid for by the citizens of Greater Jacksonville and dedicated in a new public park. The following year, the City of Jacksonville purchased approximately six acres along the St. Johns River in the neighborhood district of Riverside for $125,000. Hardee led efforts to form the Citizens Committee to plan the park’s development, along with various civic leaders and philanthropists, such as Morgan Gress, Ninah Cummer, Edith Gray, and Mary Cline. In two years they raised $52,000, commissioned nationally famed local-area sculptor Charles Adrian Pillars to create a memorial to Florida’s war dead, and hired the renowned Olmsted Brothers to design the park.

When the City began constructing the park, local architect Roy Benjamin was brought in to assist with details and provide construction oversight. By the end of 1924, construction and plantings were sufficiently complete to erect Pillars’ memorial, the instantly iconic sculpture Spiritualized Life, and on Christmas Day 1924 both the memorial and the park were dedicated. Life was unveiled by two young girls: Mary Burrows, the niece of Edward DeSaussure, who was killed in action in the Argonne, and Mary Bedell, the niece of Bessie Gale, a YMCA nurse who died in France in early 1919. To further honor the fallen, the names of the more than 1,220 Floridians who died in the first World War were inscribed on parchment and placed in a lead box within a bronze box which was buried in the ground in front of the sculpture Life.

The main feature of the park is the bronze sculpture Life, created by the celebrated Charles Adrian Pillars. This statue honors the Floridians that died in service during World War I. The substantial sculpture is back dropped by the St. Johns River making for a wonderful photo opportunity. The grassy lawn is often filled with picnicking families and pick-up soccer games on the weekends. Along the water you may find fishing or just casual observers enjoying the view of the widest part of the St. Johns River. 

This park, located just a short walk from dozens of restaurants in 5 points is a perfect spot to take an evening stroll and to watch the sunset. Hope to see you there sometime.


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