July 14, 2024


Interior The Freshmaker

Opened in 1916, the structure was a funeral home until it closed in 2019 | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record

Proprietor Eric Adler desires to designate the Pratt Funeral Household as a Jacksonville historic landmark. 

To do that, he hired Ray, Ellis & LaBrie Consulting of Atlanta to draft the software for the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Fee.

Here’s what it discovered.

The company was started in 1900 by Lawton Pratt (1886-1943) and operated in the 400 block of Broad Road right until moving into the setting up at 527 W. Beaver St. in 1915.

The Pratt Funeral House in LaVilla at 525 W. Beaver St.

Duval County Residence Appraiser records clearly show the constructing was built in 1916. Documents from that time may perhaps not be precise.

The tackle was transformed from 527 W. Beaver St. to 525 W. Beaver St. in the 1970s. 

It was in continuous use as a funeral residence until eventually it closed in 2019.

Pratt is detailed as the second accredited black funeral director in Florida. He examined at the Cincinnati College of Embalming.

Moreover funeral providers, bodies have been embalmed and caskets ended up constructed in the constructing.

The Florida Morticians Association internet site lists Pratt as a single of the founders of the Florida Negro Embalmers and Morticians Association. Its 1st meeting was held at Pratt Funeral Dwelling.

After Pratt’s loss of life in 1943, his apprentice, Oscar Hillman, and his spouse, Evelyn Hillman, took more than the organization and it turned the Hillman-Pratt Funeral Property. 

The harmless stays inside of the Pratt Funeral House in LaVilla at 525 W. Beaver St. The new proprietor of the property desires to maintain this and other artifacts to decorate his proposed Airbnb.

Oscar Hillman died in 1978 and the small business was operate by his wife until finally it was taken more than by Anthony Walton in 2002.

 It operated as Hillman-Pratt & Walton Funeral Household until eventually it shut.

The creating was intended and designed by Joseph Haygood Blodgett (1858-1934), an African American self-taught architect and builder. It is a person of the previous standing industrial attributes Blodgett intended in the city.

After the Excellent Hearth of 1901, which ruined a great deal of Downtown, Blodgett took out a $5,000 mortgage from the State Bank of Florida and by 1919 experienced developed 258 homes and owned 100 of them. 

Considerably less than 20 yrs afterwards, Blodgett turn out to be one particular of the richest gentlemen in the metropolis.

Architecturally, the creating is of observe simply because “The Hillman-Pratt Funeral Household has vernacular architectural aspects that ended up typically applied by African American grasp builders and architects at the flip-of-the-twentieth century.”

A grave marker inside of the hearse garage at the Pratt Funeral House in LaVilla.

The funeral property represents the segregated period that expected black professionals to serve their personal group. These was the situation with Pratt.

By the 1920s, lots of black-owned businesses congregated alongside West Beaver and Broad streets in LaVilla. Companies incorporated banks, insurance coverage firms, film theaters, grocery suppliers, health-related and health providers and other pros.

By the 1960s, LaVilla was in drop. The building of Interstate 95 disrupted the neighborhood in 1959. 

With the conclude of authorized segregation in the mid-1960s, many LaVilla residents moved away.

In 1993, Mayor Ed Austin’s “River Town Renaissance” demolished virtually 50 blocks for redevelopment.

The Pratt Funeral Home survived.

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