SAN MARCO is a small and mainly upscale neighborhood south of downtown Jacksonville across the Saint Johns River. Developed in the 1920’s the San Marco neighborhood is diverse but mostly popular with young professionals due to its trendy look. The area was originally a farm on the eastern bank of the St. Johns River, known as the community of Oklahoma and home to Harrison Reed, who was elected Florida’s Reconstruction governor in 1868 and 1873.
The key to the area’s growth was the construction in 1921 of the ST. JOHNS RIVER BRIDGE which made the area an accessible suburb rather than a distant community.
The center of the community is THE SQUARE, an upscale commercial district which contains several key landmarks.
The area has a European feel and is the home to many of Jacksonville’s best restaurants.
The 1926 SAN MARCO BUILDING at 1978 San Marco was the headquarters of the original developers of San Marco, but today houses several fashionable stores. The Mediterranean Revival style fits the area’s oldest buildings.
Another downtown mark is the SAN MARCO THEATRE (1938) at 1996 San Marco. It is a neat Art Deco structure, but it should also be noted the area even has a LITTLE THEATRE (1938) at 2032 San Marco to show its arty desires.
Other buildings in San Marco include the original SOUTH JACKSONVILLE CITY HALL and the homes of the Swisher family. CARL S. SWISHER’s house (1929) at 2234 River Road is a Mediterranean Revival on part of the Villa Alexandria estate.
Carl donated the Library at Jacksonville University and dozens of other civic structures. His father JOHN H. SWISHER, the original cigar manufacturer and founder of King Edward Cigars (once #1 in the world) built a mansion at 2252 River Road.
ST. PAULS CHURCH (1888) was saved and moved to 1652 Atlantic Avenue to serve as the San Marco Preservation Hall.
Probably the most famous public landmark is the LANDON HIGH SCHOOL & JUNIOR HIGH COMPLEX (1926) at 1819 Thacker Avenue, an Italian palace of a Mediterranean Revival structure designed by the notable firm of Marsh and Saxelbye who did the San Marco Building.