The Southbank neighborhood of Jacksonville is south of the Main Street Bridge, between downtown and San Marco. It is a small, diverse community comprised of residential neighborhoods surrounded by restaurants, retail shops and art galleries. The area features a variety of historic homes as well as modern high-rise condominiums. Residents enjoy easy access to major businesses such as EverBank Field, Veterans Memorial Arena, Metropolitan Park Mall and the Financial Center. Numerous nightlife destinations are within walking distance or can be reached quickly via nearby expressways.
In 2000 the neighborhood was awarded with Florida’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Historic Preservation in recognition of its architectural heritage and revitalization efforts. Its past has been preserved through restoration initiatives dating back to 1995 when several blocks along Bay Street were renovated. In 1997, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission was instrumental in preserving the city’s oldest home, the Ashcraft-Wilcox House , located on Amelia Street. The commission also worked with residents of the Bay Street corridor to incorporate a rich mix of architectural styles and housing types onto blocks that preserve some of Jacksonville’s most significant Victorian landmarks.
The neighborhood has been called “one of America’s largest living museums” due to the variety of architecture found along its streets (Southbank Neighborhood Association). Although there is still much work to be done, Southbank has undergone extensive revitalization efforts since 1995 when local developer Charles Tisdale began buying dilapidated mansions along Bay Street and renovating them into upscale townhomes. After the success of this project, Tisdale began working with the city of Jacksonville to develop an entire block in 2000. Renowned architect Addison Mizner was commissioned by owner William Kilbride to design and build the Beaux-Arts style Wentworth Mansion on a city owned parcel at the corner of Bay and Museum Streets.