What may be Jacksonville’s oldest jewelry store, will move from the historic downtown building that called it home more than nine decades ago after selling the classic building it docks in.
Roy and Delores Thomas, owners of Jacobs Jewelery, who have worked there since 1968, will say they are moving to a “more customer friendly” location after Jan.
As rental brochures for the Greenleaf and Crosby building show their corner location for rental along with other parts of the Art Deco structure, Delorise Thomas said it was time for a new chapter.
“We love being downtown and being a part of Jacksonville history,” she said. “We’re definitely not leaving. We’re just moving in. We’re excited about the new location and very excited about the future of Jacksonville.”
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JWB Real Estate Capital bought the building in May for $6.95 million, company president Alex Sivakis said. He said they will keep it as an office building and plan to move the company’s headquarters there sometime next year.
“We will work with the downtown investment authority on renewal incentives,” he said. “Jacobs will move in January. We plan to bring in the retail operator, likely F&B [food and beverage] space concept.
History of the building and shop
Damon Greenleaf opened its first jewelry store in the late 1860s along East Bay Street, and also sold flamingo poles, seashells, alligator heads, live birds, and small animals. JH Crosby joined the business a few years later.
The Great Fire of 1901 destroyed that first store, but the two men moved two blocks to 41 W. Bay Street and, to locate the place, ordered a massive four-sided Seth Thomas Clock that cost $1,200, according to a 1997 Times Union story.
Greenleaf and Crosby then built the current 12-story building in 1927, two blocks from City Hall and the main library. Each floor measures approximately 4,875 square feet, while the Jacobs Jewelery site has an area of 4,315 square feet.
The iconic 15-foot-tall cast iron and bronze clock has also been moved to the new location. Then in 1930, the jewelry store they opened on the northwest corner of Laura and Adams Streets in the building became Jacobs.
The Thomas family acquired the Jacobs estate in 1987. While they love the historic downtown corner location, Delores Thomas said parking and traffic issues made it difficult to do business.
“Our clients have difficulty reaching us sometimes,” she said. “We are in the process of finalizing the decision for a new site, and once that’s done we’ll let you know…we have plenty of time to do whatever we need to do.”
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The 2.2-ton bronze and black watch is one of 12 watches believed to survive out of only 100 made by Seth Thomas Clock Co. in Connecticut. It was given local prominence, and was removed in 2011 as part of the Laura Street Improvement Project. Sent to the Verdin Co of Cincinnati for restoration, it was set in a new concrete base and deeper in the corner.
Thomas had no comment on the watch regarding the move. She did not confirm where the new Jacobs would be, only that they were “moving out of downtown”. But she said clients “are all in on our plans,” calling it a great opportunity for “the next chapter.”
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