By Barbara Wingo
Fans and friends of Norman Studios will recognize the Wardrobe Cottage on the Studios campus as the “Junction Lunch” appearing in the motion picture The Flying Ace. With tall thin windows on all four walls it is one of the most recognizable and unique Norman Studios buildings. If lit from the inside at night, it has been called the shining jewel of the complex.
As readers of this website know, the City of Jacksonville appropriated the first $1,000,0000 for beginning the interior construction of the Production Building (the main building facing Arlington Road). Another $1,000,000 is designated in a new Capital Improvement Plan in the 2022-2023 budget, which should intersect with this phase to complete the museum construction. During the construction and development of the museum, Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc. (NSSFM) desires to complete the Wardrobe Cottage as an office and visitor’s center, providing a location for exhibits concerning the African-American actors in Norman Studios films as well as a headquarters for continued outreach to complete the rest of the campus.
NSSFM is one of 50 finalists for a grant from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Up to 20 final applications will be selected. We are seeking a $75,000 construction grant to renovate the Wardrobe Cottage. Since the total cost of the construction will be $150, 000, we must match the $75,000 to complete the interior of the gutted Wardrobe Cottage. The Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida will make a donation to help us reach the project goal of $75,000 if we are awarded the grant. Mrs. Weaver cares deeply about preserving Jacksonville’s heritage projects, such as Norman Studios, which represents one of Northeast Florida’s most important African American cultural assets. She has been a catalyst for many preservation, environmental and social projects in Jacksonville and Florida.
At the same time and even if we do not receive this National Trust grant, our campaign will continue to unfold as we move toward installing exhibits and completing the campus renovations, including the Properties Garage as a community events facility and the Generator Building. Each one houses an antique generator, which provided power for the campus until 1939. Other fascinating vintage elements in the museum are the tin-lined projection room, the screening room, and a room-sized vault to protect the nitrate films from combusting and destroying the Studios. Additionally, we hope to reunite the original Studios by purchasing the Stage Set Building property which boasts a water feature filled with artifacts, buried by the purchaser of the Studios in 197. All this history is set in a lovely park scheduled to become a trailhead for the East Coast Greenway. The ultimate goal is to create an international silent film attraction.
The Wardrobe Cottage renovation project is integral to the Norman Studios museum and education center that will tell the stories of Jacksonville as the Winter Film Capital of the World, Richard Norman, African-American actors, and race films. Click the DONATE NOW button on our home page and give NSSFM a donation to support the necessary renovation of this jewel on our campus as well as the many other projects that will make the Norman Studios an internationally-recognized film destination. You may also send a check payable to “Norman Studios” to P. O. Box 8039, Jacksonville, FL 32239.
Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc., is a Section 501(c)3 organization. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE FLORIDA DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. The toll-free number of the department is 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), calling within the state of Florida, or (850) 410-3800, calling from outside of Florida. The department’s website is www.800helpfla.com.