Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Colonel Cay's Carriage House

Have a little history with your haircut?  That's the question posed by the current owners of this historic building in Jacksonville's Riverside.  They operate a hair salon in this carriage house, which is all that remains of the estate of Colonel Raymond Cay who moved to Jacksonville in 1904.  He built a lavish home on Riverside Avenue; the carriage house in the rear of the property faces May Street.


Colonel Cay's Carriage House, 1545 May Street, Jacksonville, Florida, built in 1905, Rutledge Holmes architect.  The Riverside Avenue Mediterranean-style mansion Holmes designed for Cay was torn down during the 1960's after serving for a few years as the home of the Jacksonville Art Center.  The carriage house had been sold separately as a residence; by the 1970's it had become a commercial property and remains one today.  It is the home of the Cecil Vignutti Salon for Hair. 


The carriage house is a solid building of rusticated stone, the same material used in the construction of the main house on Riverside Avenue.  The building was long ago adapted for residential use, with an interior that once accommodated vehicles transformed into living space for people.  The large casement windows in front are an obvious part of this transformation, as this type of window was not used at the turn of the last century.  Yet they seem very much at home and appropriate.   


There's plenty of living space upstairs too, with large windows to bring in lots of light.  The red barrel tile roof is in keeping with the roof of the now demolished mansion that was once part of "The Row", the grand parade of homes on Riverside Avenue in the early part of the 20th century.


This side view shows two tall chimneys and additional windows.  A very interesting profile of the house in the Go Local/Buy Local campaign for local businesses contains much more about the history of Colonel Cay's carriage house.  http://letsgolo.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/how-bout-a-little-history-with-that-haircut/


The carriage house isn't the only thing worth admiring on May Street; there's the street itself, one of the few brick streets extant in Riverside.  Others are Elizabeth Place and Aberdeen Street.  As May Street has never been paved over, the granite curb remains exposed to its original eight to twelve inch height. 


The Augusta Block paving bricks remain in good condition.  We can thank the three co-owner's of the carriage house in 1969 for this.  That year, the road was scheduled to be repaved with asphalt.  Bette Ainsworth, Bonnie Brown, and Karen Haswell stood in the path of the paving machines to prevent this and literally saved this time capsule from our past.


Developers have started to value and respect the integrity of this historic neighborhood.  Across the street from Colonel Cay's Carriage House, 1661 Riverside, a condo/townhouse development, blends in nicely.  I approve. 


I appreciate the details that include street parking paved with brick that comfortably joins the vintage brick of May Street.


Back to the carriage house, the city has recognized it as an historic landmark, as it should.  It's too bad the original house was lost in the '60's, but sometimes you have to pause and be grateful for those buildings that were not demolished. 


My philosophy is that we should always support businesses that preserve and respect our architectural history.  So the Cecil Venutti Salon for Hair gets my vote (and I don't even have that much hair anymore)!


Next time, an interesting mixed use building by Jacksonville's premier woman architect of the early 20th century.

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