INTRODUCING “Jax Evolved,” a series of articles dedicated to historic buildings in Jacksonville that have been preserved and repurposed into a new use.
Sweet Pete’s location just north of Hemming Park is a fantastic spot, with the building routinely drawing sizable crowds.
It’s crazy to think that, up until a few years ago, that building laid empty and out of use.
The building, which Sweet Pete’s took over in 2014, had sat vacant since 2004.
Its longest-running tenant, the Seminole Club, last made an unsuccessful attempt at a revival in 1998. The club had previously shut down in 1989.
In its heyday, the Seminole Club was seen as an elite social club for Jacksonville men; it was described by members as being like a fraternity. The club was formed in 1887 and opened in its building at 400 N. Hogan Street in 1903. The building was constructed at a cost of $25,000.
They later renovated the building to add a third floor with rooms described as being “for bachelors”.
Membership was exclusive but still numbered in the hundreds. It was all men; women weren’t allowed to join until about a year before it shut down. The interior featured a full bar and a basketball court. Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy spoke from the building’s balcony on campaign stops.
After years of operation, the club eventually shut down for good in 1989, with the exception of that one comeback attempt. The building was designated by the city to be preserved as a historic structure around a decade ago as it sat vacant.
In 2014, Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’s “The Profit” partnered with Sweet Pete’s to purchase and renovate the historic building into a massive confectionary shop. The design for the store was created by New York-based Maximum Impact.
The renovation cost $2.3 million and included about 23,000 square feet of space. The finished product is one of the largest candy stores you’ll ever see, right in the heart of downtown.
The re-use of the old Seminole Club building by Sweet Pete’s, and its subsequent success, proves the value of restoring and repurposing Jacksonville’s historic properties.