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  Ribault Clubhouse Restoration, Page 26Ribault Clubhouse Restoration
502 E. Ross Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602

2000 Corporate Square Boulevard, #1, Jacksonville, FL 32216

Ft. George Island, Florida
Total Square Feet: 20,300
Construction Period: June 2002 to June 2003

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Atelier AEC, Inc. - 502 E. Ross Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER: A. J. Sanchez Consulting Engineers, Inc. - 3825 Henderson Boulevard, #103, Tampa, FL 33629
MECHANICAL ENGINEER: The Walter Fedy Group, Inc. - 101 W. Main Street, #221, Lakeland, FL 33815
COST ESTIMATOR: Danis Construction, LLC - 2000 Corporate Square Boulevard, #1, Jacksonville, FL 32216

The Ribault Club is a two-story Colonial Revival public facility with Georgian architectural features. The facility has an "H" shaped form that overlooks the Ft. George River northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Designed by architect Maurice Fatio and constructed under the direction of architect Mellon Greeley in 1928, the Club served an elite membership of businessmen, financiers, and industrialists.

Organized in the roaring 1920s, the Ribault Club's membership was eclipsed by the stock market crash in 1929 and later by World War II. Over the years, however, club members enjoyed golf, croquet, boating, fishing, socializing and fine dining in the clubhouse.

During successive ownerships by developers, the building suffered from the ravages of fire, decay and termite damage. The State of Florida acquired most of Ft. George Island in 1989 as part of Ft. George Island Cultural State Park.

In 1996, the Florida Park Service initiated a preservation planning study, funded in part from a preservation grant awarded by the Department of State.

In 1998, with the support of Jacksonville's City Council, the Historic Jacksonville Preservation Commission, and the National Park Service to save the structure, the Florida Park Service appointed local citizens to a "Ribault Clubhouse Task Force" to identify and recommend to FPS the highest and best uses for the clubhouse. During this time the Ribault Club was nominated and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Task Force recommended that a mixed use of recreation, including interpreting natural and cultural resources, public meetings and social events, and educational and research opportunities for local public schools and area universities' could be offered at a well managed public facility. The Ribault Club has today become the gateway to the Timucuan Trail State & National Parks.

A condition assessment of the Ribault Club revealed that the building suffered considerable termite damage concealed in exterior load-bearing walls. Water damage had contributed to wood rot and deterioration of the chimneys. Differential settling of terrazzo floors where foundations were absent had caused floor cracking that was repaired by hydraulically injecting concrete to raise and realign floors. Insufficient roof ventilation was corrected to meet code, and building modifications were made to meet accessibility codes appropriate for historic buildings. Fire-damaged floor, wall and roof structures in the northwest wing were repaired. Windows and many of the French doors damaged by vandals were repaired or replaced. All electrical service was upgraded, deteriorated plumbing was repaired, and HVAC mechanical equipment was installed. An elevator to new upstairs offices and bridal changing room was installed to maximize use of the facility.

The cost of rehabilitating the Ribault Club, with furnishings and site improvements, was less than projected costs.

The Ribault Club held its grand reopening in December 2003, exactly 75 years to the day after the original grand opening. In the several months since the reopening, the Club has been steadily booked for meetings, non-profit events, weddings and corporate retreats. The Club has hosted researchers studying archaeology, and a stream of day-use visitors who enjoy the grounds, visitor center and educational book store.

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