Cummer Museum Woman’s Club Building

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is the Cummer Museum demolishing the Woman's Club building?

A:

The building’s wood interior, including its below-ground 89-year-old wooden foundation and basement, is infested with Formosan subterranean termites, a particularly destructive species that is nearly impossible to eradicate. There are substantial underground colonies in and around the building.

There are ways to treat for Formosan termite infestation, and some have been tried in New Orleans and other cities. However, there is no guarantee the termites will not return, and none of the pest control companies consulted were willing to provide a bond against Formosan termite damage. Re-infestation is a common problem. The Cummer Museum Board of Trustees made the difficult decision that it would be fiscally irresponsible to continue spending money on the renovation project, estimated at $10 million, without any guarantee to cover future damages caused by termites. 


Q: What does this mean for the legacy of the Jacksonville Woman’s Club as a group? Are they still operating?

A:

The Jacksonville Woman’s Club Group has not occupied the building at 861 Riverside Avenue for more than ten years, and the demolition of the former club building in no way diminishes the group’s extensive contributions to the City of Jacksonville. The group is still operating, and since 1927, the Woman’s Club of Jacksonville and the associated chapters have provided leadership in the areas of social, health, educational, and environmental issues, in addition to providing numerous opportunities for self-improvement in the areas of art, literature, drama, foreign languages, and culture. The group continues to have an impact on the city today, funding causes that need attention and doing their good work. We are planning to find a way to commemorate their legacy on our campus going forward, especially appropriate as our founder, Ninah Cummer, was a board member and regular participant in Woman’s Club activities. 


Q: Since the demolition is underway, what is the timeline for completion?

A:

Clay roof tiles have already been salvaged. The building has been tented and fumigated one last time to prevent spreading active infestations to our neighbors. Currently, the historic bricks are being removed. We plan to re-use the salvaged bricks and tiles for our future Garden Learning Center Building, planned for another location on the campus. Next, the wood will be taken offsite to be incinerated at a facility that provides a guarantee of incineration so none of the wood ends up in other places. Then the basement will be filled in, and additional termite bait stations will be placed around the property. We anticipate the project to be completed in mid-October, unless there are any weather delays.  


Q: What is the Cummer Museum doing to memorialize the Woman’s Club building once it is taken down?

A:

The Museum is working with the State of Florida to install a Historic Marker for the property.  


Q: What is the Cummer Museum’s vision for the future of the property? 

A:

  • The Museum is retaining the property and has begun planning for a space to help the Museum fulfill its mission “to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.”
  • The Museum has a broad vision for the next several years that will build upon the recent expansion of community outreach, accessibility for all, quality public programming, and campus improvements.  
  • Our vision for the future continues to include significant investments in the people, spaces, and programs that drive our mission-based focus on art, our gardens, and education. This exciting plan includes the creation of a Garden Greenhouse and Learning Center, the renovation of Art Connections, the creation of two new Galleries, and development of several dedicated program and campus endowments to ensure long-term sustainability.  
  • As part of this vision, the former Woman’s Club building was intended to be the place where public programming and events would take place. Planning is underway for a new building for the same purpose.