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King Solomon River House

King Solomon Rathel River House

Location Class:
Built: 1946 | Abandoned: Unknown
Status: Private Property

King Solomon Rathel and Marvel Funderburk

King Solomon Rathel was born to Martin and Mary Rathel on September 30, 1895, in Donalsonville, Georgia. Family members are listed as “Rathel” in some documents, while others are listed as “Rayfield.” King had a daughter named Lois from a previous marriage to Macy Cross, although there wasn’t much information found about her.

Marvel Funderburk was born on August 9, 1892, in Donalsonville, Georgia, to Robert Sample Beauregard Funderburk and Talula Adel “Lula” Mosely Funderburk. Marvel was the eldest among two girls and three boys. The town, named after John Ernest Donalson, who owned a lumber mill, serves as the county seat of Seminole County, the southwesternmost county in Georgia.

In the mid-1910s, Marvel and King Solomon Rathel married. Three years younger than Marvel, King received education only up to the fifth grade, while Marvel completed high school. During this period, King worked as a blacksmith for Josh Floyd Jr. In the final months of World War I, King was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1918, serving until his discharge on February 19, 1919.

According to city directories, the Rathels came to Jacksonville, Florida, sometime around 1926. The couple resided in a former brothel converted into a rooming house on Ward Street, less than a block from the W.P. Sumner Company building. King was employed at W.C. Rivers Carriage Company, specializing in auto body building, repairs, trimming, painting, welding, and blacksmithing. By 1930, King Solomon Rathel’s occupation was in “sheet metal” and “odd jobs,” and the couple had relocated from LaVilla to a residence north of town on Lem Turner Road.

The Rathels, Self-Taught Architects

Despite not finishing high school or receiving formal training in the field, the Rathels acquired land along the Trout River and built at least 15 masonry Art Deco houses between 1935 and 1971. These houses share common design characteristics, including rounded corners, stucco exterior finishes, flat roofs, and decorative yet functional drain pipes.

Most of the homes are located along Trout River Boulevard and Winston Street, with a few in nearby Riverview. 3319 Trout River Boulevard was the Rathels’ first house, completed in 1935. The couple lived for several years at 3262 Trout River Boulevard, another home of their design, completed in 1944.

7640 Pickett Street, completed in 1971, was the last house built by the Rathels. The couple resided here until they moved back to Donalsonville, Georgia. King Solomon Rathel died on July 19, 1976, and Marvel on February 8, 1983. Both were buried together in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.

The River House was built in 1946, tucked away far back from Trout River Boulevard beyond a narrow, unpaved drive through a tunnel of trees. Due to its location, the home has suffered extensive water damage from tidal surges and flooding. The house was put on the market in March 2024 and sold less than a month later for $212,000.

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David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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