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Ormond Beach Mansion | Photo © 2020 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com

R. A. Jackson’s Ormond Beach Mansion

Location Class:
Built: ~1928 | Abandoned: N/A
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: David Bulit

Ormond Beach Mansion Owners

Richard A. Jackson, Attorney

Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Ormond Beach, Florida, this Mediterranean-style, four-bedroom and four-bathroom mansion was built in 1928 and was the winter home of Richard Arbuthnot Jackson. The Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Revival styles became extremely popular throughout Florida during the land boom of the 1920s. Other such examples include the Dania Beach Hotel and Harder Hall.

His death certificate shows he was born September 5, 1857, in Richmond, Indiana, the son of Richard and Anna K. Knott Jackson. After attending Earlham College, he entered law school at the University of Virginia where he earned a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1879. He spent his early years in law in Indiana where he became the prosecuting attorney for Wayne County, Indiana, between 1886 and 1890. He engaged in general practice until 1902.

Jackson was a prominent figure in the railroad industry having been an attorney for several railroads and had been associated with well-known figures such as Otto Herman Kahn, best known for being a partner of Kuhn, Loeb, & Co. who reorganized and consolidated railroads; Edward Henry Harriman, financier and president of both the Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad; and James Jewett Stillman, a businessman who invested in land, banking, and railroads in New York, Texas, and Mexico.

From 1904 to 1909, Jackson was the general solicitor and first vice president of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad. He was also the vice president and general counsel for the Great Northern Railroad from 1910 to 1916, which is when he retired. After retiring, he moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut, and had a winter home constructed in 1928 in Ormond Beach. It was in Ormond Beach where he fell on a slippery and broke his hip, dying less than a week later on April 29, 1934. He left an estate valued at $600,691.

Arthur A. Jones, President of the Grand Union Tea Co.

Following Jackson’s death, his mansion on Ormond Beach was purchased by Arthur Albright Jones, the son of Cyrus Daniel Jones who founded the Grand Union Tea Company, a chain of grocery stores of which Arthur was later president. Arthur Jones was born September 3, 1877, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, and died in 1950 at his home in Ormond Beach and left the home to his wife Alice.

Charles F. Johnson Jr., Car Dealer

Sometimes in the 1950s, the home was sold to Charles Franklin Johnson Jr., the son of Edith Kibler and Charles Franklin Johnson Sr. Johnson’s father owned a string of dealerships in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He went on to invest and own an executive flying service in Atlanta, a rental car company, Thoroughbred farms, and three marine corporations. He also had a fascination with constructing and racing speedboats and even breaking a couple of speedboat records.

Johnson Jr. owned eight Chevrolet dealerships before purchasing the Daytona Marine and Boat Works where his father spent much of his time constructing speedboats. He died in 1990 which is when his wife Margaret Susan Graves inherited the Ormond Beach mansion.

Margaret S. Graves Johnson, Kentucky Colonel

Margaret was born July 1, 1920, in Scottsville Kentucky, the daughter of Dr. Pellie Green and Elmina “Mina” Towe Graves. Her father and uncle were well-known as they had opened a medical practice in Scottsville in 1915, including opening a modern hospital with 15 beds called the Graves Infirmary. Dr. Graves saw patients there and at his home, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and houses the Allen County Historical Society and Museum.

In 1941, Margaret graduated from the University of Louisville and later married Charles Franklin Johnson. In 1956, Kentucky Governor, Albert Benjamin Chandler, commissioned Margaret as a Kentucky Colonel, the most well-known being Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Margaret and Charles lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and Mobile, Alabama, before moving back to Scottsville.

She was a former Volusia County School District substitute teacher and a former volunteer at both the Cornelia Young and Ormond Beach libraries. She served as president of the Daytona Beach Area Panhellenic in 1969, executive board member of the Daytona Beach Friends of the Library, and Senior Advisor for Daytona Beach Children of the American Revolution.

Margaret was also an honorary life member of the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary due to her help in securing the funds to build the original Memorial Hospital in Ormond Beach. She was a member of both the Allen County and Ormond Beach Historical Societies. She lived at the mansion until she died in 2016 wherein it was sold to a professor of oncology in New York the following year.

The mansion has been deteriorating for years, worsened by the lack of maintenance, the salt air, and vandalism. Renovations had been thought to begin on the home at some point with the removal of the overgrowth surrounding the property and the removal of doors and windows, but there it remains rotting away.

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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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