Haskell Co. founder pledges $400,000 for Jacksonville Historical Society project

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Casket factory
The casket factory adjacent to the Florida Historical Society building (below) -- Google Street View

Preston Haskell, founder of the Jacksonville-based global architecture, engineering and construction firm Haskell Co., has pledged $400,000 to establish the Haskell Archive at the Casket Factory near the city’s downtown sports complex.

The gift will support renovation of the second floor of the three-story structure at 318 Palmetto St., built in 1920 next to the former St. Luke’s Hospital. That structure houses the Jacksonville Historical Society.

“This is an extraordinary event in the life of this organization, and indeed in the work of public history in this city,” historical society CEO Alan Bliss said in a news release.

“I am aware of no previous gift of similar scale that was aimed at the preservation and public representation of Jacksonville’s history. In the 92-year existence of the JHS, Mr. Haskell’s donation will be the largest single monetary gift to date.”

The nonprofit society also received a $50,000 gift from the Clifford and LaVonne Graese Foundation, also intended for the renovation of the Florida Casket Co. building, the Jacksonville Daily Record (JDR) reported.

The foundation’s president, Diane Graese, directed the donation, noting that the organization does not accept grant requests.

Bliss said both Graese and Haskell’s support for the work of the Jacksonville Historical Society “is a resounding vote of confidence in the value of history, and the work that we do. We are honored, as well as inspired, by these actions.”

The next steps for the project include review and approval of the build-out plan and application for building permits.

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