Written by Cleve Powell
Originally published in the April 2005 edition of the OAI Newsletter

Those of you who were fortunate enough to hear Don MacLean’s history of Arlington at our April meeting heard him mention the free health clinics established at the Community Club in the 50s. There was a children’s clinic and a dental clinic that was started by DDS Paul Wilcox and DDS Donald Sitterson. Sadly, Dr. Wilcox died in a plane crash near Palatka two days after our meeting. Because of this, in Dr. Wilcox’s honor, I am going to try and give a little history of the medical services available to Arlington residents through the years. I don’t have much time for research so when you read this and remember things I may omit, please contact me and I’ll add information for our archives.

I believe that in the early plantation days, the only doctors available to the Arlington area were in Jacksonville. This meant crossing the river by boat or, in one case, a Dr. A. S. Baldwin in the mid to late 1800s used to row a boat up and down the river to tend to his patients. Dr. Baldwin lived in Jacksonville. Dr. Auburn Thomas Cuzner lived in Gilmore and treated Mr. Wm. Hawley (author of the Arlingtonian) during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888. Mr. Hawley later married Dr. Cuzner’s daughter, Eve, and moved to Gilmore. From a conversation with Mrs. Shirley Hawley on April 29, 2007, I believe that Dr. Cuzner may have been a surgeon during the Civil War. He was originally from England and came to Arlington by way of New York State. He bought twenty acres on the river where he built a home which was also his office. Mrs. Hawley said he was the only doctor between Mayport and Jacksonville and practiced on both sides of the river. He was a pioneer in cancer research, planted many herbs and fruit trees looking for a cure, and wrote a book, including diagrams, on their effects. He was also an artist. Dr. Cuzner is buried in the Gilmore Cemetery.

After the Arlington Ferry opened ca. 1914, access to Fairfield and downtown Jacksonville simplified getting medical attention. SaintXLuke’s Hospital opened on Palmetto Street in 1878 and moved to Springfield in 1914. A U. S. hospital called the “Marine Hospital” for sick and penniless mariners opened in Fairfield prior to 1885. The Brewster Hospital for black families opened on West Monroe in 1885 and moved to a larger facility in 1910, closing in 1966. The Riverside Hospital near Five Points opened in the early 1900s and SaintXVincents opened in 1916. Hope Haven on Atlantic opened prior to WW II primarily to treat polio victims. They expanded to treating all diseases, especially orthopedic problems. I received some welcomed therapy there myself in 1956.

My earliest memories of doctors, and pharmacies all centered around South Jacksonville. After ferry service ended for good ca. 1941 it was the most accessible part of “town” for Arlingtonians. Our family doctor was Dr. Lamb whose office, I believe, was on Landon Avenue just west of Miami Road. What is amazing is that he made house calls to our house on Lone Star when it was a not-too-accessible dirt road. Other doctors’ names that I remember in South Jacksonville were Dr. Palmer and Dr. Veal. Our dentist was, I believe, Dr. Greene on the fourth floor of Cohen Brothers downtown. Per Richard Steeves, the closest pharmacy was Times Square Pharmacy at Atlantic and Miami Road. Later Preston opened a drugstore at the “SaintXNicholas” shopping center where Atlantic and Beach split. Preston eventually moved to Atlantic Boulevard and University.

To put it in perspective, the Arlington Lions Club Directory of Arlington ca. 1952 had a section called “Classified Directory Index” listing categories such as Ambulance Service, which was Key McCabe Funeral home on West Church Street, and Opticians, which was Charles E. Ray on Hendricks Ave. in South Jacksonville. There were fifty plus categories and no doctors or drugstores listed. So like so many other things, the medical profession came to Arlington with the opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953.

Dr. Paul Wilcox’s obituary stated that he opened his office in Arlington in 1954 and practiced for 54 years. I believe he was the first dentist in the Arlington area and one of the first doctors of any kind. I will take this opportunity to say that he was a great asset to Arlington in many ways. Dr. W. B. Parkin, Jr. followed Dr. Wilcox in the dentistry field and had an office at 6504 Arlington Road. Dr. Donald Sitterson’s office was at 6224 Arlington Road near Norman Studios.

As to physicians who came to Arlington in this time frame, Dr. John Shackleton was, I believe, the first. He opened his practice on Arlington Road ca. 1953 next to the original Turner’s Hardware and then built an office across from Norman Studios on a side road that now bears his name. He was a general physician who also a surgeon. Dr. William Clarke, who is a member of our Old Arlington, Inc. group, started his practice on September 1, 1957, in the space vacated by Dr. Shackleton and has practiced medicine in Arlington for over 50 years. He was J. U.’s first doctor and was the first doctor in Jacksonville to have a desegregated practice. He later moved to a facility on University Boulevard, which he shared with Doctor A. E. Anderson.

Dr. J. W. Hendrick was an obstetrician who I’m told made house calls and often parked on a hill so he could push his car in case it didn’t start. He started out on University Boulevard and later moved to 819 Townsend Boulevard. He was later joined by Dr. Fisher, Dr. Jonas and and Dr. Platock. Their group is still practicing by Memorial Hospital. Dr. A. E. Anderson was a cardiologist and lung specialist but would treat other ailments and had a Corvette that he used to drag race on the weekends. I saw him once for a slight hernia and he told me to treat it like a “slipping clutch” for a month and not task it too heavily. Dr. Anderson moved his office to the Baptist Hospital area.

Dr. Houston was a podiatrist. Dr. Lester was mentioned by Dr. Clarke as assuring him there was plenty of business all in Arlington from whom Dr. Ted Montgomery took his place. Dr. Montgomery I believe now specializes in diabetes at Memorial Hospital.

I believe there was a chiropractor whose last name was Horseley who had an office on Rogero. The first pediatrician was Dr. Lane, who had an office on Shackleton Road. Dr. Grace Hardy was also a pediatrician and had an office at 5677 Colcord Avenue.Dr. Hardy was instrumental in starting the “Tree Hill” movement. They were followed by a children’s group that operated out of Hope Haven Hospital in the early 60s and Dr. Skinner was the founder; it became Skinner and Walker with an office on Atlantic Circle.

Dr. W. P. Booras and Dr. Wm. Masters opened an office at 2732 Trollie Laneand took over JU’s medical needs. He also took on several partners.

As to the drug stores in Arlington I believe the first was Dixon’s drugs, which was run by Herb Weinstien next to the “Clip Joint”. It later became Paul’s Sundries. Weinstein opened the Arlington Pharmacy on the corner of University and Commerce. Later there was the Fort Caroline Pharmacy at 1492 University BoulevardAfter that I believe was Griffins Drug Store, which became Sam Lawler’s Pharmacy, at 1535 University Boulevard.

Jack Young had a veterinarian hospital on Atlantic Boulevard called Lake Tresca Animal Hospital. Prior to that there was a vet from South Jacksonville that made house calls.

There was a nursing home on Atlantic Boulevard at Acme Street that I believe was opened by the Cheshire family ca. 1940. There was also the Ft. Caroline nursing home.

Hardage and Son’s Funeral Home moved in to the vacant church building on Arlington Road across from Turner’s and Clarke’s office ca. 1956 and also provided ambulance service (separate vehicles from the hearse). This takes us to the early 60s and the end for now.