The Bolles School / Formerly The San Jose Hotel
Built in 1925 by Saxelbye & Marsh.
The San Jose Hotel (the Bolles School) is one of the twenty-five remaining structures built as part of San Jose, an elaborate planned community that opened south of Jacksonville during the height of the Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920's. San Jose Estates, the company that developed the neighborhood, contracted with nationally known city planner, John Nolen, to lay out a plan for the new 1,000-acre community which would include residences, hotels, stores, parks, a school, church, and golf course. The focal point for San Jose would be the elaborate hotel to be located along the St. Johns River. A grand boulevard (Central Plaza del Sanchez) lined with shops was planned from the hotel to the real estate company's administration building. The remaining residential streets would radiate out from the hotel and plaza in a pattern of concentric circles.
The Jacksonville architectural firm of Marsh & Saxelbye was commissioned to design several of the larger community buildings and residences, and utilized the popular Mediterranean Revival style, or Spanish Eclectic Style, as a common architectural theme. From “Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage” Dr. Wayne Wood, Author: “In January, 1926, the elegant San Jose Hotel (now The Bolles School) opened with great fanfare as the centerpiece of the development. It was advertised as an "ultra-modern hotel in a picturesque setting superlatively conducive to luxury, ease, and repose." The hotel's towering Spanish architecture reflected San Jose's theme of "a bit of Old Spain in the new world." The Spanish flavor had a historical basis, since San Jose corresponded closely to the 1,135-acre tract granted to Francis Xavier Sanchez by the Spanish government in the late 1700's.” However, as the Florida Land Boom cooled, San Jose Estates began having financial difficulties, and was unable to develop the property as planned. By 1927, the property of San Jose Estates, which included the San Jose Hotel (the Bolles School), the San Jose Country Club, the administration building, and thirty completed and uncompleted houses, were signed over to the Florida National Bank. In 1928, the San Jose Hotel was purchased by Agnes Cain Painter, secretary of the Richard Bolles estate. Also, it was in 1928 that Agnes lured the Florida Military Academy to relocate from Green Cove Springs into the former San Jose Hotel on a rental arrangement, and then in the summer of 1932 the Academy was no longer able to pay the rent and had to vacate the property, relocating to St. Petersburg. Agnes and Roger Painter then proceeded to open The Bolles School on January 5, 1933 with 14 boys.
The San Jose Hotel is recognized as one of the major works of the prolific architectural partnership of William Mulford Marsh and Harold Frederick Saxelbye. The three-story main façade, which runs parallel to the St. Johns School, is framed on each side by a projecting four-story tower. The towers are connected by a colonnade in front of an open courtyard. Three-story wings flare out on each side of the main façade towards the river before connected by a cloistered walkway. Centrally placed along the main façade is an arched entryway articulated with door surrounds, arched casement windows, and decorative pilasters supporting a richly detailed raised parapet. Consistent with its Spanish Eclectic Style, also known as Mediterranean Revival style, the San Jose Hotel is enhanced with abundant cast-stone ornamentation, wrought-iron balconies, barrel tile, and pecky cypress doors and ceiling beams.
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