Honoring the Jessie Ball duPont Center

By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern

Photo Credit: Jessie duPont Fund
Photo Credit: Jessie duPont Fund

Since the first National Woman’s Week in 1981, the United States has dedicated the month of March to honor and appreciate powerful women who changed the course of history and led us to a contemporary society. We celebrate all facets of achievements by women – including contributions to history, society and culture. We’d like to take a moment to recognize the Jessie Ball duPont Center in #DTJax for Women’s History month this year.

In order to understand the history behind the Jessie Ball duPont Center, we must understand Jessie Ball duPont. A teacher, philanthropist and “Great Floridian” – duPont was born in Virginia in 1884. Throughout her life, she focused on business and charitable activities central to her core values and beliefs.

Some of these contributions include:

  • Founder of the Nemours Foundation – a children’s hospital in Delaware, including a branch just south of #DTJax
  • Founder of Alfred I. duPont Foundation – to assist underpriviledged people in Delaware, Florida and Virgina
  • Founder of the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation – to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of broadcast journalism
  • Gifted colleges and universities with faculty salaries and libraries

When duPont died in 1970, she left her will and estate of $42 million for the creation of the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation. The foundation grants eligible organizations, creates new opportunities through investment and focuses on projects central to duPont’s philanthropic values.

Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center
Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

Originally the Haydon Burns Public Library designed by notable Jacksonville architect Taylor Hardwick, the Jessie duPont Foundation purchased this historic mid-century building in #DTJax in 2005 and began a $25-million renovation to transform the space into the Jessie Ball duPont Center. The center focuses on philanthropy and non-profits in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville.

The duPont Center’s achievements include:

  • Houses 12 local non-profits and more than 200 employees
  • Offers low occupancy costs to non-profits to allow more funding to ideas and revitalization
  • Utilized green-building and LEED certified practices throughout the renovation, and became a top case study for adaptive reuse in #DTJax
  • Unites local non-profits in a collaborative and inspiring environment
Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center
Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

The center also rents out space for community organizations, civic groups and individuals. To learn more about reservations, tenants or how to get involved, check the website here.

On March 19, The Jessie Ball duPont Fund received the Downtown Achievement Award of the year for 2016 at DVI’s inaugural Urban Oasis Gala. We are looking forward to seeing new innovations, ideas and energy from local non-profits to better #DTJax from the revitalization of this mid-century historic building into the Jessie Ball duPont Center.