by Maura Wolfson-Foster
About the Book
This is just a small tribute to the friendship I have developed with The Whetstones, since February, 2009. It began with my curiousity about the strange & wonderful buildings, located off of North Jefferson Street, in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Having driven past numerous times, this day, I decided to get out of my car, to take some photos. After about 15 minutes of walking and shooting, a slender man with blue eyes, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, came out from the wrought-iron gate, and invited me inside. As we were walking into the largest building, a woman drove up, whom he introduced as his wife, Dorothy. Walter showed me around the first floor of what used to be called "The Stardust Lounge". There was a pool room, a commercial kitchen, a bar, with space for a restaurant ... Ray Charles was a frequent visitor. The ceilings are lined with copper, the walls embedded with multi-coloured bottles, paintings hanging from the rafters - thanks to Walter's craftsmanship.. It seems the Whetstones purchased the property 15 years ago, as it was going to be condemned/demolished (The Atlanta Life Insurance building stood next door). Built in 1927, one can only imagine the lives passing through these halls. Walter asked Dorothy to show me the rest of the place. I followed her up the narrow wooden staircase. There were six pairs of men's cowboy boots lining the bottom. During the Stardust years, the bedrooms were used by "ladies" to entertain their gentlemen callers, for an hour, or so. When Walter and Dorothy moved in, they added an upstairs kitchen, opened some rooms to make a master suite, complete with an inlaid marble bathtub, then went on to build a winding stairway to the stars ....