Napier (Wilkie) Apartments
Henry John Klutho, 1923
In 1923 Klutho designed the Napier Apartments on Riverside Avenue. This design in dark red brick trimmed in cast stone slightly resembles the Kenna Apartments building in Chicago designed by architect Barry Byrne, formerly with Wright’s studio. Byrne’s building was designed in 1916 but was not published in The Western Architect until 1924. By the mid-1920s the Prairie style was generally out of fashion, but this building presents an intriguing reminder of Klutho’s earlier work with tiny bursts of Sullivanesque ornament terminating the cast-stone fillets that run full height at corner walls, demonstrating how to decisively detail brick coursing that intersects at angles greater than 90 degreessomething Byrne did not solve in his design. The reserved Sullivanesque decorations are reminiscent of the great terra-cotta scrollwork on the St. James Building, which had been the masterpiece of Klutho's career some twelve years earlier.
Prior to its completion, this apartment building was intended to be a four-unit co-op apartment, which would have made it one of Florida’s earliest condominiums. Leslie Napier Wilkie was the developer of the building, but when his three partners backed out of the project, he kept one large unit for himself and subdivided the others into smaller apartments as they are now. Klutho referred to this building as the "Wilkie Apartments," possibly because the stone tablet on the middle of the facade misspelled Wilkie's middle name as “Nadier” instead of “Napier.”
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as part of the Riverside Historic District.
Photos by Wayne W. Wood.
• Broward, Robert C.: The Architecture of Henry John Klutho: The Prairie School in Jacksonville. Jacksonville, Florida: The Jacksonville Historical Society, 2003.
• Wood, Wayne W.: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 1996.
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