The Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center is a unique venue that offers unconventional beauty in a setting of grand, historic architecture. The building is the only southern railroad station that has been converted into a state-of-the-art convention center. With 265,000 square feet of space, the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center is large enough and versatile enough to accommodate gatherings of virtually any size.
Many rail passengers used to make tracks through Jacksonville via the Jacksonville Terminal. Modeled after New York’s Pennsylvania Station, Jacksonville Terminal actually ranked as the South’s largest station when completed in 1919. The facility hummed with activity during the Florida Land Boom of the Twenties, and it once handled as many as 142 trains and 20,000 passengers a day. The switch engines kept busy, dropping, adding, or trading various diners, coaches and sleeping cars. Part of a passenger train might continue in one direction, while its other sections went elsewhere. Such legends as the Orange Blossom Special made regular stops. On January 3, 1974, however, the last passenger train finally rolled out of the venerable old station.
A steam locomotive, with a tender car, sits in the middle of a parking lot at the Prime Osborn Center. This large engine was built in Richmond, Virginia, to haul troops during World War I. Although the conflict ended before the vehicle could do its military duty, it ended up as the pride of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Locomotive 1504 pulled premier passenger trains in & out of Florida, exceeding 70 mph on wheels taller than an adult. After its retirement in December 1953, the engine stood in front of the Atlantic Coast Line Building (later CSX) from 1960 to 1986. The vehicle was finally donated to the City of Jacksonville, which refurbished it and gave it a new home at the Prime Osborn.