Northeast Florida has a lot of musical history people are well aware of: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, Molly Hatchet, JJ Grey & Mofro,.38 Special and Yellowcard just to name a few. Not as well known, however, is Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Allman Brothers formed here too.
When the band was starting out in Jacksonville in the late 1960s, they lived in a home called the Green House in Riverside, which still stands today. The Green House was home to the band before they were famous and was purchased in the 1970s by the Brown family. Current owner Ruth Brown, who was unaware of the home’s place in music history, fondly remembers moving in with her husband and noticing mattresses on the wall. As she later learned, the mattresses were used as soundproofing material for the bands that previously practiced within the house.
Brown is now 95 years old and selling the house to move into a retirement facility.
“So many interesting people lived there and went on to have successful lives. I felt like I too had a successful life there,” she said. “It was time to let someone else come in and preserve it and continue the story for years to come.”
According to Alexandra Brown of Cowford Realty, the home is significant for its place in music history, though most locals don’t even know of its existence. “If you’re an Allman Brothers Band fan, you’ve probably already made your way by the historic site. For others, it’s one of Riverside’s best kept secrets,” she
said. “From 1968-1969 various members of the Second Coming lived and made music in this house. They would soon become The Allman Brothers Band, and the rest is history!”
Since the house has been on the market, Alexandra said, it has been getting a lot of publicity, even attracting the attention of Devon Allman, son of founding member Gregg Allman. Devon reached out to her to discuss the home his father and bandmates used to jam out in.
“Selling this house is an honor,” Alexandra said. “[Ruth] had great faith in my ability and that gave me the confidence to get the job done.”
Even though it does not have any visible recognition of its place in music history, the Green House is mentioned in an official historical marker nearby. The plaque stands in front of a home one block away, dubbed the Gray House, where band members also lived and jammed. Alexandra noted the Green House doesn’t have a similar marker, as the Browns never requested one.
Looking back on the 50-plus years Ruth has owned the house, she said random people would stop by and inquire about the house. They became “almost like friends [and] looked forward to seeing them.” There is also a bicycle tour that stops at the house and discusses its historical significance.
The fact that the house is still standing is worth noting itself. In the ’80s, a fire that started in a second building on the property, which spread to nearby trees and eventually the Browns’ house.
“The roof collapsed and made the second story collapse on top of the first [story],” Ruth recalled. “Everything was blackness, black burned everything, everywhere.” The house was condemned by the city, and Ruth and her late husband Ed were forced to stay in an apartment in Baymeadows while they contemplated the fate of their home. They both decided to rebuild the house from the “floor up.” Fortunately, Ed was a carpenter and rebuilt the kitchen, and by 1987, she said, it was completely rebuilt to code. She also was able to find and restore copper pots they received as a wedding present from the kitchen, and she still uses them to this day.
Besides the significance as the Allman Brothers’ residence, the Green House is also a place the Browns called home. Ruth owned a daycare and remembers allowing the children to come to the house on field trips. A lot of those children graduated from Riverside High School, she said, and still keep in touch with her today.
More than 50 years later, the house is still painted green, and walking inside, one can almost envision the bands jamming out in the living room. The dining room is adorned with a large mirror which has a perfect image of the house etched in the corner. Upstairs there is a beautiful stained glass window with green glass framed in red and a white flower in the middle that lets in just the perfect amount of light. The 3,000-square-foot Victorian-style house has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a detached outbuilding and was built in the early 1900s.
Most of the original members of the Allman Brothers band, including brothers Duane and Gregg, are now deceased, but their songs and legacy still lives on, in part, because of the Green House. But as Ruth’s time in the Green House is coming to a close after half a century, she wants her home to be remembered for its uniqueness and how her family protected its place in music history.
“After the fire, we had to decide to restore the home or take it down. I guess, our legacy, Ed and I, would be conservation of the home,” she said,” preserving its interesting past and its architectural beauty for the neighborhood to enjoy or the generation to come after us. History takes many years to build and only an instant to disappear. We didn’t want that to happen.”