Dr. Wayne Wood

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writer / historian / optometrist

Widely regarded as one of the foremost chroniclers of Duval County’s history and architecture, Wayne has been called “the undisputed godfather of preservation in Jacksonville.” After getting a degree in English from Emory University and a Doctorate of Optometry from the University of Houston, he came to Jacksonville in 1971. Three years later he founded Riverside Avondale Preservation, Inc., which has grown to be one of the largest neighborhood preservation groups in the South. In 1975 he was appointed to the Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission. He served consecutively on this Commission longer than any other member, including three years as chairman. 

Wayne is also the founder and chief instigator of the Riverside Arts Market (RAM), a massive weekend marketplace for artists, local farmers and entertainers. It has become Florida’s largest free weekly arts and entertainment venue, and it drew over a half million people in its first year of operation in 2009. He worked over 15 years in the planning and development of this project. 

Wayne has published thirteen books about Jacksonville’s history. His best-known work is the classic Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future. This 424-page volume has won numerous awards and is in its fourth printing. It is Jacksonville’s all-time local best-selling book and is believed to be on more coffee tables than any other book in Florida.

He has presented over a thousand lectures and programs on the history of Northeast Florida and has served on the board of directors of the Jacksonville Historical Society for 12 years. He also has served on the boards of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, and the Jacksonville Fire Museum. Wayne is the founder and the president of Friends of Hemming Park, an ambitious nonprofit initiative to revitalize Jacksonville’s oldest and most prominent urban park.

In addition to being a writer and historian, Wayne was an optometrist and now retired from private practice. In 2010 he was selected as one of the “Top Twenty Change Agents” in Northeast Florida by the Florida Times-Union, and he was the recipient of the Arts Volunteer of the Year award. He received the Tourism Advocate Award from Visit Jacksonville and the Community Service Award from the Jacksonville City Council. Jacksonville Magazine named him one of the “50 Most Influential People in Northeast Florida.” and Folio Weekly called him “The Most Interesting Man in Jacksonville.”