San Marco has a new library. It’s on the corner of River Oaks and Fieldston past the home of Justin and Alisan Weakland, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago.
The Weaklands left the Northside and became familiar with San Marco when they came to run or visit San Marco Square.
“We were looking for a family atmosphere,” Alisan said. “We liked the Riverwalk and the Square.”
Justin retired from the Navy in 2019 and now works for Aviation System Engineering Company. Alisan is a neonatal intensive care nurse at UF Health. They have a son and a daughter.
“We wanted to give something back to the community,” Justin said.
They liked the idea of a small library containing books for different ages. People can take a book and leave a book. Justin started talking to fellow Aviation System, Chris Atchison, who is a carpenter.
Typically, a small bookcase is a box on a pole, but Chris wanted to do something more unusual. Justin suggested the library could be a replica of their two-story house. But after more discussion they decided to go with a Harry Potter theme as Alisan is a huge fan of the books.
Chris and his father started working there before Christmas.
“We didn’t have a plan, so we just went with the flow,” Chris said.
Boxes are made with furniture wood waterproofed with multiple coats of Flex Seal. For texture, sand was mixed with Flex Seal. The base stone work was done with Green Energy spray foam, the most commonly used for insulation. Moss can be sculpted. Completed boxes were sealed with Flex Seal and painted with latex paint. The result is a turreted castle with interior and exterior lighting that can change color.
“It’s definitely bigger than your usual small library,” Alisan said. “But it’s magic. It captures your imagination, what books do.
Justin said they were planning to decorate it for the holidays. The Weaklands are already known for their decorations. They make elaborate light shows for Halloween and Christmas.
Justin is also involved with the Jacksonville Naval Museum, which recently brought the USS Orleck to town to serve as a floating downtown naval museum. And they also have a website, Hidden Jacksonville, hiddenjacksonville.com. It promotes lesser-known parts of Jacksonville as well as local artists, businesses, and nonprofits.
“We wanted to give people a different perspective, to tell them about things they might not have seen,” Justin said. “It’s meant to be a conversation starter, to give people a sense of belonging.”
By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News