In Memory of Melanie MacLean Cross
Efforts to preserve the Norman Studios have been in motion for much longer than many know. In 1993, Melanie MacLean Cross, a passionate preservationist and lifelong Jacksonville resident, founded Old Arlington, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the history, culture and general welfare of Jacksonville’s historic Arlington neighborhood. Melanie’s impetus to start Old Arlington Inc. (OAI) was the Norman Studios property. At the time, its loss seemed imminent. Four of the five Norman buildings had stood empty for years and were in a heartbreaking state of disrepair. Cross was the first to champion the restoration of the Norman property and its return to its glory days-look and a functioning community resource.
Sadly, we lost Melanie in 2008. But her legacy lives on in the continued work of OAI and the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum. Had it not been for her vision and determination, the Norman Studios property might well have been demolished. Instead, this historic property stands poised for a grand comeback. Thanks to Melanie, an important piece of Jacksonville’s history, Florida’s history, African American history and the motion picture industry’s history is saved.