Helping to create a Jacksonville landmark

A trusted estate planning advisor to the Cummer family, John W. Donahoo was asked by the family to serve as the first chairman of the board of directors of the DeEtte Holden Cummer Museum Foundation. Established soon after Ninah Cummer’s death in 1958, the Foundation was named to honor her and her husband’s only child, who died soon after birth.

In line with Mrs. Cummer’s wishes to create an art museum, Mr. Donahoo oversaw the razing of the Cummer residence at 829 Riverside Avenue and the construction of a new facility. Acting as more of an architect than an attorney, he toured museums throughout New York and Paris for design ideas. In November 1961, at a cost of $1 million, the new Cummer Gallery of Art, now known as The Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens, termed “the jewel of museums,” was dedicated in front of 1,000 guests and foundation trustees.

Entrusted with Mrs. Cummer’s personal collection and philanthropic intent, John Donahoo and the foundation fulfilled what she had written in her will: “This foundation is created in the full knowledge the bequest and endowment will make only a small beginning toward a large vision, but it is created also in the hope that others will share this vision and by their interest and contributions will help to establish a center of beauty and culture worthy of this community.”

Today, Mrs. Cummer’s original 60-piece collection has grown to more than 5,000 works and 1.5 acres of historic gardens, enjoyed by thousands annually. Please visit