One of Us

Joy Walker

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Joy Walker is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty and has chaired the Riverside Avondale Preservation Home Tour for the past eight years. It’s the neighborhood she and her husband chose to move to when first coming to Jacksonville from Atlanta, and one she clearly enjoys telling people about.

                                              

This is the eighth time you have served as chair of the RAP House Tour. What are your responsibilities?

My main job is to gather the houses for the home tour. It’s based on a lot of different things. You try to have an assortment of bungalows and the big houses, some businesses and churches and anything that makes it interesting.

This year, we have the oldest home in the Riverside/Avondale district on the tour as well as a brand new construction. So, people can go and see things under construction.

The home tour committee also helps in deciding which homes will be on the tour.

What do people see on the tour?

When they go, they can expect to see some wonderful, interesting properties. One year, we had the Junior League on the home tour not knowing that it was the first Mormon church in Florida. So they get to see things that are interesting. They get to see everything from mansions to churches to bungalows. And we have beautiful churches.

And they get to see our historic district. If they don’t live here in Riverside and Avondale, they definitely get to see the beauty of our community. It’s one of the largest historic districts in the South.

We have people from Savannah who come every year, Lake City, Fernandina, the Beaches.

What prompted you to make your own home in the Riverside/Avondale area?

We came here from Atlanta – from Marietta, in Cobb County – in 1999. The reason we came here was my husband took a job with the St. Joe Company.

We had a great Realtor, and people at work were suggesting the beach and Marsh Landing, Queen’s Harbour. But one day, my husband went to lunch in Avondale on his own, and he called me after lunch and he said, “You won’t believe this neighborhood I found!”

So, I came down again on my fifth trip of looking for houses, and I just fell in love with the Riverside/Avondale area. The beautiful tree-lined streets, the walkability, the parks, the Cummer Museum … I just felt like this is the best neighborhood in Jacksonville.

What makes that area special?

We have the St. Johns River and lots and lots of riverfront, but I think what really sets it apart is the architecture. It’s only one of two nationally recognized historic districts in Jacksonville. And, like I said, it’s one of the largest historic districts in all of the South.

But I think it’s mostly the architectural diversity. We have everything from mansions to bungalows to one of the oldest condos in the state of Florida, and everything in between. The Cummer Museum, great restaurants, the walkability.

It’s truly a neighborhood. I think the majority of homes were built in the ‘20s, early ‘30s. There are no two homes that are alike that I’ve found. It’s just amazing.

I live in Avondale in a 1911 home that was designed by a famous Jacksonville architect. I live in a shingled home that looks like it belongs in New England.

Tell me about your career as a Realtor.

My degree was in elementary education. But I have just always loved architecture. Seeing the outside of houses and how other people lived and why they choose to live there.

I knew we were moving here, and at the time I was a substitute teacher for 10 years at one of the school districts that my children were in.

And I thought I wanted to try and sell real estate when I move. Do something different. And so, when we moved here, I took my classes and got my license and here I am. I’ve had my license for about 20 years. I love it.

I’m thinking, what is it in me that drives me to teach or to be a Realtor or to do the home tour, and I think I just love helping people. Filling a need.

I absolutely love working at Berkshire Hathaway. Great company. Great team support that trickles down from the very top all the way down to everybody working for the company.

It’s just a great company to work for.

How does Northeast Florida stack up to other places?

I think it’s wonderful. When we moved here, I said to my husband, “I don’t want to move any further south than St. Augustine.”

I love the climate. Our younger son, for a while, lived in Fort Myers and Sarasota with beautiful, beautiful cities. But it’s just so hot!

I love the diversity. We have a little bit of that in our weather. The landscaping here is a little different. I’m originally from Kentucky; I kind of like the greenspace.

But I do love our proximity to the beaches and Amelia Island, and the proximity to Savannah and Charleston and up and down our coastline and the west coast of Florida. We’re in the perfect place. It’s just a great place to live.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to spend time with my family, my husband. We have two sons. They both stayed behind in Atlanta and married Atlanta girls. We have five grandchildren. And as much as we can, we are together with them.

And also, we love going to Amelia, just for a day or two. Driving up there. Getting away.

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