Dear Call Box: When I was a teenager, I went a couple of times to a nice hair salon on Church Street downtown. What can you tell me about it?
Dear B.V.: Call it Jacksonville’s version of a Hollywood salon. H. Adair Stylists reigned downtown for 50 years, 25 years on Church and 25 years on Laura Street. At its peak, the beauty shop had 22 hairdressers and 22 avocado green chairs filling up its sprawling 3,500-square-foot space.
Adair Springfield and his wife, Booth Springfield, were the couple who kept the scissors snipping and the hairdressers humming in the elegant salon, which even had a gift shop. The Springfields also owned salons in San Marco and on Roosevelt Boulevard before selling them.
In a Times-Union interview in 2002, Adair Springfield estimated that through the years, at least 120 hairdressers had worked at his downtown institution and that thousands of women had their tresses coiffed there. He said his advice for success was to “Be nice to people and get a good accountant.”
It didn’t hurt that the shop was expansive, stylishly decorated, had a receptionist and at one time, a distinctive large round ottoman.
Springfield was a Greenville, S.C., native who was encouraged to enter the business after doing the hair of female office colleagues he met in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he attended beauty school.
Later, he met Jacksonville stylist Viola Johns at a beauty show in Atlanta, and Johns persuaded him to come to Jacksonville to work for her. He did so for four years.
Then the Springfields opened their own upscale shop on Church, a block from Cohens department store, in February 1952. They were there for 25 years before buying the old Purcell’s Building at Church and Laura. They purchased the seven-story structure from Prudential Insurance Co. and renamed it the H. Adair Mall. They remodeled the 28,000-square-foot first floor, which had been vacant for about a year, in November 1977.
In addition to their salon and gift shop, the lower floor was occupied by such retailers as a record store, a dress shop, Stand ’n’ Snack, a cosmetic studio and travel center. Another 2,000 square feet was available for shops on the mezzanine, according to a 1977 Times-Union story. The upper six stories continued to be operated as a parking garage. The Springfields sold the building in 1981 but stayed on as tenants.
Many clients came in weekly. Juanita Duke, a 50-year customer, was quoted in a 2002 story as saying, “I just love it here.”
Lorene Pryor was quoted in the same story as saying she had been an Adair customer since the mid-1950s. “They give us the style we like, and we like them, too,” she said. “It was like going to a family place.”
Some went for special occasions only. Decades ago, Linda Hanks went there to have her hair frosted for the first time and for her first professional cut as an adult. She remembers the uniforms worn by the stylists and Booth Springfield’s striking silvery platinum hair.
Vicki Bowers said one of the stylists did her hair for her senior picture and for her prom, incorporating a hairpiece. Her mother, Marguerite Joiner, was a client for decades.
One stylist, Doris Griner, worked at Adair’s for 40 years. A wash and set cost $3 when she started in 1961. The same service cost $15 in 2002.
After thriving for most of its existence, business began steadily declining during the last decade, Springfield said in the 2002 story. At the end, he had just five hairdressers working four days a week. He closed the salon Dec. 29, 2001, when the lease expired.
“I can’t think of anything better to do than go out of business at 50,” Springfield said.
Springfield said there were a variety of factors for the salon’s demise, including parking, downtown stores moving to the malls and styles changing so that the need for setting hair under a dryer diminished.
The Springfields also were known for their stylist attire and contemporary Arlington riverfront home. The trim 6-foot-2½ Springfield was named by the Jacksonville Journal to the 10 Best Dressed Men list in 1978. And their tri-level home, designed by architect Taylor Hardwick in 1960, was featured in the Times-Union in 1980.
It was open, airy-looking, had a varied roof line and high ceilings which soared to 20 feet in one area. Inside the front door was a spectacular view of the river through the glass wall in the foyer and living room two steps town. To the right was another seating area with a large curved peach sofa. The dining table and chairs sat on a round platform that seemed to float a couple of inches off the floor, the story said.
A spiral staircase led to a loft where the master bedroom and a mirrored bathroom were located. Off the bedroom was the couple’s art studio. Both were painters, and their home was filled with paintings from artists such as Mun Quan, John McIver and even band leader Xavier Cugat. A peach color scheme dominated from a peach plush carpet to high-backed dining chairs covered with a peach Oriental print. Through the sliding glass doors was a screened 2,000-square-foot pool area with tables and a bar.
Booth Springfield died in 1995 after 48 years of marriage. He died in his sleep in 2009 at age 85. Survivors included his second wife of eight years, Connie, who worked as a stylist at the salon from when she was 17 until it closed.
If you have a question about Jacksonville’s history, call (904) 359-4622 or mail to Call Box, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL 32231. Please include contact information. Photos are also welcome.
Sandy Strickland: (904) 359-4128