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The Ocean View Hotel

The Ocean View Hotel was located at Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach) along the ocean front at the foot of Putnam Boulevard and Pablo Avenue. Like most grand structures of their time, it burned to the ground in 1926.

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

The Oceanic Hotel

The Oceanic Hotel was located at Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach) along the ocean front. Unlike most grand structures of their time, it did not burn down.

The Oceanic Hotel was torn down in 19__, some items were salvaged. In the Foreman’s House bathroom, a large tall mirror is from the hotel.

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

 

The Murray Hall Hotel

John G. Christopher built the Murray Hall Hotel in 1886 at the oceanfront in Pablo Beach where the Lifeguard Station stands today. He had high hopes of starting a tourist industry to rival that underway in Jacksonville. The hotel was a fabulous three story structure with a tower-like section of six stories in the front. It had a billiard room, bowling alley, bar, reading room, sulphur water spa, a large reception hall, over 50 fireplaces, steam heat, an elevator, and its own plant to supply the hotel’s electricity. Water came from an artesian well, which provided all of Pablo Beach with water until the 1920s.

Antique furnishings, crystal chandeliers, imported lace curtains and heavy drapes were used throughout the hotel. The hotel advertised that it had a capacity for 350 guests. Guests could travel on the newly developed railway, the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad (1885) from South Jacksonville to the oceanfront. Unfortunately the hotel burned after only four years.

The Murray Hall Hotel

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

 

McCormick Hotel and Apartments

McCormick Hotel & Apartments “New Modern, 100% Fireproof, Rooms, suites and Completely furnished Housekeeping Apartments, Open all year.”
Three story, flat-roofed building: 1601 North third St., Jacksonville, Beach, Florida

McCormick Motel Jacksonville Beach 2McCormick Apartment Hotel; 1601 N. 3rd St., A1A Hiway – Jacksonville Beach, Florida
A modern Motor Hotel with all the conveniences of home. Each Apartment has a Kitchen completely equipped. Tile Bath and Shower, 200 yards from World’s finest Beach, Air Conditioned, well heated in winter. TV Equipped. Open year round. Special Winter rates by week, month or season. (Old: phone: Cherry 9-9063)

McCormick Apts “New, modern, completely furnished. 354 apartments, 110 rooms by day, week, month, year. Open all year”
Three story, flat-roofed building.

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

 

The Atlantic Beach Hotel

The first Atlantic Beach HotelThe Atlantic Beach Hotel was the new name given to the Continential Hotel in 1913. Unfortunately it burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in 1919 on September 20th. A new hotel, also named the Atlantic Beach Hotel, soon replaced the wooden structure and remained in operation until the late 1960s. That hotel was quite a bit smaller as can be seen in the second photo below.

After the fire of the Atlantic Beach Hotel in 1919, a few items were salvaged, including adjacent area buildings that did not burn. A sink shaving/vanity mirror salvaged from the servants quarters has been preserved in our Foreman’s House building located here in Pablo History Park.

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

 

The Continental Hotel

In 1900, after purchasing the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway, which ran from South Jacksonville to Pablo Beach, and making it part of his Florida East Coast Railway system, Henry Flagler built the Continental Hotel on the railroad line between Pablo Beach and Mayport. A summer resort, the Continental was a massive colonial yellow building with signature green blinds. The Continental had 250 guest rooms, 56 baths, large parlors, and a huge dining room. Although the exterior was architecturally simple, the interior was considered luxurious. For guests’ enjoyment, there was a 9-hole golf course, a dance pavilion, a fishing pier, tennis courts, and a riding stable. There was a train depot on the west side of the hotel.

The Continental changed names in 1913 to the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Unfortunately it burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in 1919 on September 20th. A new hotel, also named the Atlantic Beach Hotel, soon replaced the wooden structure and remained in operation until the late 1960s. The later hotel was much smaller than the original. Nothing since has ever compared to the grandeur of the Continential Hotel.

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Historic Hotels at the Beaches

 

The Museum

Step back into time. Experience the lives of early river pilots and fishermen, travel down back roads with hardy pioneer settlers, stroll the veranda of a gilded-age seaside resort, frolic on the boardwalk and reminisce about days gone by.

Experience the world of our Beaches pioneers for yourself at the Beaches Museum. Enjoy the interactive, informative, and intriguing look at the area’s heritage through exhibits and firsthand accounts designed to bring the rich history of the Beaches communities to life.

Our First Coast shores enjoy a deep and diverse heritage. Travel back to the past and get to know the people and events that shaped our area at the Beaches Museum.

The museum building houses our exhibits, archives, museum store, and offices. The first floor has two exhibit rooms; one houses the permanent exhibits (Pritchard Gallery), and the other houses our temporary Exhibits (Dickinson Gallery). Our temporary exhibits change periodically – generally every 2 or 3 months, usually with a period in between where there is no temporary exhibit.

Palm Valley

Travis Hayman and Two Deer

Travis Hayman pictured with two deer he killed with one shot in Palm Valley on December 26, 1935

Long before the first Spanish settlers arrived, there was an Indian village in what we call Palm Valley today. Several Indian mounds have been uncovered revealing points, pottery and human skeletons. Early Franciscan missionaries constructed a mission in the area called The Nativity of Our Lady of Tolomato.

By 1703, Don Diego Espinoza had settled in what is today the Palm Valley area. His vast ranch and the surrounding territory was known as Diego Plains. In the 1730s, the ranch was fortified to protect its inhabitants from Indian attack. By 1739, Great Britain and Spain were at war and trouble was brewing for the Diego Plains settlers.

British General James Oglethorpe was commissioned to harass the Spanish settlements south of the colony of Georgia so the Spanish governor fortified the Diego farmhouse which was already being called Fort San Diego. After Oglethorpe’s failure to capture St. Augustine, the Spanish military abandoned Fort San Diego, but other inhabitants moved into the area, living off the land and the cattle.

Cracker Landing

Cracker Landing on west side of Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Valley; dredging the canal, April 1916

In 1908, a canal was dug through Diego Plains connecting the San Pablo River to the north with the Tolomato River near St. Augustine to the south. This intracoastal canal made access to the valley much easier for the residents that had settled in this area. In addition to raising cattle, they farmed, logged, and sold palm fronds to religious groups. The many palm trees growing in the region led some of the settlers to decide on the name Palm Valley for their community.

Prohibition turned some of the valley residents to another source of income – moonshine. The abundant water supply and deep woods areas in the valley were ideal for the concealment of illegal whiskey distilling. The moonshine industry thrived even after the Volstead Act was repealed in 1933, but the rising price of sugar finally brought the illegal whiskey industry to an end.

Deputy Sheriff Everett Heaney

Deputy Sheriff Everett Heaney destroying illegal Still and Equipment in Palm Valley, ca 1955

Palm Valley remained a quiet area of the Beaches, between A1A and U.S. 1. There were many farms where produce and livestock were raised. The development of the Beaches has also affected Palm Valley. Today most farms in the valley have disappeared, opening the land for luxurious residences overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Ponte Vedra Beach

Historic Buckman & Pritchard Sand Plant at Mineral City, ca. 1922

Historic Buckman & Pritchard Sand Plant at Mineral City, ca. 1922

Ponte Vedra Beach has enjoyed a rich 400-year history, with a different flare than the other Beach communities. Since the establishment of St. Augustine by the Spanish in 1565, and the founding of Fort Caroline by the French to the north in 1564, soldiers have traveled the sands of Ponte Vedra Beach vying for a foothold in Northeast Florida.

This area has been rich in rattlesnakes, alligators, mosquitoes, and minerals. The National Lead Company mined for minerals in the sand for years, and at that time there were as many mules as people in Mineral City.

Original Ponte Vedra Country Club

Original Ponte Vedra Country Club – 3-story log cabin, 1935

When it became less profitable to extract minerals from the sand, the National Lead Company brought in the Telfair Stockton Company to begin a real estate development of the site. Since the area was being developed for an affluent clientele, one of the first tasks was to change the name from Mineral City to something with a little more widespread appeal. An article on Ponte Vedra Beach, Spain, and its claim to being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus (inaccurate), swayed the decision. The name Ponte Vedra Beach was chosen. The last vestiges of the mining past were obliterated, the slate cleaned, and Ponte Vedra Beach was on its way!

Benny P. Buza, Jr., O.D. and J. Gallagher, members of U. S. Coast Guard in Ponte Vedra, August 15, 1943

Benny P. Buza, Jr., O.D. and J. Gallagher, members of U. S. Coast Guard in Ponte Vedra, August 15, 1943

The remoteness of the Beaches was still a problem. The developers offered initial buyers deep discounts to encourage development and a small, existing golf course was greatly improved. As residential development increased, the State of Florida completed the road from Jacksonville Beach south to St. Augustine, opening the last segment of the East Coast Scenic Highway. Ponte Vedra Beach was in the conceptual stage in 1928 when the owners of the land actually set up plans for serious development of the area as a resort.

By 1942, National Lead Company sold its interest in Ponte Vedra Beach to the locally driven Ponte Vedra Beach Corporation. The community rapidly developed into a year-round resort community with a substantial permanent population. Today, Ponte Vedra Beach is considered one of the most luxurious recreational and residential locations in the country, offering over 153 holes of golf, 60 tennis courts and miles of fabulous and famous white sand beaches.

Ponte Vedra Beach Timeline

Jacksonville Beach

Cars On Beach

Classic Cars on Jacksonville Beach, 1955

Ruby, Pablo Beach, or Jacksonville Beach – no matter what it has been called, this special place has been the hub of Beaches life since the early days of the 1880s. This was the beach for fun and festivities, of the railroad, and the beach that set the tone for the development of the other beaches. This is the Famous Beach.

In true Florida style, Jacksonville Beach began here with the dream of development: to turn this “oak scrub beach” into the tourist and entertainment hub of the Atlantic Coast. Beginning as a tent city for a few hardy souls, Jacksonville Beach has become a business, resort and residential community able to thrive on change and recognize adversity as an opportunity.

American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps Station

American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps Station, 1940s

In 1884, William and Eleanor Scull set up their tent home at the beach to help survey the area for the coming railroad. Eleanor opened the first general store and post office on the beach, thereby bestowing the name Ruby on the area. The little community grew. In 1899, Henry Flagler purchased the faltering Jacksonville & Atlantic Railroad, converting it to regular gauge and spearheading the development of the area. Some 20 years later, the boardwalk had become a major attraction and the Beaches population grew. Racing, aviation, dancing, eating and frolicking in the waves became hallmarks of Jacksonville Beach!

Jacksonville Beach Pier Boardwalk

Historic Boardwalk and pier, July 4, 1928
Boardwalk and pier, July 4, 1928

Today, the sense of community is very strong here as Jacksonville Beach experiences growing pains. The city is growing vertically with old landmarks being replaced by modern cement “sand castles” and an influx of new residents. The atmosphere is still warm and friendly as a small town would be. The Jacksonville Beach welcome is still strong after some 110 years. Old friend or new friend, we are glad you are here.

Jacksonville Beach
Jacksonville Beach Timeline

Beaches Museum
381 Beach Boulevard
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250