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2: Pablo Beach, 1886-1907

<< 1: The Setting || 3: Pablo Beach, 1907-25 >>

Figure 2-1 Sunrise

As the sun peeked over the eastern horizon in the morning, the sky glowed pink, yellow, and orange. Waves lapped the shore. Serene, the beach scene calmed the human heart. The beauty existed long before humans came to enjoy it. The beach seemed to be the “World’s Finest Beach," at least to some.
A railroad created a town. It allowed people and goods to get to the ocean shore cheaply and quickly when cars and, later, trucks were rare or expensive. People in Jacksonville could and did establish summer residences. “Eagledune,” the L’Engle-Barnett house was built in 1887 was one of a dozen houses scattered near the railroad terminal. George Wilson, W. A. MacDuff, S. B. Hubbard, P. McQuaid, J. W. Shoemaker, and others had houses. Tom Cashen was one of the early residents of Pablo Beach but built a house on the oceanfront away from the others in what is now Neptune Beach. General Francis Spinner, former U.S. Treasurer, lived at Pablo Beach in a tent for about two years—1885-87—because he said it was good for his health. Spinner was the father-in-law of Shoemaker, the first cashier of the First National Bank of Florida. By 1895, Jacksonville residents had summer cottages there.1
The City of Jacksonville only had 7,650 persons in 1880 but it grew rapidly in the 1880s and had 17,201 in 1890, a 125% increase.2 Its economic diversity and wealth increased as well. The largest city in the state, it housed the U.S. District Court, a customs house, and the other paraphernalia of the most important city in the state . Naval stores and lumber were important exports. Citrus fruits were important. The city had three daily newspapers. Winter tourists flocked to the city. Some enjoyed steamboat excursions on the St. Johns and Oklawaha Rivers. Entrepreneurs saw the ocean front as another possible tourist destination and tourism from Jacksonville quickly became a major source of employment and cause for settlement at the beaches, first in Pablo Beach, later in Atlantic Beach. Even Mayport and its immediate area was the site of tourism development.
Pablo Beach tourism began when John G. Christopher and his wife built the fabulous Murray Hall Hotel in 1886 and equipped it for $150,000 dollars. Located a block from the ocean at what is now the corner of First Street North and Beach Boulevard, its 200-350 guests enjoyed fireplaces, water from its own artesian wells, and electricity generated by the hotel’s power plant. The three-story building had turrets and porches. As the image below indicates, it was luxurious.

Figure 2-2 Murray Hall Hotel Ad

The Murray Hall quickly became the center of Pablo Beach even before it was finished. On July 2-5, 1886, state troops encamped at Pablo Beach.3 Eleanor Scull reported that the post office was moved from her tent in September to the hotel and the manager, Charles H.French, became postmaster.4
As people moved to Pablo, churches were established to meet their spiritual needs. In 1886, St Paul’s-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church was created by congregants who met in the Murray Hall Hotel. The land was donated by the J & A Railroad in 1887. The church building was dedicated on August 14, 1887 and still exists although it was moved twice, first in 1952 to 11th Avenue North and Fifth Street in Jacksonville Beach and then in 1970 to the Central Christian Church in Neptune Beach on Florida Boulevard. The congregation was small; services were only held during the summer season for many year. The church ended by 1923 and was revived in 1925.5 Although never large, many prominent community members belonged. By 1890, Father William Kenny established St Paul’s Catholic Mission on 1st Street South. The Diocese of St. Augustine obviously hoped that the mission would convert or attract many people even in a Protestant area.

Figure 2-3 St. Paul's-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church

Figure 2-4 St. Paul's Catholic Church

Very soon after Pablo Beach started on its development path, efforts were made to grow Mayport and environs. Mayport, which contained 600 people, was founded in 1830 by river pilots and fishermen. Boats went twice a day to Jacksonville. The Mayport (Hazard) lighthouse had been destroyed by a hurricane and a new one was built. The US government began removing the sand bar at mouth of St Johns River.6 In May, 1888, the Jacksonville, Mayport, and Pablo Railway and Navigation Company opened a railroad from Arlington on the south Bank of the St. Johns near Jacksonville to Mayport. Alexander Wallace built it to develop the fish and phosphate business at Mayport and tourism at Burnside Beach on the coast just south of the jetties. Land developers from Chicago created Burnside Beach, Seminole Beach, and Manhattan Beach (for African Americans).7
Wallace and the R. M. Haworth Company also created East Mayport. Whereas Mayport was an island with shifting sand, East Mayport had fertile fields. The Jacksonville, Mayport, Pablo Railway & Navigation Company road (JMP) or Jump, Man, And Push, as it was nicknamed, quickly ran into financial troubles. The business with Mayport did not develop to pay the costs. Wallace died in 1889. The JMP went bankrupt but made earned some money hauling freight and coal until its assets were bought by Flagler.8
The failure of the JMP was just one difficulty in developing Mayport. The San Diego Hotel, the Beaches Pavilion, the pre-Civil War Burnside House, and the new 4-story Palmetto Hotel were destroyed by fire in 1889. In March, 1892 , the JMP was bought out and its terminus moved from Arlington to South. Jacksonville, but its financial troubles continued. There was not enough traffic for two railroads to Mayport and it could not compete with the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad. By 1895, all but mail delivery (by hand car) was all that was left. Its rail bed became the original shell road into Mayport and remained only paved road until after 1940.9
Mayport, the little village at the mouth of the St. Johns River in northeast Florida, played a significant role in two fights by "heavyweights" in the winter of 1893-94. One is well-known, drawing international attention; the other was not. Victory for one; defeat for the other. Both are intertwined.
"Gentleman Jim" Corbett fought the English heavyweight champion, Charles Mitchell, for the heavyweight championship of the world on January 25, 1894 in Jacksonville, Florida. The fisticuffs were held in Moncrief Park under the auspices of the Duval Athletic Club. The club sold tickets for $25 each to pay the purse of $20,000 and meet expenses. The DAC had pulled off a coup in getting this championship match scheduled for Jacksonville both because other places wanted this "Super Bowl" of boxing and because the illegal fight met stiff resistance.
Jim Corbett Charles Mitchell

Corbett trained at Mayport less than twenty miles by train from the south part of Jacksonville. He and his crew rented the summer home of Claus Meyer and almost got arrested when one of Corbett's aides forgot to pay Meyer until he threatened arrest. Mitchell trained in St Augustine, well over thirty miles distant.
Both were distant from the furor in the state over the upcoming fight. The opposition seemed insurmountable. Opposed were Governor Mitchell I. Mitchell, Jacksonville Mayor Duncan U. Fletcher, Duval Country Sheriff Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, churches and moralists, and the Second Battalion of Ocala Rifles which the governor sent to Jacksonville. They saw betting immoral and feared that the match would bring riff raff, whores, gamblers, the wrong kind of tourist, and such to the city. They feared violence.
They pressed public officials which seemed to work. The Governor said no. The Mayor and the Sheriff each said no. One suspects they were not that opposed but were afraid to say otherwise. Sheriff Broward didn't complain that much when Circuit Court Judge H. M. Call issued an injunction to prevent him from attaching the Duval Athletic Club's property or enter its grounds. Governor called up troops (the Ocala rifles). Groups tried to get the railroads of H. B. Plant and Henry Flagler not to transport any spectators or gamblers or whores or boxing people to Jacksonville. Free enterprise prevailed, however. The railroads were not about to forgo profits. They refused to accept the argument that it was their moral duty and they should act as government. Moreover, they refused to transport the troops without cash payments in advance. The Governor conceded. When he threatened martial law in Jacksonville to prevent the Corbett-Mitchell fight, he went too far. Public opinion turned against him. Prominent merchant L. Furchgott protested; the business community had joined the pro-fight crowd. The troops that came were booed as they marched down Bay Street. As it turned out, their presence was a charade, a way of saying the Governor was serious about maintaining public order. The fight would go on.
One who came to Jacksonville was a blond New York City woman who was wintering in Florida went to Mayport with her Jacksonville cousin to visit the training facilities of Jim Corbett. No doubt, they probably also wanted to see this very fine example of male beauty. As the New York Times reported on December 25, 1893, "Corbett's muscles stood out in perfect relief, and his skin glowed with perfect health." He was worth seeing. He sparred and wrestled and ran. He weighed himself twice a day on the scales he used, scales which had to be accurate to satisfy boxing rules.
Our heroine made a bad decision, one that caused her to lose the battle to maintain her dignity. She sweet talked the powers that be to allow her to try Corbett's scales, to become more than a spectator. And she mounted them. Much to her horror, she weighed 138 pounds! Surely, she thought, she couldn't have gained weight on vacation in Florida; surely the scales were wrong. She searched the tiny windswept, sandy village for another scale, one that she was sure would show she wasn't that "fat."
A little grocery store nearby had scales to weigh its products, keeping them with hogsheads of molasses in a small annex. The hogsheads had a trough below for the drippings when drawn off. The trough was two by nine feet, more or less, and a foot deep. The annex was dimly lit and its floor was lower than the main building. Our heroine fell into the trough, for her eyes focused on the scales which would restore her reputation. But she was stuck! She was too fat to get out of the tough either by herself or with the help of the owner and his assistant. It took four men!
The defeated tourist, holding her head high, headed for the proprietor's house to get clean as small boys tasted her newly-acquired sweetness. She was even heavier.
The other heavyweight, Gentleman Jim Corbett, won twice. The "scientific glove contest," as the DAC termed the match, was held in Moncrief Park in Jacksonville before 1800 people. Corbett won in twelve minutes and became Heavyweight Champion of the World. The purse was awarded; Corbett also collected the $10,000 he had in side bets; and the swells and "sports" settled up according to their bets. Corbett and Mitchell were arrested for assault and battery. Corbett was tried first and acquitted. The government gave up. The crowds left. The Duval Athletic Club disbanded. Life in Mayport settled down.
We don't know if the sweet woman ever recovered from the loss of face.10
By 1888, Jacksonville was a tourist destination Presumably the beaches got some of this trade. Moreover, their were summer residences at the beaches. That was a hard year for Jacksonville for it suffered a Yellow Fever epidemic. There were 4,676 cases of yellow fever in 1888. The epidemic hurt city of Jacksonville but Pablo Beach still got aid from Jacksonville.
Yellow Jack! That scourge of the tropics and subtropics visited Duval County, Florida in 1888, coming on July 28th without warning, sickening rich and poor alike, and killing and killing. R. D. McCormick, a business traveler, had brought it unknowingly; he stayed at one of the best hotels, the Grand Union. The disease spread cross the city within two weeks. Many died. There seemed to be no stopping it, no cure. People fled if they could. Death was everywhere. The city’s population dropped from 130,000 to 14,000. Dwellings flew yellow flags to warn of the presence of yellow fever.
Other places tried to isolate Jacksonville. Roads were sealed. Guards stopped people from sneaking out of town. Steamboat traffic was suspended. Trains were fumigated or prevented from passing from Jacksonville to other towns. People theorized what caused yellow fever. “Ironically, when yellow fever broke out in Jacksonville in 1857, the railroad builders, clearing and draining the marshy areas for the tracks, were accused of having released malarial miasmas which brought on the dreaded plague.” The Florida Dispatch explained the theory of “Wiggins, the Canadian weather prophet crank” who said: “The cause of the fever is astronomical. The planets were in the same line as the sun and earth and this produced, besides cyclones, earthquakes, etc., a denser atmosphere holding more carbon and creating microbes. “Mars had an uncommonly dense atmosphere, but its inhabitants were probably protected from the fever by their newly discovered canals, which were perhaps made to absorb carbon and prevent the disease.” Some from Jacksonville exploded guns and cannons to “concuss the microbes.”
On August 14, 1888, the Florida Times-Union suggested:

Keep indoors from an hour or more before sunset ‘til an hour at least after sunrise…
Avoid the night air…
Avoid exposure to the sun…
Eat no meat…
Eat no cabbage…
Eat before leaving your house…
Avoid nervousness…
Have faith in your doctor…

American scientists did not know the causes or means of transmission. They had not read the work of Dr. Carlos Finlay, the Cuban medical doctor who had figured it out. It was not until the aftermath of the Cuban-Spanish-American War of 1898 that Finlay’s work became known to U.S. scientists and experiments were conducted to prove Finlay was right. Walter Reed was enough of a scientist to understand Finlay’s theory, test it with experiments, and prove it. Mosquitoes were the culprit. Those concerned with public health then sought to control the mosquito population.

Mayport 1918

Some twenty miles from the city lay the little village of Mayport, sitting at the mouth of the St. Johns River; its residents were not so concerned with the cause of the disease. They wanted to keep this scourge away from their little resort and fishing village. Vacationers and working people conspired to prevent those westerners from spreading the disease to Mayport. Residents of Pablo Beach to the south were scared off by men with guns, “shotgun protection,” as they called it. There were so few people, even vacationers, in Pablo Beach, they were not much of a threat. To counter Jacksonville to the west was the problem. People could cross the river from Jacksonville and take a train to Mayport; “Yellow Jack” might take the train as well.
Mayport residents wanted supplies so they became sneaky about when the train made its loop. People would make “contrary statements” about when the train would run between Mayport and Jacksonville, that is, they only relayed the train departure times from Jacksonville to those they trusted. In other words, the wealthy and the permanent residents knew the fluctuating train schedule but hid it from others. They would ride the little train to and from Arlington, just across the river from the city only when absolutely necessary. They refused help from refugees. Mayport successfully isolated itself and survived the epidemic.
Frost came on November 25, 1888 and killed the mosquitoes. The epidemic died; the crisis passed; and no one in the U.S. understood why.11
Pablo Beach, with its 282 people, 257 in the town in the 1890 census, struggled to survive. The Murray Hall Hotel burned on August 7, 1890. Spinner, its most famous resident, died on December 31, 1890. Florida was dealt a second economic blow in the winter of 1894-1895 when the "Great Freeze" effectively destroyed its citrus industry. The cultivation, processing, and shipping of oranges had been an important staple of trade along the St. Johns River since the 1870s. In north Florida the business evaporated in the winter of 1895-96. Earlier, in September,1892, entrepreneurs got the county government to use convict labor to cut a road through the wilderness to Pablo Beach. The “road” was primitive. Later county commissioners did not want to make it a viable road.12 As it was, it took an entire day to travel from Jacksonville to Pablo.

Figure 2-5 1895 map of Duval County

Pablo Beach played a role, albeit minor, in the Spanish-American War. Before the war of 1898, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward had been helping the Cuban rebels by running filibustering expeditions from Mayport and Pablo Beach.13 After the war began in 1898, some of the troops sent to Jacksonville recuperated from typhoid fever at Pablo Beach. Eventually, some 1,400 soldiers were stationed there. Most famous was William Jennings Bryan, the Populist Party and Democratic Party presidential candidate in 1896 and 1900, who was there in September with the 3rd Nebraska Regiment. Pablo Beach had become more than a few summer cottages but it was still very small and isolated.

Figure 2-6 U.S. Army on Pablo Beach

Figure 2-7 Army Marching on the Beach

Figure 2-8 Showing the Pavilion in the right background.

Figure 2-9 Colonel William Jennings Bryan

The beaches and Florida came into their own because Henry Flagler, a multimillionaire from the Standard Oil Company of John D. Rockefeller, developed a personal interest and spent some of his personal fortune to pursue a whim. In winter, 1878, he visited Jacksonville because of his first wife had tuberculosis. She died a few years later on May 18, 1881. He remarried and made another trip to northeast Florida, this time to charming St. Augustine. Bored with his Standard Oil duties and seeking a new life, he became interested in the possibilities of the frontier state. He returned in 1885 and built the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St Augustine. He also bought the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Halifax Railroad which ran between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Thus, the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) was born. He then began buying other railroads and building luxury hotels on the east coast of the peninsula. One of these was north of Pablo Beach in what became known as Atlantic Beach.

Figure 2-10 Henry M. Flagler

Flagler bought the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company in 1899 and changed the narrow gauge, light rail road to standard gauge with 60-pound rails, thus making it compatible to the railroads in the country. In other words, he made the beaches railroad part of the FEC system and the national train network. He extended the line to Mayport; built a spur to Mineral City when mining began there; and built a railroad bridge across the St. Johns River between Jacksonville and South Jacksonville. Moreover, he built a luxury hotel, the Continental, in Atlantic Beach, opening up that part of the beaches. In 1900, on March 9th, the first FEC train, which had taken over from the Jacksonville & Atlantic Railroad, arrived in Pablo Beach. The engine burned wood until the railroad was extended to Mayport where it could get coal. In 1915, the FEC began converting to oil fueled engines but also ran a gas electric to Pablo beach but that service stopped in 1920.14

Figure 2-11 The Beach in 1900

On June 1,1901, Flagler opened his Continental Hotel in Atlantic Beach. The yellow hotel was 47 feet by 447 feet with a six story rotunda and five story wings. The dining room could seat 350. There were 186 sleeping apartments (later 200) and 56 baths. It had numerous outbuildings.15 It was spectacular as these images show.

Figure 2-12 Continental Hotel with Beach on the Right

Figure 2-13 Continental Hotel Rear View

Figure 2-14 Veranda of Continental Hotel

To promote the Continental Hotel as well as Pablo Beach, the FEC ran excursion trains to the beaches every weekend. People came from neighboring states to the beaches. On Labor Day, 1901, many people from Jacksonville went to the beaches. H. H. Buckman, a developer associated with the JMP and then with Flagler, sold some of his property to the FEC. He promoted lots in Atlantic Beach but the community remained very small.16

Figure 2-15 Buckman Atlantic Beach Ad

Figure 2-16 Buckman 1925 Map

Flagler’s interests lay farther south so, in 1911, his company leased the Continental Hotel for ten years to A. S. Stanford who represented the American Resort Hotel Company. In 1913, the hotel and 4,000 acres north to the south jetty were sold by the Florida East Coast Hotel Company to E. R. Brackett and a consortium of New York capitalists who formed the Atlantic Beach Corporation and renamed it the Atlantic Beach Hotel. This corporation, headed by Harcourt Bull, sought to develop the community. On May 17, 1917, the hotel property was sold at public auction and bought in by the FEC Hotel Company for $167,000. In November, 1917, it was leased to W.H. Adams, Sr. It burned on September 20, 1919, a loss of $300,000.17

Figure 2-17 W. H. Adams, Sr.

Figure 2-18 Atlantic Beach Hotel Brochure

In 1901, John G. Christopher built a house at 11th Street and Oceanfront in Atlantic Beach. The Christopher-Bull House, as it was eventually known, still exists. Christopher had brought telephones to Jacksonville in 1881, built the Murray Hall Hotel, and operated steamers on the St. Johns to Palatka. At his new home, he entertained numerous guests, making it the social nexus of the beaches. Then he sold it in 1917 to Harcourt Bull, who pioneered Atlantic Beach and raised a family there. George Bull, Sr. and Mary Bull lived there 29 years after WWII.18

Figure 2-19 Christopher-Bull House

There was a separate development in north Pablo Beach, just south of Atlantic Beach, by 1902. S. F. Myers bought land there and named it Neptune. He planned to create a middling development, not as nice as Atlantic Beach but above Pablo Beach. Myers planned to build a hotel but did not. 19
So, at the turn of the 20th century, the coast of Jacksonville was being populated. Mayport was still the largest settlement; it had a better economic base as a port, railroad hub, and fishing village. Atlantic Beach had begun as a luxury hotel and only a few dwellings served by a railroad. Pablo Beach showed the most promise because it not only contained vacation houses but also would become a tourist destination. Tourism, primarily day trippers from Jacksonville, would cause the town to grow. Hotels, rooming houses, amusements, bath houses, food purveyors, bars, whore houses, a pier, and a dancing pavilion were some of the aspects of tourism. And they would require more and more year-round residents—cooks, cleaners, clerks, carpenters—skilled and unskilled labor, in other words, as well as owners and managers. African-Americans as well as “whites” settled albeit not in the same neighborhoods.
African-Americans were an important part of beach life even though they were segregated into their own community. In 1900, a census taker noted fifty-one African-Americans within eleven families in Pablo Beach, an average family size at the time. They did much of the hard and/or dangerous work as well as running businesses for other African-Americans. By 1905, there were enough African-Americans at the beaches for the founding of the St. Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Church by Mother Rhoda L. Martin in Pablo Beach. This was the section known as “The Hill.” Initially, the church met in her home at the corner of Shetter Avenue and 7th Street South and south of the FEC railroad tracks. She also began teaching school there.20 Her “school” became the Jacksonville Beach Elementary School for "blacks."
Education was not considered important in Duval County for “white” children and even less for “black” children. In 1900, the Duval County school system spent $12.08 per white child and $5.47 per "black" child. In the system, 51% of the students were “white.” School lasted only 101 days. Salaries were low but were less than $40 per month for "black" women. School was only for five months.21 African-Americans at the beaches had no public school, only the one taught by Mother Rhoda L. Martin in her home. The elementary school for “whites” was located at 2nd Street South and Orange Avenue now 2nd Avenue South. This photo, taken from The Beaches Leader newspaper, was typical of the elementary school in those days.

Figure 2-20 Pablo Beach Elementary Students

People did not go to beaches because of education; they went to have fun and they did. Some went because they had no choice. On August 21-25,1900, there was an encampment of the Jacksonville Light Infantry and Atlanta Artillery at Pablo Beach, Camp Wheeler. The hard packed sand on the beach was conducive to transportation when the tide was out. The strand was 600 feet wide and the tides changed every six hours. Wagons had traveled the strand to transport goods south from Mayport but rich people soon found another use for this hard surface.
The Beaches had brief fame for automobile racing even though there were only 17 in Jacksonville and 296 in Floirida in 1906, the year when Joe Lander broke the stock car speed record on the Atlantic-Pablo Beaches Course. He drove 5 miles in 4 minutes and 55 seconds. The course started at the Continental Hotel. People who had both the inclination and the money came from Jacksonville by way of Mayport to watch. Within less than a decade, automobiles would cease being a rich man’s toy. By 1913, there were 15,000 autos in the Jacksonville area. Races were held again in July, 1910. In March 1911, however, monster cars from around the world came to race for four days. Thousands attended to see if any of the cars could exceed the 75-mile-an-hour speed record. Races were held again in 1917. Then the U.S. entered the First World War, suspending beach racing.22

Figure 2-21 Race Car, Pablo Beach, 1906

Figure 2-22 Cycle Racing, Atlantic Beach, 1915

Some men had special needs met. In 1908, Cora Taylor Crane, widow of Stephen Crane, the famous author of Red Badge of Courage, operated a brothel, Palmetto Lodge, at Pablo Beach. It was on the west side of First Street North between 8th avenue North and Ninth Avenues North.
For African-Americans in this bigoted age, in 1907, Manhattan Beach, north of Atlantic Beach and south of the jetties, opened with pavilions, cottages, and playgrounds. Some years later, it would be replaced by American Beach in Nassau County to the north.23 .
The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company created maps so it could minimize risks and Pablo Beach maps exist.24 The Web server does not allow a viewer to get a large full map. One can download snippets of some size, which I have done to illustrate the appearance of Pablo Beach. On the maps, the buildings are color coded; yellow indicates a wooden building; red equals brick; blue equals stone; gray equals stone; and brown equals fire proof. East-West streets In 1903, all the buildings were coded yellow. The maps also give dimensions.
This general map provides a glimpse of the layout of the little town. To the modern reader, the maps can be confusing because if name changes over time. In 1903, Putnam Avenue became Pablo Avenue; Duval Avenue became Mundy Avenue and then Beach Boulevard. In 1937, the east-west streets north of Putnam and south of Duval were numbered. Leon Avenue became Dickerson Avenue and then 1st Avenue North; Shockley Avenue became 1st Avenue South. The creek shown on these maps was Bonsall Creek which ran towards the southeast until it turned east around Greiner Avenue and went to the ocean. It was eventually eliminated. In south Pablo Beach but close to Railroad Avenue/Mundy Drive there were a number of important institutions. One was the Pablo Hotel on 2nd Street South and Orange Avenue (2nd Avenue South). St. Paul’s-by-the Sea occupied the northeast corner of 2nd Street South and Orange Avenue (2nd Avenue South). The public school was on the northwest. On 1st Street South between Suskind (4th Avenue South) and Mann (5th Avenue South) stood St. Paul’s Catholic Mission. The maps shows other important structures. Summer cottages lined the shore. There were public bath houses and dressing room. The open-air dancing pavilion between Putnam and Duval was very popular.
In 1903, the Ocean View Hotel, owned and managed by W. H. Adams, Sr., was located on Putnam Avenue and had an adjoining public bath house the photo below shows.25 This wood frame structure was very popular, the successor of the Murray Hall Hotel.

Figure 2-23 Ocean View Hotel

Figure 2-24 Schematic Map of Downtown Pablo Beach

Figure 2-25 Ocean View Hotel Post Card

One of the most striking features in town was the FEC train station a few blocks west of the ocean. Arriving passengers only had to walk a few blocks to a hotel or bath house or restaurant bar or amusement. The train ran north to Atlantic Beach and Mayport along what is now 2nd Street North. Other than landing by boat at Mayport and traveling on the beach at low tide, taking the train was the most convenient mode of travel so it was the lifeline.

Figure 2-26 Pablo Beach Railroad Depot

Figure 2-27 Pablo Beach Showing Summer Cottages

Figure 2-28 Just South of Pablo's Downtown

Given that most of the buildings were made of wood and were lighted by candles or kerosene lamps and heated by fireplaces or kerosene heaters, fires threatened their existence. How devastating they could be was brought home with a vengeance on May 3,1901 in Jacksonville. The great Jacksonville fire destroyed 146 city blocks and 2,368 buildings. The fire slowed the development of Pablo and Atlantic Beaches because funds were devoted largely to rebuilding Jacksonville but the new Jacksonville would be more dynamic.26
For people in east Duval County though, life was a beach. The ocean, a very wide strand cooled by breezes which could serve as a highway, sand dunes, creeks, homes—seasonal and permanent—places to eat, drink, play, mail service, maid service, and people dedicated to serving one’s needs and desires made it delightful. The little train brought passengers and supplies eight times a day. One could take trips to Jacksonville or Mayport for profit or pleasure. People could stay at the Ocean View or Pablo Hotel or cottages, rooms, flat, or tents if they weren’t doing a day trip. If they had money, they could stay at the Continental Hotel in Atlantic Beach. There was plenty to do besides dipping in the surf. The small permanent population of several hundred swelled to thousands during the summer season. One could live at the beaches and earn a living. There was a public school for “white” children and those so inclined and whose parents could afford to keep them out of the workforce could take the train to attend Duval High School in Jacksonville.
The following photographs and postcards depict the was casual, pleasant life on the beaches.

Figure 2-29 Palmetto Avenue, Pablo Beach

Figure 2-30 Ocean Front, Pablo Beach

Figure 2-31 The Shore

Figure 2-32 Pablo Avenue, Looking East

Figure 2-33 First Street, Looking North

Far to the north on the banks of the St. Johns, Mayport thrived. The village was not actually a part of the beaches although it served a very useful function for Pablo Beach and the cluster of buildings in Atlantic Beach. Mayport existed long before its southern neighbors and was more oriented towards Jacksonville. Although necessarily small, there were churches, stores, schools, and the other accoutrements of “urban” civilization. It even had its own baseball team for adolescents. East of Mayport, Elizabeth Worthington bought two oceanfront lots in 1914. She expanded her holdings to 300 acres. She and her new husband, Jack Stark, created Wonderwood-by-the-Sea.27

Figure 2-34 Mayport Docks

Figure 2-35 Railroad Station and Wharf, Mayport

Figure 2-36 1901 Mayport Baseball Team

Pablo Beach was finally organized as an official town in 1907; before it had just been a post office. To run the town the Governor appointed local citizens. H. M. Shockley was named mayor; J. Denham Bird as treasurer, and G. W. Wilkerson as city clerk. The town council members were J. E. Dickerson, E. E. Willard, William Wilkerson, E. E. Suskind, Alexander Stevens, W. H. Shetter, C. M. Greiner, T. H. Griffith, and C. H. Mann.28 They had lent their names to the avenues long before. In 1908, they began paving some streets with shell. Most streets were just sand.

Figure 2-37 Dickerson Avenue and 1st St. North
1 “Ancient History at Beaches Is Recalled As Landmark Will Be Razed for Modern Buildings,” Florida Times-Union, 1935; S. Paul Brown, Book of Jacksonville: A History, (Poughkeepsie, NY: A. V. Haight, 1895), p.144.
2. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population of the United States by Minor Civil Divisions. Washington, 1891, p. 7. This figure does not include such suburbs as Fairfield and South Jacksonville.
3. Davis, 175.
4. Davis, p. 493; Scull interview; Ed Smith, Them Good Ole Days at Mayport and the Beaches. Luxury hotels are unlikely places for U. S. post office and, as Scull reported, hotel guests complained.
5. Johnston, Architectural Resources, p. 43.
6. Wanton S. Webb, “Duval County,” Webb's Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida, Pt. I., 1885, pp. 43-47.
7. “Mayport Naval Station,”
8. Helen Cooper Floyd, In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse: A Folk History of Mayport, Florida. (Jacksonville, 1994), pp. 2, 16.
9. Davis, pp.189, 353-54.
10. To see Corbett fight, click on the following iinks.To see Corbett, follow these links: Bob Fitzsimmons and Jim Corbett (1894); Jim Corbett v. Bob Fitzsimmons (1894); Quick Jim. John W. Cowart, “Gentleman Jim Corbett’s Big Fight,”, 2005. Foley, Bill. “Jacksonville's boxing title match had real sideshow,” Florida Times-Union, February 23, 2000. “The Vanity Of A New York Woman Wintering in Florida Got Her In Trouble,” New York Times, January 28, 1894. “Corbett in Active Training,” New York Times, December 25, 1893 “May Declare The Fight Off,” New York Times, January 20, 1894. “The Fight Still In Doubt,” New York Times, January 25, 1894.
11. Davis, 175-77; Webb, “Duval County,” 43; Davis, 102, 180; Margaret C. Fairlie, “The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888 in Jacksonville,” Florida Historical Quarterly 19:2 ( October 1940 ), 96-109. John W. Cowart, “Yellow Fever in Jacksonville,” says: “On July 28, 1888, Yellow Jack invaded Jacksonville, Florida;” “Yellow Fever’s Victims, New York Times, September 17, 1888; and Herbert J. Doherty, Jr., “Jacksonville As A Nineteenth-Century Railroad Center,” Florida Historical Quarterly, 58:4, p. 374.
12 Johnston, Architectural Resources, pp. 45-47; Davis, p. 198.
13 George Buker, Jacksonville: Riverport-Seaport (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992). Pp. 103-7. See "Three Friends Ready," New York Times, December 6, 1896. Broward later became Governor of Florida.
14 Davis, 351.
15. Simon, p. 11.
16. James B. Crooks, Jacksonville After The Fire, 1901-1919: A New South City. Jacksonville: University of North Florida, 1991, p.27; Herbert J. Doherty, “Jacksonville As A Nineteenth-Century Railroad Center,” Florida Historical Quarterly 58:4 (April, 1980), pp.383-4.
17. Davis, 494. The Adams family played an extraordinary role in Beaches history. Some still live there. The cost of living calculator of the American Institute for Economic Research converts this figure to $2,546,750 in 2005. See my "A Man and Three Hotels".
18. Christopher F. Aguilar; “A Party to History,” Beaches Shorelines, February 2, 2002. The story of Harcourt Bull's involvement in Atlantic Beach is told in my "Harcourt Bull's Atlantic Beach, Florida.
19. Bill Foley, “Neptune Was Born As A Buffer to Atlantic”, Florida Times-Union, June 21, 1997.
20. Johnston, Architectural Resources, p. 57; Kathy Nicoletti, “AME celebrates 100 Years at Beaches,” The Beaches Leader/Ponte Vedra Leader (October 28, 2005). In 1949, it was moved to 125 Ninth Street South.
21. Crooks, p. 13.
22.Davis, 218; Bill Foley, “Millennium Moment: March 25, 1911,: Times-Union, March 25, 1999; Michael Gannon, Florida, A Short History. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1993, p. 7; Davis, 232. York Times, January 29, 1911; “Florida Beach Races,” New York Times, March 14, 1911; New York Times, January 29, 1911. John W. Cowart, “Jacksonville’s Motorcar History.”, 2004.
23. Russ Rymer, American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth, and Memory. (NY: HarperCollins, 1998).
24. Sanborn Fire Fire Insurance Company, San Pablo maps.
25. Johnston, Architectural Resources, p. 52.
26. James B. Crooks, Jacksonville After the Fire, 1901-1919: A New South City. (Gainesville, University of Florida Press, 1991).
27. "Mayport Village," City of Jacksonville Web site. In 1940, the U.S. Navy took the property for the base it was building
28. Davis, 233; Johnston, Architectural Resources, p. 52.
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