History Happened Here

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Atlantic Beach

Duval County

Year Founded: 1926


Three seaside communities, now called Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach, lie contiguous to one another about 14 miles southeast of the metropolis of Jacksonville. Formerly, the territory of all three was included in what was called Pablo Beach, after the Spanish form of Paul. A post office was established here in October 1884 and Pablo Beach was incorporated on May 22, 1907. Atlantic Beach , named after the Atlantic Ocean , started as a small settlement around 1900 when Henry Flagler, builder of the Florida East Coast Railway and developer of many towns along its route, built the Mayport branch of the Florida East Coast Railway and erected a station just north of the site now known as the Richard Bull Memorial Park . The Continental Hotel, with approximately 300 rooms, was built on a tract of land lying between the depot and the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. The land around the hotel for several blocks was subdivided and sold for summer homes about 1901. The developers had a nine-hole golf course west of the depot and used many promotional activities to attract tourists and summer residents. A paved highway leading from Jacksonville was built in 1910. In 1912, 1913 and 1914 there was quite a boom, with auto races on the beach, air shows and other entertaining features offered. In 1913, the railroad sold most of the land to the Atlantic Beach Corporation, which was headed by Ernest R. Brackett. Mr. J.C. Turner joined Mr. Brackett in the investment and they paved streets, added lights, put in sewerage and extended water lines. During World War I, people were afraid to come to the coast and the Atlantic Beach Corporation finally went into bankruptcy. However, following the war, land began to sell again and the settlement began to grow. In 1925, when the present town of Jacksonville Beach was incorporated, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach broke away and established themselves separately. In 1926, Atlantic Beach was incorporated as a town and the governor appointed Harcourt Bull, Sr. as the first mayor. In 1929, the charter was passed by the Legislature and approved by a vote of the people. About this same time, paving and widening of the beach road was completed and the Florida East Coast Railway abandoned its service to the beaches. The town acquired a tract of land from the railroad, which was a part of the right-of-way and developed the town park and Town Hall site. In 1931, the Town Hall burned down, costing the life of the Town Marshal Patrick. A City Hall was built in 1932 and was used until 1991 when a new one was built. (The old City Hall building is now being used as a community center and houses the parks and recreation office.) The Continental Hotel, which was a wooden structure, burned and W.H. Adams, Sr. bought the property and built the present Atlantic Beach Hotel.

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