History Happened Here

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Jacksonville Beach

Duval County

Year Founded: 1907

History

In 1884, William E. Scull, surveyor for the railroad, and his wife Eleanor moved to the area now known as Jacksonville Beach. There were already several tent houses in the vicinity. The Sculls lived in one tent and ran the first general store from another. Later the Sculls applied for a post office under the name of Ruby, a name chosen in honor of their oldest daughter, and ran the post office from their store. Mail was delivered by boat once a week from Jacksonville. In 1886, Ruby was renamed Pablo Beach after the San Pablo River to the west that divides the island from the mainland. Upon completion of the railway to Pablo Beach in mid-1886, the first resort hotel was built and opened to the public. Unfortunately a fire in the boiler room in 1890 destroyed the hotel, the railway depot and surrounding buildings. The railway company soon met with financial difficulties and was taken over by the millionaire Henry M. Flagler as part of the Florida East Railway System. Pablo Beach was incorporated on May 22, 1907. In 1925 the name was changed to Jacksonville Beach. The boardwalk era began in 1915 and 1916 when businessman Martin Williams Sr. established dance pavilions, shooting galleries, boxing, wrestling, restaurants and other forms of entertainment on the new boardwalk. Auto racing on the hard-packed sand of the beaches made the area popular for this spectator sport. The boardwalk’s popularity declined in the late 1950s with the state’s crackdown on gambling and games of chance. Driving on the beach was prohibited in 1979.

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