Effectively, below we are, after a speedy sprint across north Florida from coastline to coast, face to facial area as soon as a lot more with the brisk, briny, Atlantic-ocean breezes.
Exactly where are we? Jacksonville Seashore, after the most preferred beach vacation resort in Florida.
Being the “Winter Film Money of the World” in the silent-film era, Jacksonville and its seashores have been vastly beautiful to sun-seekers, including stars. Pablo Seashore (as it was then named) had jazzed up its broad, white, heat sands with dance casinos and amusement rides and just after the Casa Marina Lodge opened in 1925, everyone came, together with, according to casamarinahotel.com, “the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John D. Rockefeller, President Harry S. Truman and F.D.R…Jean Harlow and Al Capone.”
As if in mutual celebration of each and every other, on the working day the “House by the Sea” opened, Pablo Seaside obtained its new title, “Jacksonville Seashore.”
Jacksonville Seaside is just one of what locals refer to as “the beach locations,” with the others becoming, from north to south, Mayport, Atlantic Seaside, Neptune Beach, and Ponte Vedra Seaside. These seashore communities are all on an island, unofficially known as, “San Pablo Island.” This as-nevertheless-unnamed island was originally a peninsula, divided from Jacksonville on the mainland by the San Pablo River. The construction of the intracoastal waterway in 1912 severed the peninsula from the mainland and voila, we had an island.
Feel it or not, right up until the 1880s, oceanfront real estate was not thought of as having opportunity as resort property. Resorts ended up at purely natural springs in the mountains, not alongside the fast paced industrial waterfronts of port cities. Last but not least, nonetheless, the realization slowly but surely started to dawn that southern shorelines were warm. And could be lovely. And that folks with income to spare may well be inclined to shell out their winters in the heat of Florida somewhat than in the frigid Adirondacks, if presented with ease of entry to lavish lodging.
This realization started the bells clanging within land and investment companies with all the noisy rigor of prepare cars and trucks coupling. And that’s when the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Organization sent a civil engineer and surveyor to existing-working day Jacksonville Beach front to commence function on a rail line from the metropolis of Jacksonville to the beach on the peninsula. The surveyor took his spouse with him, and they camped in a tent. A next tent served as the general shop and publish business office of the settlement they named, “Ruby,” immediately after their initially-born daughter.
The railroad and depot were being accomplished in 1885, the beach front was formally named “Pablo Beach” the subsequent yr, and keen visitors, enthusiastic by the novelty of tenting, turned the ocean strand into a tent metropolis.
In 1905, Pablo Beach was energized with the creation of its first pavilion. Its builders envisioned the seaside as a different Coney Island and named it accordingly. Very little Coney Island experienced dance casinos, a swimming pool, bowling alley, and roller skating rinks, and the beach front vacation resort was so well-known that two a long time later on, it was included as Pablo Beach.
20 years later on, Little Coney Island was razed, and the bigger and far better Ocean See Pavilion went up. This amusement park experienced a roller coaster that eventually arrived at 93 ft in peak, but 20 decades of have on and the salty ocean air lowered it to a risky experience in a dilapidated pavilion. Soon after Planet War II, when the sailors went house and the ladies with them, the outdated 1925 Ocean See Pavilion went into drop and not very long after, burned to the floor. In the 1950s, gambling was outlawed and the lifestyle of the Boardwalk, with its vibrant, gaudy video games of prospect, died, also.
A single matter from the raucous glory times of Jacksonville Beach front stays, however—the Casa Marina Lodge.
Created in 1925, at the peak of the Florida authentic estate boom, it was the jazz era’s jazziest place to go on “the shorelines.” Motion picture stars bopped in and out, along with gangsters and presidents.
Made of stucco and concrete and geared up with a hearth sprinkling process, it was advertised as fireproof, while it’s uncertain that its booze-soaked, cigarette-smoking clientele a great deal cared.
World wars have a way of sobering even the young, nonetheless. All through Globe War II, the U.S. government appropriated the Casa Marina Hotel to give army housing for Officers Prospect University students. Just after the war, a succession of homeowners converted the outdated hotel to retail stores, residences, and so forth., and you know the rest of the tale. The operate-down old creating ultimately shut.
But with a facelift and some entire body enhancements— a veranda and third-story penthouse— she reopened in 1991. At the age nowadays of almost 100, she has reinvented herself as the Casa Marina Hotel & Cafe. Every single of her 23 bedrooms and parlor suites is individually adorned to symbolize the distinctive eras of the hotel’s history.
As Casa Marina is the only seaside house remaining to us from Jacksonville’s transient era as the “Hollywood of the South,” it is guarded today as a single of the Historic Resorts of America.
Cynthia A. Williams ([email protected])