When hostilities ended after the Civil War, Clay County became a major tourist destination. Northerners took advantage of the wave of steamboats that made it easy for them to come south to see relatively unexplored lands. After being severly disappointed by their first stop in Florida (Jacksonville), they were pleasantly surprised at their next one in one of Clay County's hotels.
The Magnolia Springs Hotel was, for a time, the most important resort in Florida and other hotels in Green Cove Springs, Fleming Island and Orange Park took advantage of its draw and tried to trump it. This was a prime location -- deep enough into wild Florida to get a feel for the place, and not so far that a decent dinner could be found. The tourists were thrilled with the golf and alligators, just as they are today.
The Hotel Era rapidly declined as railroads took tourists beyond Clay County to Flagler's jewels in St. Augustine, Miami and Tampa. The hotels, mostly wooden structures, were no longer so attractive as they deteriorated, or burned. A series of cold winters, in particular 1895, didn't help. And if there were any hope in a revival, WW I put an end to any future festivities.
By 1916, there were eight hotels in the whole county, including six in Green Cove Springs: Mohawk (Mrs. C. W. Tyler - 20 rooms), Riverside (Mrs. H. W. Hancock - 10), Oakland (George R. Duncan - 19), Quisisana (E. L. Caswell - 59), Seminole (Mrs. J. W. Lucas - 19), Clarendon House (Mrs. E. Y. Harvey - 9), Fleming House (F. A. Fleming at Hibernia - 29) and Martin (Mrs. M. Martin at Orange Park -47). By the Great Depression, even these struggled.
The Clarendon opened in December, 1871. Together with its two cottages, it accomodated 200 guests.
Green Cove Springs. Owned by Stanislaus Glinski, and previously by Emily Barbino. (Parade of Memories, pg 125)
This postcard is one of the only images which shows the Fleming house as the Hibernia Hotel. It lists Mrs. F. Fleming as the proprietress.
Built in 1923 on Lake Geneva.
Park View Hotel
Orange Park. Previously called Hotel Marion, it was later purchased by Moosehaven and became Brandon Hall.
Green Cove Springs. See Hooper's "Clay County," pg 68.
Orange Park. Burned April 2, 1881 (see A. M. Reed Diary)
Green Cove Springs
The Qui-Si-Sana, in Green Cove Springs, worked hard to upstage Magnolia Springs, and featured a casino. Torn down in 2002 to build the new Town Hall.
(The St. Elmo, The Morganza)
Is it a coincidence that St. Elmo is the first name of Acosta, who worked to buidl the first bridge in Jacksonville?
Seminole Hotel (The Tyler House)
Photo in Hoopers "Clay Couty," pg 75.
Spaehawk (Orange Park)
St. Clair Hotel
Built by Theodore Edgerton in 1873. 50 rooms.
A brochure is available at the Florida State Library in Tallahassee (OCLC 43678884).
Green Cove Springs. Accomodations for fifty guests. (Parade of Memories, pg 125). Built by Joseph D. Mitchell. Sold to Theodore T. Edgerton in 1873. He tore it down and built the St. Clair.
Hotels in other times
One of the first structures in the Keystone Heights area. Built by William King after 1900. Later, John J. Lawrence used the structure as the headquarters of his Lawrence Development Co. as he founded Keystone Heights.
Now a private club with bed and breakfast facilities, the grounds and buildings of the Caleb Johnson estate have a rich history, intermingled with the development of Orange Park.
See the history of Club Continental.
Colonial Inn at Penney Farms
Built in the 1930s by the WPA out of second-hand bricks. Last public function was during the County's celebration of the Nation's Bicentennial in 1976. See Mary Jo McTammany's article.
The first inn of any sort known in Clay County, on the Alachua trail. It burned during the First Seminole War.
The Mohawk Hotel served as the Green Cove Springs bus station. Personnel from the Naval base are milling about. Late 1940s.
Became a hotel in the 1910s. Torn down in 1963.
St. Johns Inn
Apparently built prior to 1927 and existed when Long Branch changed its name to Penney Farm in that year.