The history of Jacksonville goes back long before the Europeans reached the mouth of the St. Johns River. The Ossachite Indians, a name that comes from the language of the Timucua, lived in this area and its culture developed around 500 BC
Later, in the first decade of the sixteenth century, the Spaniards arrived. In 1562, led by Jean Ribault, a group of French Huguenots founded the first European settlement called Fort Caroline, on the south bank of the St. Johns River. However, French colonization in the New World lasted very little. The military installation was destroyed by the Spaniards to control the area. The attack was led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and its Timucuas allies.
Today Jacksonville is an attractive city that bewitches its charms, where historic buildings stand out, interesting modern architecture, good restaurants, not to mention its rich history.
Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant
A good choice to experience the history of Jacksonville is from the historic and elegant Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant. A beautiful building that opened its doors on June 6, 1925, and is celebrating its 90th Anniversary.
A member of Florida’s Historic Hotels of America Foundation maintains the classic 1920’s elegant style inside and outside its structure. Its location is on the beach just steps from the crystal clear waters surrounding the classic Fishing Bridge Pier. 691 1st., St., N., Jacksonville Beach, FL. Phone 904 270-0025.
An interesting site to visit is Kingsley Plantation within the Timucuan Preserve. The plantation, surrounded by oaks and cypresses, is possibly the only one that shows part of the slavery in Florida. Visitors can appreciate up close the 23-year-old 200-year-old cabins, the stable and the main house of the plantation.
The name of the plantation comes from the Englishman Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. He married a 13-year-old slave from Senegal, Africa, named Anna Madgigine Jai. The plantation owner stayed in Havana, then both moved to Fort George Island in 1814. He was the sole owners of this 1,000-acre plantation. It is currently the oldest plantation still standing in Florida.
The Kingsley Plantation, Fort George Island, is located at 1676 Palmetto Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32226. From the hotel, on the A1A N, to the pier and board the St. John River Ferry ferry ($ 6.00).
The St. Johns River and its famous bridge
The center of Jacksonville, about 30 minutes from the beach, is breathtaking. It highlights a combination of new buildings that blend with the elegant architecture of years ago, and include a variety of historic buildings. Here is the MOCA Museum, famous for its collections ranging from paintings by great artists to photos and historical data. Near the museum is the film site of the first (silent) films in the United States. Here you can walk where Charles Spenser Chaplin and other greats of that era did. For logistical reasons, the film industry moved to Hollywood. MOCA Jacksonville Cultural Resource of UNF address: 333 North Laura St., Jacksonville, FL 32202. Telephone 904 366-6911.