A Look at San Jose

September 10, 2008 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

San Jose was one of Jacksonville's earliest suburbs to be designed with the automobile in mind.


The highlighted area represents the boundary of the original San Jose Estates development. 


The San Jose Company was founded in 1914 with Claude Nolan as its president.  Nolan, owner of Claude Nolan Cadillac, backed this project because he believed that the automobile would foster the growth of outlying suburban communities.  However, the company's plans were indefinitely delayed by the beginning of World War I.

Interest in San Jose would come alive again during the 1920's.  On January 25, 1925, a charter was granted for San Jose Estates.  The new company planned a major community that would include two hotels, a golf and country club, a 100' wide esplanade along the river, a yacht club, parks, schools, a retail center and hundreds of houses.  The community's theme would be "a bit of Old Spain in the new world".

In 1926, the San Jose Hotel opened as the centerpiece of the development.  Unfortunately, despite strong opening sales, Florida's real estate boom had begun to fall apart.  By the end of 1926, with the exception of 31 completed homes, all construction came to an end.  In 1928, the San Jose Hotel was closed and sold to the estate of Richard Bolles.  After World War II, the neighborhood was overcome by suburban sprawl.  Today, the original remnants of the Spanish Mediterranean-style project has been mixed in with modern development.

San Jose historic summary based off the description published in Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage by Wayne W. Wood.

This gate tower, near Christopher Creek, is the last of four Spanish entrance gates to San Jose Estates.  The others appear to have been demolished for the widening of San Jose Blvd.


The Bolles School

Now known as The Bolles School, this building was constructed as the 125 room San Jose Hotel, the centerpiece of San Jose Estate's commercial district.  After being forced to close due to bankruptcy in late 1928, the hotel was sold to the Richard Bolles Estate for $225,000 and leased to the Florida Military Academy in 1929.  In 1961, the building became a boy's prep school and in 1971 it became coeducational.


Epping Forest

The site of Epping Forest was originally planned to become the home of the Vanderbilt Hotel.  However, the site was sold to Alfred I. DuPont when the development died.  The DuPont's constructed this Mediterranean Revival style mansion called "Epping Forest".  In 1984, Epping Forest was purchased by Herb Peyton, president of the Gate Petroleum Company.


 Constructed in 1925, the San Jose Estates Administration Building housed the offices of the development's executives, salesmen, engineers and a small casino.  This building also included a gas station on the corner of San Jose and Old St. Augustine Road emphasizing the community's early dependence on the automobile.  Today, this structure houses the San Jose Episcopal Church.


The San Jose Country Club is the only commercial structure from the original development that still retains its original function.

The Spanish flavor of the development had a historical basis.  The development's location corresponded closely to a 1,135 acre tract granted to Francis Xavier Sanchez by the Spanish government in the late 1700's.  The property became known as The San Jose Plantation.  During the 1920's, developers chose Spanish street names to expand on the theme as a marketing device.


San Jose Residences

San Jose Estates developers predicted that 100 houses would be constructed within one year of breaking ground.  Unfortunately, only 31 houses were completed before all construction at the development came to an end.  Many sat vacant for years during the Great Depression.  Today, 21 original Mediterranean Revival-style San Jose Estates residences remain, mixed in with modern development that has consumed the area.








Article by Ennis Davis