Metro Jacksonville takes a ride down one of the First Coast's most prestigious streets: Ponte Vedra Boulevard.
What is now North Florida was visited several times by European explorers in the 16th century, but there is little evidence for them coming to Ponte Vedra Beach specifically. It may have been sighted by Juan Ponce de Leon during his voyage to Florida in 1513, but as his precise landfall is unknown, this claim may be made by many communities on the east coast of Florida.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vedra_Beach,_Florida
The area remained sparsely populated through the late 19th century, even as other seaside communities began to develop to the north. In 1914 minerals were discovered, and a community known as Mineral City grew up around the mining operations there. Titanium (ilmenite) extraction was significant, as well as that of zircon and rutile.These minerals were recovered from beach sands by a private commercial firm called National Lead Company, directed by Henry Holland Buckman and George A. Pritchard. During World War I titanium was a component of poison gas, and therefore a strategic mineral.
After the war, mineral demand dropped, so the National Lead Company changed its focus to building a resort community. The name of the community was changed to Ponte Vedra, apparently after the city of Pontevedra, Galicia, (Spain). The actual reason is unknown, but there was a rumor that one of the developers read a newspaper article that claimed Christopher Columbus was born there.
A house circa 1974.
A two-story house circa 1974.
Ponte Vedra Clubhouse circa 1974.
The backside of the Ponte Vedra Club in 1965.
1938 postcard of "The Inn."
Aerial view of the golf course in 1981.
1935 photo of the course.
Fishing in the Guana river in 1972.
Ponte Vedra Beach is an unincorporated seaside community in St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Located 18 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville and 26 miles north of St. Augustine, it is part of the Jacksonville Beaches area. It is an upmarket tourist resort area best known for its association with golf. The Sawgrass development is the home of the ATP Tour, the PGA Tour, and The Players Championship, played at the TPC at Sawgrass. The area is known for its resorts including the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club (a AAA five diamond resort), the Lodge and Club (four diamonds), and the Marriott at Sawgrass (three diamonds). It also lies in the fourth wealthiest county in Florida, ranking just behind the Palm Beach and Naples areas. Ponte Vedra Beach is affectionately known as the Palm Beach of North Florida.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vedra_Beach,_Florida
Most of the beaches have limited public access, with the exception of Mickler's Landing and Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Golf, tennis and boating are other popular activities.
The population (including surrounding areas) in 2005 was given as 35,400. Ponte Vedra Beach was 50th on the list of 100 finalists for CNN and Money Magazine's 2005 List of the Best Places to Live. It was the first place in Florida to be named in that year and one of only four areas in the state to make the cut.
Ponte Vedra boasts a strong and growing economy, with a per capita income that ranks second in the state. Oceanfront and gated-community homes for sale in Ponte Vedra Beach have been appreciating in value, as home buyers are drawn to the quiet and beautiful white, sandy beaches. And while home values are rising, taxes remain low.http://www.kristafracke.com/
The homes on the beach along Ponte Vedra Boulevard are some of highest priced homes in North East Florida. The scarcity of oceanfront lots in the area has driven up home prices to the $10,000,000 mark. Buyers trying to build an estate home on the Boulevard can have a hard time finding 200 foot wide lots these days. That has led to buyers finding older homes they can tear down to rebuild with new modern beach homes.
The area is interesting for the extensive variation and uniqueness of residences, that stand side by side. There is a lack of uniform that just works here.
Ponte Vedra Boulevard branches off in both directions with small subdivisions, streets, and cul-de-sac's.
A home under construction. There are several in such stage and also a handfull of empty lots for lease along the boulevard.
A beach volleyball court in someone's front yard!
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, as well as The Lodge & Club, complete the luxury vacation destination known as Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts. The resorts feature access to picturesque beaches, luxury amenities, premier Florida golf courses, Florida spa resort facilities, proximity to Jacksonville, wedding and Florida conference facilities, as well as lodging accommodations ranging from affordable to luxury.http://www.pontevedra.com/
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
In the early 1920s, the National Lead Company had built a 9-hole golf course and 12-room clubhouse constructed of logs for the use of their employees. After the company left Ponte Vedra, that real estate became the foundation of the Ponte Vedra Club. Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co. was a developer of Ponte Vedra Beach in the early 1930s and owned the Ponte Vedra Club.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vedra_Beach,_Florida
The Inn & Club's state-of-the-art conference room has more than 30,000 square feet of function space and can hold up to 450 people.
The Lodge & Club
Framed by palm trees and sand dunes, The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach sparkles as a sophisticated oceanfront beach resort and private membership club in Florida. Built in 1989, The Lodges Mediterranean-inspired architecture combines yesteryears grandeur and romance with todays conveniences.http://www.pontevedra.com/
200010 - The Lodge & Club enters into an aggressive phase of renovations and property enhancements to further add to the resorts overall appeal. Included are:
All 66 rooms and suites are renovated and upgraded resulting in recognition by the Florida Builders Association with their Award for Design Excellence.
An expansion and beautification of dining/banquet/meeting rooms.
A childrens playground is added to the delight of the young ones
The Gym is expanded and upgraded with state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
All guest rooms are equipped with wireless internet access.
The Lobby receives complete design makeover complete with the addition of a Gift Shop.
All dining spaces, both indoor and outdoor, receive a fresh and modern update.
An oceanfront lawn and fire pit is added to the list of event venues.
The state of Florida recognizes The Lodge & Club with the prestigious Palm Award for voluntarily adopting a variety of "green" practices that reduce waste and conserve natural resources
2011 A new and dramatic portico entrance is constructed to greet arriving guests. Accents such as glass mosaic tiles, driveway pavers, aesthetic lighting, plantation shutters and ornamental landscaping combine to create a modern and sophisticated entrance.
There are other various hotels and inns along Ponte Vedra Boulevard.
Golf has been a way of life in Ponte Vedra Beach since the Inn & Club introduced the first course to the region in 1928. Today, Ponte Vedra is recognized as one of the golf capitals on the east coast.http://www.pontevedra.com/
The Ocean Course and Lagoon Courselocated on-site at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Clubeach feature a distinct seaside links flavor. Meandering lagoons, undulating fairways, elevated Bermuda greens protected by steep-faced bunkers and a prevailing sea breeze provide for every kind of shot making challenge imaginable. All fourteen clubs are required here!
The Lodge & Club is located only 1.5 miles from the Ocean Course and the Lagoon Course where resort guests enjoy playing and charging privileges. Lodge & Club guests also enjoy access to the renowned TPC Stadium Course and the challenging Valley Course.
". . . . .one of the nation's classics since 1928."
Resort Award Winner, GOLF DIGEST
". . . . . Top 25 golf resorts in the Southeast."
". . . . . Ocean Course rated Top Ten Courses in Florida."
". . . . . Top 10 golf resorts in Florida."
Best of Golf Award, LINKS
". . . . . Top 75 golf resorts in America."
The backside of homes along the beach.
Visiting Ponte Vedra & Ponte Vedra Beach
Both communities are just off the south ramp where JTB East ends at the beach. PVB is wholly located east of the intracoastal waterway. In 2006, Ponte Vedra was made a distinct area separate from its Beach counterpart and given the zip code 32081 (PVB: 32082). They sit south of the Duval County line and north of Vilano Beach in St. Johns County.
Ponte Vedra Boulevard runs right along the beach from the north St. Johns County line down to
Historical photos courtesy of Florida State Archives.
Article and photos by Sarah Gojekian.