Metro Jacksonville visits the downtown of a small town community just outside of our city limits: Macclenny.
During the mid-19th century, a small community began to grown on filled marsh near the Little Saint Mary's River 28 miles west of Jacksonville. Located along the Florida Railway & Navigation Company Railroad on property owned by the Darby family, the rural community became known as Darbyville. Early growth in Darbyville came after the Civil War as Northerners settled in the state for health, curiosity and investment.
By the 1880s, when neighboring Jacksonville was enjoying the Gilded Age, Darbyville was still a little village with dusty streets. While Jacksonville's economy diversified as it grew into Florida's largest city of the era, Darbyville's economy was anchored by turpentine and logging. In 1890, Darbyville was renamed Macclenny after Carr Bowers McClenny, who married one of the Darby girls and purchased most of the land in the area. At the time, the city had a population of 334 residents. Growth would remain fairly stagnant throughout the first half of the 20th century. Despite the statewide land boom of the 1920s, the city's population had only grown to 519 by 1930. Prior to World War II, Macclenny's population remained less than 1,000.
The completion of Interstate 10 through Baker County has led to significant growth and opportunity in the area. Today, Macclenny covers 4.7 square miles and is home to nearly 6,500 residents. Between 2000 and 2010, the city's population has grown by 43%, signaling that its best days appear to be ahead of it.
US 90/Macclenny Avenue
Macclenny Avenue, also known as US 90 and Beaver Street in Jacksonville, is the primary thoroughfare through downtown Macclenny. Between 1890 and 1940, Macclenny's population increased by 437 to 771 residents. Since 1940, the majority of the city's growth has been outward, preserving the small town rural charm of the city's core.
Baker County Courthouse