Pablo Beach
(Ruby Beach)
(Jacksonville Beach)
Duval County, Florida

Florida East Coast Railway
The Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company was chartered in 1883 to build sixteen and a half miles of narrow gauge
railway from South Jacksonville to the Ruby Beach settlement. The company acquired many acres of choice oceanfront
property which was divided into lots. By November 12, 1884, Ruby was ready for the first buyers of the subdivided lots.
About fifty prospective buyers arrived by excursion boats. In all, thirty-four lots were sold that day for a grand total of
$7,514. In 1886, Ruby was renamed Pablo Beach after the San Pablo River to the west that divides the island from the

Pablo Beach tourism began when John G. Christopher and his wife built the fabulous Murray Hall Hotel in 1886 and
equipped it for $150,000 dollars. Located a block from the ocean at what is now the corner of First Street North and
Beach Boulevard, its 200-350 guests enjoyed fireplaces, water from its own artesian wells, and electricity generated by
the hotel’s power plant. (The Murray Hall Hotel burned on August 7, 1890.)

In 1886, St Paul’s-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church was created by congregants who met in the Murray Hall Hotel. The
land was donated by the J & A Railroad in 1887. By 1890, Father William Kenny established St Paul’s Catholic Mission
on 1st Street South.

1892 Handbook of Florida
Hotel, Murray Hall, $2.50 to $4 a day. by Jacksonville & Atlantic Railroad, ferry from foot of Newnan Street, Jacksonville,
17 miles (fifty-five minutes).

The line is nearly straight to the eastward, from South Jacksonville, passing a few unimportant stations in the pine forest,
and crossing a wide prairie just before reaching the coast. The village of Pablo is mainly a seaside resort, with a fine
hotel, and a superb bathing-beach three hundred feet wide at low tide. The seaward slope of this beach is only eight
inches in one hundred feet, so that to the eye it is apparently level, and as the beach is absolutely free from
irregularities, the bathing is safe, even for children. Sand dunes covered with beach-scrub and occasional cabbage-
palms define the shore line, and for a mile these are crowned with cottages, hotels, and other buildings suited to a
seaside resort, among them a sanitarium belonging to a large Catholic institution of Jacksonville. The large hotel,
Murray hall, is cleverly contrived to give its guests all possible advantage of its fine situation, the parlor windows
commanding an outlook to sea, northward up the beach to Mayport, and southward till the breaking surf and the gray
beach disappear in the haze.

Carriages and horses for riding and driving on the beach can be had from a well-furnished livery stable, at reasonable
rates. Visitors for the day have ample time for an exhilarating drive on the beach in either direction, and it is possible
even to drive to Burnside or Mayport, and return to town either by boat or rail from one of those points.

Spanish American War
After the war began in 1898, some of the troops sent to Jacksonville recuperated from typhoid fever at Pablo Beach.
Eventually, some 1,400 soldiers were stationed there.

FEC Railroad
Flagler bought the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company in 1899 and changed the narrow gauge, light rail road to
standard gauge with 60-pound rails. He made the beaches railroad part of the FEC system. He extended the line to
Mayport; built a spur to Mineral City when mining began there. In 1900, on March 9th, the first FEC train, which had
taken over from the Jacksonville & Atlantic Railroad, arrived in Pablo Beach. The engine burned wood until the railroad
was extended to Mayport where it could get coal. In 1915, the FEC began converting to oil fueled engines but also ran a
gas electric to Pablo beach that service stopped in 1920.

1910 FEC monopoly ends
Atlantic Boulevard to great fanfare on July 28, 1910 provided a viable alternative to the FEC train. In May, 1923, the
county passed a bond issue of $2.55 million to build a concrete, lighted highway.

Pablo Beach was incorporated on May 22, 1907.

Jacksonville Beach
On February 9, 1925 a mass meeting was held to rename Pablo Beach to Jacksonville Beach. The city council ratified
the decision with 75% wanting to change. Residents decided their future lay with being associated with the city to the
west hoping it will mean growth for their little city. grow. The government also extended the city limits west to Pablo
Creek, north to Atlantic Boulevard, and one mile further south.

The Roman Catholic Church had a convent. North of the Episcopal Church on the same block was the Friendly House, a
home where young women could stay. St. Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Church had been built at the corner of
Shetter Avenue and 7th Street South. To the west of 3rd St and south of the railroad, the African-American settlement
had grown. Besides the downtown area, the city extended south about ten blocks and west about eight blocks. To the
north, the city extended about a mile with scattered houses and then skipped further north to Neptune and its few
Murray Hall Hotel
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
ca 1888
Ocean View Hotel
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
Colonel William J. Bryan 3rd Nebraska Volunteers at Pablo Beach
Three time Presidential Candidate and future Secretary of State
Spanish-American War
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
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