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Old Town Fernandina Historic District

The late 19th and early 20th century wood frame buildings of the Old Town Fernandina Historic District on the northern tip of Amelia Island belie the Spanish origins of the town. The northern end of the island has been occupied by Europeans since the 17th century. In 1696 the site was the location of a Spanish mission and fort, and the British occupied the island in the 18th century. Following the Revolution, Spain regained control of the area and by 1811 officially established the "Town of Fernandina" named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain. Fernandina was the last town established by Spain in North America and was intended to stop U.S. territorial expansion. Fort San Carlos was constructed in 1816 to protect Spanish interests in Northern Florida. In the following years Fernandina was captured and recaptured by a succession of renegades and privateers. U.S. troops occupied the town until 1821 when Florida was ceded to the U. S. However, Fernandina failed to thrive. The construction of Fort Clinch in 1847 led to the abandonment of Fort San Carlos. In 1853 the town site was moved further south, due to the construction of a railroad line and subsequent tourism boom. The original town plan and regular street grid planned by the Spanish remain.

Old Town Fernandina Historic District is located just north of the present city of Fernandina Beach off North 14th Street. The boundaries of the Old Town Fernandina Historic District are Marine, Towngate, Garden, and Ladies Street.

Fernandina Beach Historic District

The Fernandina Beach Historic District represents the development of Fernandina in its new location to the south of Old Town Fernandina. A catalyst for this development was the construction of the railroad and the subsequent tourist boom during the late 19th century. Fernandina's location at the head of the rail line, and its natural harbor on the Amelia River, launched an economy based on shipping, fishing, forestry, and tourism. Many of the popular architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are represented in residential Fernandina. Among the best examples of these are the Italianate style Fairbanks House with its large square tower (7th Street); the Palace Saloon built in the Beaux Arts style with a period interior, pressed tin ceilings and murals from 1907 (Atlantic Avenue), the Fernandina Beach Courthouse, one of the finest surviving Victorian courthouses in the state (Atlantic Avenue and 5th Street); and Villas Las Palmas, an eclectic California Mission style residence built in 1910. Other fine examples are found in the 100 block of N. 6th Street, called the "Silk Stocking District," where many of Fernandina Beach's most prominent citizens built their homes.

Fernandina Beach Historic District is at the north end of Amelia Island in the city of Fernandina Beach and is roughly bounded by Sixth, Broome, N. Third, Escambia, Seventh, Date, and Ash Streets. For more information call the Chamber of Commerce at (904) 261-3248.

Information provided by:
National Park Service