For years, the land now known as Ponte Vedra Beach was almost entirely undeveloped.
Even as beach-side communities like Pablo Beach, American Beach, and others popped up to the north, and with the presence of St. Augustine to the south, the land managed to remain untouched into the early 20th century.
In the 1910s, this would all change very rapidly with the discovery that the area’s beach-side sands were filled with valuable minerals.
It was during this decade that Buckman and Pritchard Mining Company – co-owned by the son of prominent Jax attorney Henry H. Buckman – began extracting titanium, zircon, and rutile (a form of titanium) from the beach sands. These minerals were all of great value – especially for production of weaponry during World War I.
As a result, a community largely driven by workers grew around the mining operations. The area became known as Mineral City and town amenities were built to support this growing neighborhood.
In 1921, Buckman and Pritchard’s company sold off the mineral extraction operations – and their land holdings – to National Lead Company.
Shifts in demand meant that the minerals being mined at Mineral City were becoming gradually less profitable – and the area’s resources were being depleted rather rapidly. By the end of the ‘20s, National Lead Company opted to shut down the sand mining and rebrand the beautiful beachfront land as a resort community.
The company commissioned the construction of a nine-hole golf course and clubhouse, and brought in a veteran employee, Col. Joseph Stehlin, to manage the community.
It was Stehlin and his wife who researched potential names for the community and settled on a name derived from the Spanish town of Pontevedra – the name of which is thought to have Latin origins.
The newly-named Ponte Vedra community would build around the clubhouse, which became Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. After around five years of developing the community, National Lead Company sold the land to Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co., a Jacksonville-based firm that had previously developed the San Marco area.
They would then continue the framework laid by National Lead Company, turning the Ponte Vedra Beach area into the upscale resort community it is today.
Next time you’re visiting Ponte Vedra Beach, remember that it all started with beachfront sand filled with natural resources – and the small town of Mineral City.
Very interesting article, I love reading history of the beaches.