If you’re not a resident of the St. Nicholas neighborhood, it’s quite possible that you’ve never noticed the old St. Nicholas Train Station building that sits along Atlantic Boulevard within the aptly-named St. Nicholas Train Station Park.
But the station building, which has survived over 100 years and two relocations, is an important piece of local rail history that would have been met with an unceremonious demise if not for the efforts of local preservationists.
The single-room structure was constructed around the turn of the twentieth century, shortly after Florida East Coast Railway Co. took control of what was previously known as the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company. It served as a stop along a railway line that ran from South Jacksonville to Mayport and Jacksonville Beach.
The building served as the line’s depot for the historic St. Nicholas neighborhood, located to the east of what was then the city of South Jacksonville.
The line operated until FEC’s demise in the early 1930s, brought about in part by the Great Depression. Later that decade, the construction of Beach Boulevard brought about the removal of almost all remnants of the old railway line. The St. Nicholas station building was moved to a property off of Linden Avenue, where it remained for decades.
The structure was set to be demolished in the early 2000s, but local preservation group St. Nicholas Area Preservation and then-councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins worked together to instead have it relocated once again, this time to Traymore Park. The park, which first opened in 1940, sits at the border of the St. Nicholas and Spring Park neighborhoods along Atlantic Boulevard.
The station building was relocated in 2004 and restored by the newly-formed St. Nicholas Business Association, with the help of funding from St. Nicholas Area Preservation, local business owners, and the city. The park was renamed in 2008 to reflect its new occupant.
Since then, the old station has been utilized sporadically by St. Nicholas Business Association for community events, including Christmas parties featuring St. Nicholas himself.
The St. Nicholas station stands as one of just two rail depots left from the old Beaches route; the other is located in Jax Beach. While it may not look like much, its presence plays an important role in keeping Jax’s extensive passenger rail history alive.