Ponte Vedra Beach certainly has come a long way since its' humble beginnings as Mineral City in the early 1900's. While Pablo Beach (later Jacksonville Beach) to the North was thriving, the no-man's land between Pablo Beach and the well established community of Saint Augustine was still a desolate section of land, with very few roads or amenities. In 1912, George Pritchard and Henry Holland Buckman (the namesake of the Buckman Bridge over the St. John's River) found numerous rare minerals in the sands of the beach area, including titanium, zircon, and rutile. They began mining these minerals, and named the settlement Mineral Beach. The area just West of the beach was known as Diego Plains (now known as Palm Valley), dating back to the period of Spanish control of Florida. As Buckman and Pritchard continued their mining operation, America found itself embroiled in World War I. This gave Buckman and Pritchard a profitable market for their minerals, which were used in munitions for the war effort. There were still few roads in the area. The only way to get from Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine was along the beach, at low tide. After the war, mining operations subsided, and the National Lead Co. in Pittsburgh, who Holland and Buckman had formed a partnership with, hired the Telfair Stockton Co. from Jacksonville to develop the parcel, some 18 miles of beachfront land. In 1928 they renamed the area Ponte Vedra Beach, after the town of Pontevedra in Spain. The developers successfully petitioned the government to begin construction on A1A. Ponte Vedra now had a North-South road to facilitate travel to the 2 cities on either side of it.
This area of Northeast Florida has grown steadily and rapidly since those early days. During Prohibition, the area known as Palm Valley served moonshiners well, with an abundance of water and lots of places to hide illegal stills. The development of the Ponte Vedra Club in 1928 has served as a bellwether of growth throughout the years - as the town grew, so did the Club. In 1942, Ponte Vedra Beach was the site of a German invasion of sorts. A German submarine came close to the shoreline, and 4 German saboteurs came ashore lugging a cache of explosives. Their goal was to bury the explosives, and come back for them as needed to blow up various targets throughout the country. After burying the explosives on the beach, they dressed in tourist attire, and blended in with the vacationing tourists. They made their way into Jacksonville Beach and then Jacksonville. They had 4 counterparts doing the same thing in Long Island, NY. When 1 of the saboteurs turned himself in, all 8 were captured. 6 were executed, the other 2 were imprisoned. The explosives were excavated and destroyed. Prior to the war, Mickler's Landing (pronounced Mike-lers) was a popular fishing spot and beach area. after a hurricane destroyed the pier in 1945, it was torn down, and subsequently donated to the city. To this day, Mickler's Landing Beach is the only public beach access in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The 1960's through the 1980's saw the largest boom in the area. Two enterprising developers, Paul and Jerome Fletcher realized that the PGA Tour was looking to move its' headquarters from Washington D.C., and sold 415 acres to Commissioner Deane Beman for $1. The Tour headquarters opened in 1980, and in 1982, The Player's Championship was held there for the 1st time. It is still played there every May. Also in the early 1980's, Arvida Corp., owned by Artur Vining Davis opened the gated Sawgrass Player's Club, across from Sawgrass Country Club. Ponte Vedra then had 2 world class golf communities.
Today, Ponte Vedra Beach is among the most tony and prestigious beachside communities in Northeast Florida. Known for its designer shops and upscale restaurants, it also boasts the Mayo Clinic, and some of the best schools in the area. Manicured roadways and gated communities are the norm here, rather than the exception. Some of the more affluent communities are Marsh Landing, Sawgrass Player's Club, L'Atrium, and Ponte Vedra Lakes. The expansive Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is still the focal point of this exquisite community.