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Historical Significance of Fort George Island

Native Americans feasted, colonists built a fort and the “smart set” of the 1920s travelled here for vacations. A site of human occupation for more than 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it still was a British colony.

In 1989, as part of the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program, the state of Florida purchased 581 acres on Fort George Island. The purchase ensured the preservation of a number of natural and cultural resources for the public to enjoy.

A key element of the state park is the Ribault Clubhouse. Built in 1928 atop the shell middens left by natives hundreds of years ago, the Ribault Club was a product of its times. For wealthy northerners and citizens of Jacksonville, the club epitomized the carefree and fun-loving attitude of the post-war 1920s. Members of the Ribault Club in the 1920s and 30s participated in a variety of recreational activities, including lawn bowling, yachting and golf. The golf course was designed in the Scottish-style, meaning more natural landscapes and fairways. Yet like so many businesses and fortunes, the club suffered the financial downfall of the Great Depression and changed hands many times before the Florida Park Service purchased it in 1989. The Florida Park Service continued operating the golf course through 1991.

Today, through a partnership between the Florida Park Service, the National Park Service and the city of Jacksonville, the Ribault Club stands restored and houses the park's visitor center, as well as meeting and reception rooms available for rent. Visitors to Fort George Island once again can experience a taste of the glamour that attracted people to the club more than 80 years ago, with the additional beauty of the old golf course, which has been allowed to return to its natural state.

Some of the programs available on the historical significance and landmarks of Fort George are:

ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY OF FORT GEORGE ISLAND -- semi-annual

EXPLORING THE HISTORIC LANDSCAPE OF FORT GEORGE -- annual

THE McGUNDO HOUSE RE-STABILIZATION -- annual

DISCOVERING ARCHAEOLOGY -- semi-annual

POTSHERDS AND ANCIENT PEOPLE -- semi-annual

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Drive Time:

  • Jacksonville 45 min
  • St Augustine 1 hr 30 min
  • Savannah 2 hrs
  • Orlando 3 hrs
  • Tampa 4 hrs
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