A Brief History
of Ponte Vedra Beach and Rotary’s Mineral City Celebration:
You may wonder why the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach named its annual fundraiser “Mineral City Celebration.” Well, unbeknown to many, Ponte Vedra Beach was once a place of heavy industry!
In the early 1900s, in fact, the area was known as Mineral City due to the large deposits of titanium, zircon, and rutile being discovered and extracted from its beaches. For quite some time, Mineral City acted almost exclusively as a mining operation before evolving into a frontier town with workers’ quarters, a post office, and general store. In the early 20th century, this mining business was very profitable due to the outbreak of World War I. Titanium was an extremely important mineral at this time, as it was used in smoke screens, while other minerals in the area were used to make metal for weapons.
These early mining efforts were under the control of Henry Holland Buckman (the Buckman Bridge's namesake) and George Pritchard until 1921, when their company, Buckman and Pritchard Inc., sold its mining rights to the National Lead Company.
When the post-war demand for minerals dropped significantly, however, the National Lead Company decided to change its business focus, capitalizing on the area’s natural beauty by building a resort community. They brought in the Telfair Stockton Company to begin real estate development of the site. Since the area was being developed for an affluent clientele, one of the first tasks was to change the name from Mineral City to something with a little more upscale appeal. An article on Ponte Vedra Beach, Spain, and its erroneous claim to being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus swayed the decision.
The name Ponte Vedra Beach was chosen. The last vestiges of the mining past were obliterated, the slate cleaned and Ponte Vedra Beach was on its way. The focus became parks, golf courses, and resort-style communities. One of the first developments included the Ponte Vedra Country Club in 1928.
By 1942, the National Lead Company sold its interest in Ponte Vedra Beach to the locally driven Ponte Vedra Beach Corporation. The community rapidly developed into a year-round resort community with a substantial permanent population and today, Ponte Vedra Beach is considered one of the most luxurious recreational and residential locations in the country.
The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach honors our community’s past by naming its annual fundraiser the Mineral City Celebration. We also honor a local resident each year for their contribution to the community with the “Rock of the Community Award.” This year’s event, titled “GATSBY,” will be a 1920s themed affair to be held May 4th at TPC Sawgrass.