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Clay County
Fleming Island | Green Cove Springs | Keystone Heights | Middleburg | Orange Park | Penney Farms

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Clay County is a diverse mixture of suburban and rural areas spread over 592 square miles nestled along the banks of the St. Johns River. The county is located within close proximity to Jacksonville and is business friendly.

Fleming Island
(Eagle Harbor ... Fleming Island Plantation ... Pace Island)

flemingislandA highly disciplined and spiritual woman, Margaret Seton Fleming had a working knowledge of trade, business and politics, as well as domestic subjects. In 1837, she moved to Hibernia Plantation with her new husband, Lewis Fleming, whose father George had received Fleming Island as a 1790 land grant from the king of Spain. In the years to come, she would twice witness the destruction of the plantation and twice bring it back from ashes.

Her dream from the time she arrived at Hibernia as a 24-year-old bride was to have a "properclaycounty chapel" on the grounds. Construction on the church in the Carpenter Gothic style was begun in 1875 and completed in 1878. Sadly, Margaret died only months before its completion and its first service was her funeral.

Today, Fleming Island is again being rebuilt with many new communities that retain the family-oriented character of the early settlements. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the county.

Perhaps the biggest lure of Fleming Island is its sheer beauty. Hundred-year-old oak and magnolia trees have been carefully preserved and the many waterways have been kept clean and clear.

The developers in the area have taken a clue from the generations who came before and have nestled their homes into the trees, along the rivers and creeks, and next to preserved wetlands. Even the names of many communities, Hibernia Plantation,Margaret's Walk and Fleming Island Plantation, honor those who originally settled the area.

Green Cove Springs

green cove
Green Cove Springs was a booming town on a bend of the St. Johns River early in the 1900s. River steamers brought visitors to the "Saratoga of the South," noted for the health-giving qualities of its spring. Its hotels and boarding houses rivaled the best northern resorts.

As an expanding railroad system carried tourists south, Green Cove Springs saw its first decline. Grand hotels, most made of wood, were left to disrepair or burned down.

The city experienced renewed development in the 1940s with the war-time construction of Benjamin Lee Field, a 1,500-acre air auxiliary complex, by the U.S. Navy. After the war, the base became home port to a fleet of 600 ships.

Green Cove Springs experienced yet another decline when the Navy decommissioned its base in 1961.

But Green Cove (many residents shorten the name) may be on the brink of another period of growth. Its population is 5,300, according to the

2000 Census, up from 4,700 in 1990.

There are many older homes in Green Cove, which is the county seat, but new development is also springing up. Magnolia Point, a golf and country club off of U.S. Highway 17, is home to 450 families and is zoned for about 1,000.

Recreational opportunities also abound. Spring Park, a beautiful layout along the St. Johns River next to City Hall and a new City Hall under construction, features playground equipment, picnic facilities, gazebo, spring-fed pool and a 500-foot city pier with 12 boat slips. There are also many community-wide events.

Keystone Heights
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Parks and Recreation

Paradise is what many people call the small picturesque community of Keystone Heights at the southern tip of Clay County amid numerous sandbottomed lakes.
keystone heights
Keystone was settled by Pennsylvanians drawn to these numerous lakes in the early 1920s. The town's name was derived from Pennsylvania's nickname - the Keystone State - and for the area's unusual hilly terrain.

Today, Keystone Heights is a small, peaceful, family-oriented town, with most businesses family-owned. Many residents belong to civic and social organizations such as the Federated Women's Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club and Kiwanis Club.
There are numerous recreational opportunities, including a beach with bathhouses and shaded picnic tables, public boat ramps, lighted tennis courts, nature trails and the Keystone Golf and Country Club.


Twenty-five years ago, dirt roads were common, you rarely saw a street sign and most residents came to Middleburg looking for a way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Now, most - if not all - of that has changed.

As Jacksonville and Northeast Florida continue to grow, home buyers looking for larger home sites or a simpler, less-rushed way of life are rediscovering Middleburg, southwest of Orange Park.

Spurred by new water and septic lines coming into the community, a great deal of commercial building has occurred, including new fast-food restaurants and retail outlets. This has led to increased property values and has made Middleburg more appealing to commuters.

Again, the excellent reputation of the Clay County public schools helps make Middleburg even more attractive.

Orange Park

The town of Orange Park stretches along the western bank of the St. Johns River, which is the nation's longest north-flowing river and Florida's largest. Once known as Laurel Grove after the name of the old Kingsley Plantation, the area now known as Orange Park was incorporated into Clay County in 1877.

Developers from Massachusetts enticed relocaters into the area by planting orange groves. People flocked to the area not only for Florida's amiable climate, but for the orange crops, a valuable commodity. The orange groves died out in harsh freezes in the mid-1890s, but a strong community flourishes in their place. Orange Park is now Clay County's largest city, with about 10,000 residents.

Orange Park sits on a high and dry area featuring beautiful oak trees and splendid vistas along the St. Johns River. Convenient to Interstates 10, 95 and 295, many residents have chosen Orange Park to live and raise their families, but work elsewhere.

Wells Road has been dubbed "Restaurant Row" for all of its dining options. Jacksonville International Airport, downtown Jacksonville and the Beaches are also all within a 45-minute drive.

Another big draw to Orange Park is Clay County's top-rated school system. The area also has many recreational activities.

Because of its proximity to the St. Johns River, there are many private and public docks and marinas. Orange Park also boasts a 9-mile jogging and mountain biking trail, which winds parallel with U.S. Highway 17, and a newly built 1.5-mile concrete riverwalk along the St. Johns River. The Orange Park Kennel Club (greyhound track) has been in Orange Park since the 1930s.

Penney Farms

The town's name is, indeed, from department store icon J.C. Penney, who, in 1923, founded an experimental farming community where destitute farmers could live and work until they rebuilt their lives.

Next to his "Penney Farms", 8 miles west of Green Cove Springs, he built 196 apartment units. The Memorial Home Community became a retirement home for ministers and gospel workers and their wives and was dedicated in 1926 in memory of Penney's father, a minister, and his mother.

Today, Penney Farms is a self-sufficient town of about 710 people (with a median age of 79 years), 475 of which live in Memorial Home Community, now a historic district.

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