Ponte Vedra and The Beaches is a wealthy unincorporated seaside community and suburb of Jacksonville, Florida in St. Johns County, Florida. Located 18 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville and 26 miles north of St. Augustine, it is part of the Jacksonville Beaches area, and on the island nicknamed San Pablo Island.
The area is known for its resorts including the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, the Lodge and Club, and the Marriott at Sawgrass. It also lies within St. Johns County, which is the wealthiest county in Florida. Ponte Vedra Beach is an upper-income tourist resort area best known for its association with golf and is home to the PGA Tour and the Players Championship. What is now north Florida was visited several times by European explorers in the 16th century, but there is little evidence for them specifically coming to Ponte Vedra Beach. It may have been sighted by Juan Ponce de León during his voyage to Florida in 1513, but as his precise landfall is unknown, this claim can be made by many communities on the east coast of Florida.
The area remained sparsely populated through the late 19th century, even as other seaside communities began to develop to the north. In 1914 minerals were discovered, and a community known as Mineral City grew up around the mining operations. Titanium (ilmenite) extraction was significant, as well as that of zircon and rutile. These minerals were recovered from beach sands by the Buckman and Pritchard Mining Company. The National Lead Company bought Buckman and Pritchard in 1921 and discontinued mining the minerals as demand dropped after World War I. In 1929 it began to develop the area to be similar to The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia. Colonel Joseph C. Stehlin, who had been with the company in St. Louis, arrived on January 1, 1929 to manage the development.
The company wanted a more impressive name than Mineral City for its resort, so Colonel Stehlin and his wife, Elizabeth (née Morton), went to the library in St. Augustine to research various possibilities for a new name. Since Florida had been under Spanish rule, they looked on an old map and found the name Pontevedra on the Atlantic coast of Spain at “approximately” the same latitude as Mineral City. (Pontevedra, Spain, however, is over 800 miles farther north at about the same latitude as Boston.) The Galician name of the town was derived from a Roman bridge (“pontis vetera” or “old bridge”) that spanned the nearby Lérez River centuries earlier. Colonel Stehlin submitted the name to the National Lead board for approval and Mineral City became Ponte Vedra.
In the early 1920s, the National Lead Company built a nine-hole golf course designed by Herbert Bertram Strong, one of the founders of the PGA, plus a 12-room clubhouse constructed of logs for the use of its employees. After the company left the area, that real estate became the foundation of the Ponte Vedra Club. Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co., a local developer, became the owner of the Ponte Vedra Corporation in July 1934.
In 1972, real estate developers broke ground on the 1,100-acre Sawgrass development. In the mid 1970s, Deane Beman, the Commissioner of the PGA golf tour, was looking for a permanent home for the Tournament Players Championship. Many places in northern Florida were being considered. In an attempt to bring positive attention to the area, developer Paul Fletcher offered a 400-acre tract of land to Beman for $1.
Beman could not refuse this one dollar deal for the future home of The Players Championship and the headquarters of the PGA Tour. The Sawgrass Stadium Course has been the permanent home of The Players Championship since 1982.
Median household income in Ponte Vedra Beach is $102,918 and median family income is $109,181. The median age of the people and Ponte Vedra reveals it has 49.0 overall median age of all people which is the 2nd most of all the places in the area. The place with the highest overall median age of all people in the area is Sawgrass with an age of 55.8 measures 13.9% larger. The Ponte Vedra area is known for being a very influential area of North Florida, and boasts one of the best school districts in Florida. Ponte Vedra Beach was 50th on the list of 100 finalists for CNN and Money Magazine’s 2005 List of the Best Places to Live. It was the first place in Florida to be named in that year and one of only four areas in the state to make the cut. As of August 1, 2012 the average house costs around $720,000.
Public primary and secondary schools in Ponte Vedra Beach are administered by the St. Johns County School District. Allen D. Nease High School and Ponte Vedra High School, which was constructed to relieve the overcrowding of Allen D. Nease High School, serve as the two public high schools in the Ponte Vedra area. Alice B. Landrum Middle School is one of the primary, public middle schools in the area. There is also a K-8 school in the area called Valley Ridge Academy. The Ponte Vedra Palm Valley-Rawlings Elementary School serves as one of the primary, public elementary schools (K-5) in the area, as well as Ocean Palms Elementary School.
Ponte Vedra offers private education (K-8) at the Palmer Catholic Academy. Also, the Bolles School has one of their two lower school campuses in Ponte Vedra Beach, and offers education from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade before transferring students to the middle and high schools located in Jacksonville, Florida.