Located along the southern boundary of Jacksonville on the east banks of the St. Johns River, Mandarin was settled a bit later than other riverfront suburbs. By the 1830s, it was a significant agricultural outpost, producing citrus fruits that were carried to market by steamboat up the St. Johns River.
Despite its ongoing reputation as a sleepy hamlet, Mandarin has been the site of several major historical events - Native American attacks on civilian residents during the Seminole Wars in the first half of the 19th century¹ and the sinking of the Union ship Maple Leaf by a Confederate mine in 1864 just off Mandarin Point in the St Johns River.²
Mandarin's most famous early resident - and advocate - was actually a snowbird! Harriet Beecher Stowe bought a cottage just off what is now Mandarin Rd in 1867 and was so enamored with northeast Florida that she published a book extoling the climate, scenery, and residents. Her words helped Jacksonville establish itself as a winter destination for Northerners, a distinction the city held until the early 20th century. Other well-known Mandarin residents, past and present, include artists Memphis Wood, Charlie Brown, and C. Ford Riley.³
Mandarin remained a somewhat remote small town on the banks of the St. Johns River until the 1960s, when middle class flight from the urban core stretched southward into the area. Waves of new home construction filled out the area throughout the second half of the 20th century and lasted into the first decade of this century. The area is characterized by its decidedly suburban feel - subdivisions, strip malls, schools, and places of worship are the predominant features of the neighborhood. Today, two groups remain active in promoting the historical significance and preserving the few remaining historical structures in Mandarin - the Mandarin Community Club and the Mandarin Historical Society. Each year over Easter weekend, the Community Club hosts the Mandarin Art Festival, which claims to be the oldest continually running event of its kind in Northeast Florida.³
1. Cowart, John W. (c. 2005) The Mandarin Massacre . Retrieved April 23, 2015 from www.cowart.info/Florida%20History/mandarinmass/mandarin.htm.
2. Mandarin (Jacksonville). (2014, December 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mandarin_(Jacksonville)&oldid=640195846 .
3. Various pages. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.mandarinmuseum.net/about/history.