In 1950, Lewis Point Properties Inc., of Jacksonville acquired a tract of land and expanded its land holdings from the north bank of Moultrie Creek to almost where SR 312 passes, now. This began the push to develop St. Augustine South neighborhood from the marsh-front forest that bordered the Matanzas River. Houses were sporadically built in 1954 and then the St. Augustine South acreage was purchased and platted by Florida Speaks Corp. of St Petersburg in 1954.
Photographs from 1954 show bulldozing and digging. Brochures advertised the South as the solution to winter vacation and retirement problems FOREVER! Emphasis was on Florida sunshine and that the full price was only $250 per lot which were all 40 feet by 100 feet. A minimum of two lots and no more than five lots were to be sold to a purchaser, with a requirement for a minimum of three lots for corner homesites. Best of all, purchasers could put $25 down and then pay $5 per month. Unbelievable as it may seem now, people bought lots by mail order without seeing the property.
St. Augustine South Improvement Association (SASIA) was incorporated following a community meeting in November 1957, on December 11, 1957, with 55 members. Improvements proposed were street improvements, improvement of the park areas, police and fire protection, streetlights, garbage disposal, mail delivery, numbering of the houses, and cleaning of vacant lots.
The January 1958 SASIA meeting, held at a neighbor’s home, decided to start a garbage collection service which cost participating homeowners $1.25 per month. There was discussion on selecting a site for a proposed community center. Joseph Bains – a resident homeowner and proprietor of Bains, the building company that built many homes in the South, offered to design the building. SASIA members with building skills would build the community center, and others donate cash and kind for the building materials. However, the two sites under consideration were in the Shore Drive greenway and had already been deeded to the County. House delivery of mail in the South commenced April 1958. 1958 also saw documentation of the first complaints about speeding on neighborhood roads. SASIA took the complaints to the County Commissioners, who undertook to put up speed limit signs. SASIA also moved to create a sanitary district, to comply with county regulations, so that the neighborhood would be protected by County fire protection. The South had a dedicated firehouse—number 5—on St. Augustine South Drive until 2019 when it moved to newly constructed premises at 3360 US-1. The new firehouse number 5, also replaced firehouse number 11, serving St. Augustine Shores. The County demolished the old number 5 firehouse in St. Augustine South, and Parks and Recreation are in 2021-22 considering future use of their property.
After 1958, the historical records for St. Augustine South are missing for several years and we are dependent on newspaper cuttings, primarily from the St. Augustine Record, and the personal recollections of the then SASIA President, which were committed to paper years later. SASIA was in discussion with the County Commissioners about zoning the subdivision in 1964 with a County hearing on the zoning resolution held at the end of May. This was needed, after the developer relinquished approval of building plans, to ensure new homes were compliant with their building standards, lot sizes and setbacks. St. Johns County established Zoning for the South on May 28, 1964 – the third County area to be zoned – with a Zoning Inspector, who lived in the South, appointed. From that time, deed restrictions ceased to be applied to new homes, as the standards were determined by County Zoning.
St. Augustine South Corporation eventually gave SASIA several lots on Royal Rd. for a community center, then referred to as ‘community house’, and now known as the SASIA Clubhouse. Further lots were purchased with donations from residents to a total 12 lots or nearly one acre of land. In 1963, with help from other men in the community, Joe Bain built the clubhouse virtually at cost. SASIA negotiated donations of facing bricks, lumber for the interior, insulation, baseboards and flooring, and kitchen equipment from local businesses. Residents donated window drapes and plants for the garden. Later, the clubhouse was extended to provide additional storage. All of us now living in the South benefit from the generosity of early residents in time and kind, as well as the cash donations, to the Community Clubhouse and grounds at 709 Royal Rd. SASIA enjoys close collaborative relations with St Johns County Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec. acquired the land south from Martin Road, adjacent to the east of the SASIA property. The County Picnic Shelter and access walkway are on SASIA land, and the SASIA Clubhouse septic system is on County land. Parks and Rec. also mow the SASIA grass when they mow the grass on their own land.
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