June 20, 2020
Mandarin is on State Road 13 on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida. It had an identity as a separate town, but is now part of Jacksonville.
It prospered in the late 1800's as a bustling farm village that shipped citrus and vegetables to northern cities via steamboats that plied the river.
Mandarin was named in 1830 after the Mandarin Orange by an early settler in the area named Calvin Reed. Citrus used to grow well in this area until the Great Freezes at the end of the 1800s.
Like many small villages near major Florida cities, Mandarin has been surrounded by residential and commercial developments.
You still get a sense of its history and tranquility once you get off busy State Road 13 and take a leisurely drive along the road that parallels the St Johns River.
Mandarin is probably most famous as the Florida home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
Abraham Lincoln once referred to her as the little lady that started a great war.
Mrs. Stowe also wrote about Florida, a place she called a "Tropical Paradise." She wrote a book in 1872 titled "Palmetto Leaves" that is considered to be one of the first "promotional" books about the state.
One reminder of the old days is the Church of Our Saviour, an example of Florida Carpenter Gothic architecture that stands on the banks of the St. Johns River.
Mrs. Stowe and her husband attended church at this location for many years.
Although the original church was totally destroyed by Hurricane Dora in 1964, a new chapel of similar design was built on the same site with pieces salvaged from the old church.
This building still serves today as the meeting place of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.
The village is an example of Old Florida with huge ancient oak trees providing canopies over the narrow streets. The Spanish Moss drifting in the breeze is on every tree, and several quiet parks provide a place to rest.
You can learn about the history and culture of Mandarin at the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society
Mandarin today is surrounded by nice residential subdivisions, but it's still possible to recapture the serenity and peacefulness of the formerly isolated village by relaxing in one of the parks.
12903 Hood Landing Road
Jacksonville, Florida 32258
Clark's Fish Camp is a dining tradition in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville.
It is located in a rustic structure on Julington Creek on Hood Landing Road. Take Julington Creek Road east from State Road 13 for about two miles and you will come to Hood Landing Road.
Go south on it for a short distance to Julington Creek and Clark's. People visit Clark's both by boat and car. The food at Clark's is above average, but the atmosphere is unlike anything else you will find in Florida.
The interior is loaded with what many consider to be the world's largest private taxidermy collection, artistically displayed.