Fernandina Beach
City of Fernandina Beach
Images from top, left to right: Beach, statue of a pirate (the mascot of Fernandina Beach High School), Nassau County Courthouse (Florida), shrimp statue (representing the annual Shrimp Festival), United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912), Fort Clinch, Old School House, Fort Clinch Pier
Images from top, left to right: Beach, statue of a pirate (the mascot of Fernandina Beach High School), Nassau County Courthouse (Florida), shrimp statue (representing the annual Shrimp Festival), United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912), Fort Clinch, Old School House, Fort Clinch Pier
Official seal of Fernandina Beach
Isle of 8 Flags
Location in Nassau County and the state of Florida
Location in Nassau County and the state of Florida
Fernandina Beach is located in the United States
Fernandina Beach
Fernandina Beach
Location in the U.S.
Coordinates: 30°40′10″N 81°27′42″W / 30.66944°N 81.46167°W / 30.66944; -81.46167
CountryUnited States of America
 • TypeCommissioner-Manager
 • MayorBradley Bean
 • Vice MayorDavid Sturges
 • CommissionersJames Antun,
Darron Ayscue, and
Ronald "Chip" Ross
 • City ManagerTy Ross
 • City ClerkCaroline Best
 • Total12.62 sq mi (32.68 km2)
 • Land11.83 sq mi (30.64 km2)
 • Water0.79 sq mi (2.04 km2)
25 ft (7.6 m)
 • Total13,052
 • Density1,103.11/sq mi (425.92/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)904, 324
FIPS code12-22175[2]
GNIS feature ID0294308[3]

Fernandina Beach is a city in northeastern Florida and the county seat of Nassau County, Florida, United States. It is the northernmost city on Florida's Atlantic coast, situated on Amelia Island, and is one of the principal municipalities comprising Greater Jacksonville. The area was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indian people. Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags", Amelia Island has had the flags of the following nations flown over it: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Republic of East Florida (1812), the Republic of the Floridas (1817), Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States.

The French, English, and Spanish all maintained a presence on Amelia Island at various times during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, but the Spanish established Fernandina. The town of Fernandina, which was about a mile from the present city, was named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by the governor of the Spanish province of East Florida, Enrique White.[4] Fernandina has the distinction of being the last Spanish city platted in the Western Hemisphere, in 1811.[5]

According to the 2020 census, the city population was 13,052. It is the seat of Nassau County.[6] It is also the largest incorporated city in the county since Yulee is an unincorporated town.


Fernandina Beach, December 1924

Prior to the arrival of Europeans on what is now Amelia Island, Native Americans occupied the site of the original town of Fernandina.[7] Native American bands associated with the Timucuan mound-building culture had settled on the island about 1000 CE, calling it Napoyca. They remained on the island until the early 18th century, when European settlement began.

Old Town Fernandina

Main article: Original Town of Fernandina Historic Site

On January 1, 1811, Enrique White, governor of Spain's East Florida province, named the town of Fernandina, about a mile from the present city, in honor of King Ferdinand VII. On May 10 of that year,[8] Fernandina became the last town platted under the Laws of the Indies in the Western hemisphere. The town was intended as a bulwark against U.S. territorial expansion. In the following years, it was captured and recaptured by a succession of renegades and privateers.

Republic of East Florida

At the beginning of the Patriot War, with the approval of President James Madison and Georgia Governor George Mathews on March 13, 1812,[9] insurgents known as the "Patriots of Amelia Island" seized the island. After raising a Patriot flag, they replaced it with the United States flag. American gunboats under the command of Commodore Hugh Campbell maintained control of the island. On May 15, 1812, the British brig. Sappho fired on Gunboat no. 168, which had fired on the loyalist merchant vessel Fernando to prevent her leaving. Outgunned, the American gunboat withdrew, which enabled several vessels to escape from the port. President Madison eventually denounced the filibustering of George Mathews, however, on the grounds that Mathews had violated his instructions.[10]


Spanish pressure forced the American evacuation from the island in 1813. Spanish forces erected Fort San Carlos on the island in 1816. However, A Scottish soldier and adventurer named Gregor MacGregor with 55 musketeers seized Fort San Carlos in 1817, claiming the island on behalf of "the brethren of Mexico, Buenos Ayres, New Grenada and Venezuela",[11] and raised the Green Cross of Florida flag over the Spanish Fort San Carlos.[12] MacGregor claimed to be Brigadier General of the armies of the United Provinces of New Grenada and Venezuela (where he had successfully fought and led troops), and General-in-Chief of the armies for the two Floridas, commissioned by the Supreme Director of Mexico.[11]

Spanish soldiers forced MacGregor's withdrawal, but their attempt to regain complete control was foiled by American irregulars organized by Ruggles Hubbard and former Pennsylvania congressman Jared Irwin. Hubbard and Irwin later joined forces with the French-born pirate Louis Aury, who laid claim to the island on behalf of the Republic of Mexico. U.S. Navy forces drove Aury from the island, and President James Monroe vowed to hold Amelia Island "in trust for Spain."

Modern Fernandina

In 1847 construction of Fort Clinch began in nearby present-day Fernandina. The Third System fort was named after General Duncan Lamont Clinch who fought in the War of 1812 and the Seminole Wars. Senator David Levy Yulee, founder of the Florida Railroad, wanted the eastern terminus of his railroad line to end in Amelia Island. The Old Town Fernandina was too cut off by the marshes to be used as a terminal. Yulee wanted to end the railroad on the banks of the Amelia River one mile to the south. The leaders of Fernandina did not want a new community to grow and prosper to surpass their town. The leaders of Fernandina decided to move the town up to the railroad where the present-day Fernandina Beach stands. Yulee began construction of the railroad in 1855 and was completed in 1861.[13]

Civil War

Inside Fort Clinch

On January 8, 1861, two days before Florida's secession, Confederate sympathizers (the Third Regiment of Florida Volunteers) took control of Fort Clinch, already abandoned by the Federal workers who had been enlarging the structure. The Confederates erected batteries on the northern end of Amelia Island but lacked the resources to fortify Fort Clinch. Robert E. Lee, who was commanding coastal defenses in the Deep South, ordered cannons and troops withdrawn in early 1862.

Lee's orders to withdraw the cannons and troops were too late. Union forces, consisting of 28 gunboats commanded by Commodore Samuel Dupont, occupied the island on March 3, 1862, and raised the American flag. In January 1863, the first all-black regiment of former slaves recruited to fight for the Union was read Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation at Fernandina.[citation needed] Three weeks later they set sail up the St. Marys River to engage the Confederate forces. The Union used the fort as a base for its operations in the area for the remainder of the war.[13]

Later 19th century

In 1891, Harmon Murray, who had been the leader of a criminal gang operating out of Gainesville, arrived in Fernandina, where his sister lived. Murray was soon committing burglaries and robberies in Fernandina and elsewhere on Amelia Island. Law officers chased a black suspect several times, who shot at them on one occasion. Murray taunted the police with a letter in early May, to the effect that he would not be taken alive, and would take the Nassau County sheriff and Fernandina police chief with him. Acting on a tip, on May 16 police surrounded the house Murray was staying in. Murray heard the officers getting into position, and shot and killed deputy sheriff Joseph W. Robinson. In the ensuing gun battle Murray wounded Fernandina Police Chief James Higgenbotham. Although grazed on the wrist and scalp, Murray was able to escape. Despite the intensive manhunt for him, Murray was able to slip off of Amelia Island to the mainland. The City of Fernandina offered a reward for the capture of Murray, "dead or alive".[14][15] [16]


Fernandina Beach is located at 30°24′04″N 81°16′27″W / 30.4010°N 81.2742°W / 30.4010; -81.2742,[17] approximately 25 miles (40 km) northeast of downtown Jacksonville.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2), all land. It is the northernmost city on the eastern coast of Florida.


Fernandina Beach has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with long, hot, and rainy summers and short, mild winters.

Climate data for Fernandina Beach, Florida, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1892–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
Mean maximum °F (°C) 77.6
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 63.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 54.9
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 45.4
Mean minimum °F (°C) 30.1
Record low °F (°C) 4
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.20
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 8.5 8.4 6.8 6.7 12.6 12.6 12.9 12.7 7.6 7.1 8.9 114.1
Source: NOAA[18][19]


In 2020, the total value of products produced in Fernandina Beach, Florida was $87.9 million.[20]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[21]
Fernandina Beach racial composition
(Hispanics excluded from racial categories)
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Pop 2010[22] Pop 2020[23] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 9,216 10,633 80.23% 81.47%
Black or African American (NH) 1,320 1,001 11.49% 7.67%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 38 17 0.33% 0.13%
Asian (NH) 131 114 1.14% 0.87%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian (NH) 9 21 0.08% 0.16%
Some other race (NH) 16 38 0.14% 0.29%
Two or more races/Multiracial (NH) 147 407 1.28% 3.12%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 610 821 5.31% 6.29%
Total 11,487 13,052 100.00% 100.00%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 13,052 people, 5,869 households, and 3,544 families residing in the city.[24]

Of the population in 2020, 4.0% were under 5 years old, 10.8% were under 18 years old, and 33.5% were 65 years or older. 49.8% of the population were female. There were a reported 1,576 veterans living in the city. 8.8% of the population were foreign born persons. 9.4% of those under the age of 65 years old lived with a disability and 15.1% of that same population did not have health insurance. There were 2.12 persons per household.[25]

In 2020, 81.0% of the housing units were owner-occupied. The median value of those owner-occupied housing units was $356,600. The median gross rent was $1,041. The median household income was $80,260 with a per capita income of $50,051. 10.2% of the population lived below the poverty threshold.[25]

In 2020, 97.9% of households had a computer and 96.5% had a broadband internet subscription. 95.5% of the population 25 years and older were high school graduates or higher and 45.5% of that same population had a bachelor's degree or higher.[25]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 11,487 people, 4,789 households, and 3017 families residing in the city.[26]


As of 2016, the largest self-reported ancestries/ethnicities in Fernandina Beach, Florida (excluding Hispanic/Latino groups) were:[27]

Largest ancestries (2016) Percent
English England 14.7%
American United States 14.5%
German Germany 12.6%
Irish Republic of Ireland 10.2%
Italian Italy 5.2%
French France 3.3%
Polish Poland 3.0%
Scottish Scotland 2.1%
Scots-Irish (Ulster/Northern Ireland) Ulster 2.1%
Dutch Netherlands 1.4%
Welsh Wales 1.3%
Norwegian Norway 1.2%
Russian Russia 0.6%
French Canadian Canada/Quebec 0.5%
Swedish Sweden 0.5%
Hungarian Hungary 0.5%

Government and infrastructure

Nassau County Fire Rescue operates Station 20 on the south end of Amelia Island,[28] as well as Station 70 Oneil.[29]

The Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport is a general aviation airfield approximately three miles south of the city that serves Amelia Island.


Fernandina Beach High School

The public schools of Fernandina Beach are part of the Nassau County School District. They include:

Private schools:

Note: Atlantic Elementary (2nd and 3rd grades) was closed at the end of the 2008 school year. After the closing, 2nd grade was moved to Southside and 3rd grade to Emma Love. Also, the private Catholic school, St. Michael's Academy, is in downtown Fernandina Beach. All three Fernandina Beach public schools are "A" rated by the State of Florida. The nickname of Fernandina Beach High School's athletic teams is the "Pirates".[30] Amelia Island Montessori School is near American Beach and is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools and is an associate member school with the American Montessori Society.


Nassau County Public Library operates the Fernandina Beach Branch which is located at 25 N. 4th Street. This is the main branch in the library system with a variety of services. The library also is a passport acceptance facility. This location underwent major renovations beginning in 2014 through early 2015, but is still currently located in the historic downtown area. [31]

Notable people


The 1988 fantasy film The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking was filmed in Fernandina Beach and at soundstages in Jacksonville.[35] The house that stood in for Villa Villekulla, Pippi's home, is known locally as Captain Bell's House and is on Estrada Street in the Old Town area directly across from the Fernandina Plaza (parade ground for the Spanish fort) and overlooking the Amelia River.[36]

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival occurs annually over the first weekend in May. Events and activities of the festival include vendors with seafood, arts, crafts, collectibles and antiques, live music, the Miss Shrimp Festival pageant, a fireworks display and a parade.[37]

Historic places


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Letter from Spanish Governor of Florida, Enrique White, to Commandant of Amelia Island, Justo Lopez, the army post and town will be called Fernandina and the rest of the island will still be called Amelia, as of Jan. 1, 1811. - Letter". ameliaisland.pastperfectonline.com. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Roger Moore; Ron Kurtz (2001). Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. Photographs Naturally. p. 1871. ISBN 978-0-9710343-0-3.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park" (PDF). State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Recreation and Parks. March 10, 2004. p. 11. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  8. ^ Louise Biles Hill (1941). "George J. F. Clarke, 1774-1836". Florida Historical Quarterly. Vol. 21 (3 ed.). Florida Historical Society. p. 214. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  9. ^ Cusick, James G. (2007). The other war of 1812 : the Patriot War and the American invasion of Spanish East Florida. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0820329215.
  10. ^ "Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America, by Robert e. May. Chapter 1". Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2008. Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. Robert E. May. Chapter 1
  11. ^ a b "Another View of Gregor MacGregor" Archived March 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine in Amelia Now On Line, Winter 2001.
  12. ^ Gene M. Burnett (October 1, 2014). Florida's Past, Vol 2: People and Events That Shaped the State. Pineapple Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-56164-759-0.
  13. ^ a b "Seaport built for a Railroad". exploresouthernhistory.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  14. ^ Braley, R. Olin (2004). The Killing of Harmon Murray. Gainesville, Florida: The Alachua Press. pp. 69–71.
  15. ^ Chandler, Billy Jaynes (October 1994). "Harmon Murray: Black Desperado in Late Nineteenth-Century Florida". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 73 (2): 190. JSTOR 30148759.
  16. ^ "Memorials/Fallen Deputies - Deputy Joseph W. Robinson". Nassau County Sheriff's Office. Archived from the original on January 2, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  18. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  19. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991-2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  20. ^ Economy of Fernandina Beach
  21. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Fernandina Beach city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  23. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Fernandina Beach city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  24. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2020: Fernandina Beach city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  25. ^ a b c "QuickFacts Fernandina Beach city, Florida". census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  26. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2010: Fernandina Beach city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  27. ^ "American FactFinder - Results". Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  28. ^ "Station 20." Nassau County. Retrieved on February 14, 2017. "Station 20 South end of Amelia Island 5518 First Coast Highway Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034"
  29. ^ "Station 70." Nassau County. Retrieved on February 14, 2017. "Station 70 Oneil 96031 Pine Grove Road Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034"
  30. ^ "Fernandina Beach High School / Homepage". www.nassau.k12.fl.us. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  31. ^ "Fernandina Beach Branch Library." Nassau County Public Library. Retrieved on February 10, 2017. "Location Fernandina Library Branch 25 N. 4th St. Fernandina Beach, FL 32034"
  32. ^ Berger, Joseph. "Raymond A. Brown, Civil Rights Lawyer, Dies at 94", The New York Times, October 11, 2009. Accessed October 12, 2009.
  33. ^ Schafer, Daniel L. (2018). Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. Revised and expanded edition. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. p. 64. ISBN 978-0813056531.
  34. ^ Feldman, Ari (August 20, 2017). "Why Are There No Statues Of Jewish Confederate Judah Benjamin To Tear Down?". Forward. Retrieved September 6, 2017. There is only one known statue of a Jewish Confederate leader. It depicts David Levy Yulee, an industrialist, plantation owner and Confederate senator from Florida, and it shows him sitting on a bench.
  35. ^ James P. Goss (2000). Pop Culture Florida. Pineapple Press Inc. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-56164-199-4.
  36. ^ "Along the River, Old Town & Fernandina Plaza | Amelia Island eMagazine". Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  37. ^ "Shrimp festival kicks off in Fernandina Beach". News4Jax. May 3, 2012. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2013.