Frank B. Butler

Frank B. Butler 1

Frank B. Butler

Heading south on A1A from St. Augustine towards Crescent Beach, you will see a sign for Butler Beach.

         Butler Beach is named after Frank B. Butler who was an African American entrepreneur in St. Augustine starting in the early 1900s. Butler was born in DuPont, Georgia in 1885. He moved to Fernandina Beach in 1902, working for Mr. Salvador. Later Mr. Salvador moved to St. Augustine and opened a fish market. Frank Butler followed and worked in the fish market as well as a butcher in Snyder’s Market.

          In 1914, Frank Butler opened up his own market in a building at 87½ Washington Street in Lincolnville. The market was a success and in 1924 Butler moved his business, the Palace Market, to 54 Washington St. Beginning in 1915, he had begun purchasing lots in Lincolnville to use as business investments and in 1924 opened a real estate office in a rented building at 54½ Washington Street. In 1925 he and others formed the College Park Realty Company which created the College Park Subdivision at the southwest corner of King Street and Holmes Boulevard.

          Starting in 1927, Frank Butler began purchasing land on Anastasia Island southeast of St. Augustine. After World War II, he developed this property into a resort area for African Americans so they could enjoy the beach, and the Intracoastal Waterway. This was the only African American resort between Daytona Beach and American Beach in Fernandina. On the Matanzas River shore boating, fishing, picnics and cookouts were enjoyed. There was a large pavilion and a concession stand; Butler’s Beach Inn provided accommodations. Other businesses developed and individuals bought lots for homes. Some years later the Beach Inn was sold and the property developed into condominiums.

          Mr. Butler sold part of the property to the State for development of a state park for blacks. After Mr. Butler died in 1973 the park declined without his continual lobbying for support. In 1980 the State turned the park over to St. Johns County with the stipulation it be named Frank B. Butler County Park. It still exists as a monument to Frank Butler’s entrepreneurship and community work. For additional information you can read Frank B. Butler: Lincolnville Businessman and Founder of St. Augustine, Florida’s Historic Black Beach, by Barbara Walch that was used as the source of this post.