The tram station makes its own journey



When Ron Janson learned that a ticket office for an old tram station was to be demolished, he objected, citing the building’s historic value.

Officials wanted to demolish the building to make way for a new county jail, and Janson, a former captain in the Sheriff’s Department, was part of the discussion.

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“I told them the thing was historic and you shouldn’t tear it down,” Janson said. “They said ‘If you want it, come and get it.’ So I did. “

On August 3, 1984, Janson, who was also a real estate broker, took possession of the building and moved it off county property to land on US 1 south of the county airport. The move at the time cost over $ 40,000.

“It was a whim of the moment,” Janson said. “It would have been a hell of a thing to destroy this building. What a pity it would have been to see something historic being destroyed.”

A photograph from the St. Augustine Historical Society's collection shows the St. Johns Electric Railway Station, right, as the Lions Bridge was under construction in 1927. The station building is now located south of town on the US 1.

The structure still has the original railway safe and a cheeky fireplace.

Janson used the building as an office for his real estate business before selling it to another company. The land and building were subsequently purchased by the St. Augustine – St. Johns County Airport Authority and are now vacant.

St. Augustine Street Railway

Transportation has always been a problem for the citizens of St. Augustine, even as early as the 1800s. And in the late 1880s, the city decided to do something about it.

On June 25, 1888, the St. Augustine City Commission passed an ordinance to form the St. Augustine Street Railroad, which would run wagons on the city tracks. St. Augustine would become one of nine cities in the state to have a streetcar system.

A postcard from the collection of the St. Augustine Historical Society shows a St. Johns Electric Railway streetcar entering St. Augustine station in the early 1900s. The station building is now located south of town on the US 1.

In 1906, the company began making lanes on King Street, San Marco Avenue, now Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue, across a wooden bridge to Anastasia Island, then to ‘to the beach.

The first wagon of what was then called the St. Johns Electric Railway rolled into the streets on May 17, 1907. By 1920, the railway had 10 electric cars in service.

In 1925, more than 350,000 passengers used the service.

The railway ticket office and lumber and stucco station were located on the town’s waterfront, near where the Saint-Augustin municipal marina now stands.

The former St. Johns Electric Railroad Station and Ticket Office, which was once located on St. Augustine Bay, is now located off US 1, south of St. Augustine.  The building was moved to county land on Lewis Speedway in 1927 and then to its current location in 1984.

When the Lion’s Bridge was completed in 1927, the building was dismantled and moved to county-owned property, south of the city, next to the County Jail Farm.

The wagons didn’t run much longer after the bridge was opened – the last trip was July 16, 1930.

At the time, The Record reported that the building was moved to the property on Lewis Speedway at a cost of $ 3,000. The facility would be used as office and living quarters for County Director C. Samuel Johnson and was “a benefit to the county as a whole as it allows Mr Johnson to maintain supervision at all times.”

An article in the St. Augustine Record in the collection of the St. Augustine Historical Society shows that the old St. Johns electric railway station was moved from county property in 1984.

Over the years, the building has had many uses including a home for the county jail farm manager, the county civil defense office, and finally, offices for the detectives of the Sheriff’s Office. St. Johns County, which had built its headquarters next door. .

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A possible future for the railway building

Mark Frazier, resident of Saint-Augustin, would like to see the building move again.

Frazier, president of the Florida Adventures in Railroading nonprofit, wants the building to be donated to the organization and moved from its current location for use as a railroad museum.

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The group, which is made up of railroad enthusiasts from the area, say they have met officials from the authority and toured the building, but understand the difficulty of the project.

“If it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be doing it,” Frazier said. “It quickly became my full-time job. I retired as a carriage driver after COVID, and now I do.”

A postcard from the collection of the St. Augustine Historical Society shows a St. Johns Electric Railway streetcar traveling on King Street in St. Augustine in the early 1900s.

The group is raising funds and hoping for support from the community.

“It’s a special part of the city’s history,” Frazier said. “It’s sad and forgotten. I see it as a diamond in the rough. This town was made what it is by Henry Flagler’s railroad. Can you think of a better place to have a railroad museum? iron ?”


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