Clarke House Park is home to the Clarke House, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The house was originally built in the early 1900’s by William Clarke and serves as a meeting place for the Orange Park Historical Society. Park facilities include a large playground, sand volleyball court, nature trails, gardens, lake, pavilions, grills, restrooms, and numerous beautiful oak trees.
The park is a favorite spot for birthday parties and family events and the pavilions are available to rent. There are three pavilions, all the same size, available for rental:
- Pecan Grove (P1) is the closest to the playground.
- Beach Bay (P2) is next to the volleyball courts.
- Bamboo Lake (P3) is behind the Clarke House and closest to the restrooms.
You can now make your pavilion reservations entirely online! Please see the calendar below to get started. Pavilions are rented in 4-hour blocks: 9am – 1pm and 1pm – 5pm. They can also be rented from 5pm to sunset from April to September. Due to the popularity of the park, we cannot hold or pencil in reservations without the application and payment. Rates:
- $26.75 (inc. tax) – Resident*
- $53.50 (inc. tax) – Non-Resident
- $10.70 (inc. tax) to add electrical service
*For residency clarification please click on the link and look for your street address: Residency List If your street address is not listed, then you are considered a non-resident.
*The park will be closed to reservations April 22-23, 2017 for Carrie Clarke Day. Information on this event can be found here: Carrie Clarke Day.
Still have questions? Please call at (904) 264-2635. For information about renting one of our other parks, please click here.
We also have a pavilion and playground at the TC Miller Center that is available for rental. Click here to visit the TC Miller page.
Clarke House History
Toward the close of the American Civil War, William Clarke immigrated to America from Bury-St. Edmonds, England. William enlisted in the Union Army, a quick way of earning money. Following a short enlistment, and with the end of the war, William moved to Jacksonville and established a plumbing and mechanical business. Interestingly, Mr. Clarke as built wooden caskets for many people that died during several yellow fever epidemics in Jacksonville.
William Clarke was married to Carrie Kellogg and had one son. William Clarke’s namesake son, Bill, grew up in this setting and with these surroundings. Young Bill attended school in both Orange Park and Jacksonville. He traveled back and forth on board the old “Mary Garner,” a small riverboat well known in local history. Bill also took up boxing at the Jacksonville YMCA. Bill’s father was shocked to read one morning that Bill had won a boxing match at the Beach and had even won $5.00!
Mr. Clarke was concerned about his son and decided to purchase a place where he could hunt, fish, ride horses, and engage in other wholesome activities. As a result, he purchased a tract of land here in Orange Park. As time passed, Mr. Clarke gathered livestock on the property, including a cow that was used to provide fresh milk. It is said there were also dogs and cats, chickens and ducks, and unusual animals such as goats, parrots, and even baby skunks.
The Clarke’s tried their hand at raising several different crops, including oranges, grapefruits, plumbs, grapes, and even persimmons. However, eventually they found that pecan trees were about the only “cash crop” that would survive periodic hard freezes. “Clarke pecans” proved to be very tasty and were sold both far and near.
Several years passed and William Clarke decided to build a nice home on the property. The house was built with high interior ceilings with two bedrooms upstairs, each with its own bathroom. Mrs. Clarke took an active interest in local affairs and was instrumental in the organization of the First Baptist Church, Woman’s Club, the Baptist Children’s Home, and other benevolent endeavors in Orange Park. Consequently, Mr. Clarke became active in local politics and served on the Town Council and as Mayor in the late 1920’s.
Their son, Bill, continued his education and attended Stetson University where he met Georgia Self, whom later he would marry. Young Bill became a Doctor of Chiropractic and practiced a short time. Following the death of his father, he took over his father’s long established business and ran it until shortly before his death. After 94 years of successful operation, their plumbing and mechanical business came to an end. Mrs. Georgia S. Clarke continued to live o the property with one of her sons, Walter, until the Town purchased the remaining 15 acres in 1991. Both Bill and Georgia Clarke are buried across the street from Clarke House Park in the Town owned Magnolia Cemetery.
Clarke House Park is located at 1039 Kingsley Avenue, Orange Park, Florida