Twenty years before San Jose Country Club was founded, the San Jose area was being developed as a residential neighborhood. The original portion of the present clubhouse was designed by Harold F. Saxelbye, prominent Jacksonville architect, and built in 1927 by O. P. Woodcock Company for the guests of the old San Jose Hotel, which was situated on a high bluff overlooking the St. Johns River, less than a half mile to the west of the club. The original 18-hole golf course was designed by noted golf course architect Donald Ross, and was completed about the same time. Later the hotel failed, but the golf course and clubhouse continued as a semi-private operation for many years prior to 1946. The old hotel is now part of Bolles School.In 1946, Stockton, Whatley and Davin Company acquired the club property from the duPont Estate. There was a keen awareness of the need for a modern country club to serve the families of the expanding area of South Jacksonville. Financing for the new club was obtained through the formation of the San Jose Investment Company, which issued 300 20-year, 3% bonds. These were promptly bought at $750 each. With the proceeds, the Investment Company acquired the club property from SWD and leased it to the country club organization for 20 years, with purchase options included in the lease agreement.
At the time of its organization in 1947, the Club's property consisted of the clubhouse, which at that time had a ballroom, small locker room, pro shop and a home type kitchen; approximately 135 acres of land and the golf course, badly in need of attention and improvements to bring it up to the standard desired by the members. The lease agreement called for the immediate expenditure of $150,000 for renovations and extensive additions to the clubhouse, such as the construction of the men’s locker room and lounge, relocating and equipping the kitchen and general repairs to the existing building; the construction of swimming and wading pools, a bathhouse and a large scale reconditioning program of the golf course. Before mid-1949, these requirements had been met and the Club was ready to serve its Members. The Club’s charter was approved on April 16, 1947, with 224 names on the roster.
The Club’s membership growth was consistent from the beginning. By 1949 the membership had grown to 470 and by October 1962, the total had reached 785. At the end of 1978, the membership totaled 986. Of the original 224 members from October 1947, 57 were still members in 1979! In the course of the Club’s steady progress, one of the more important steps was taken in 1951 when the Board of Governors, supported by the membership, exercised the purchase option contained in the lease and bought the Club for $250,000, assumeing the bond obligations of the Investment Company scheduled to be retired in 1967. The bonds were retired in 1964.
Major clubhouse improvement projects were completed in 1956, 1960 and 1965, and between those years many other smaller improvements were added both in and outside the clubhouse. The 1956 changes and additions included the construction of the beautiful and functional Terrace Room, a ladies’ lounge and locker room, replacing the one located on the second floor of the building; a much larger and relocated pro shop and addition of air-conditioning to many areas of the building.
Other changes during the late 50s included the remodeling, enlargement and modernization of the kitchen facilities, clearing and grading the golf practice range, installation of new pumping and filtering equipment at the pool, and in 1958 the construction of two tennis courts. Tennis immediately drew a large following which necessitated the construction of two additional courts within a short time.
In 1960, the Club embarked on more renovations that produced the magnificent new ballroom and the remodeled, redecorated and refurnished dining room, Gourmet Room and lounge area. On the outside, the project included doubling the size of the paved parking space, additional outdoor lighting and general beautification of the clubhouse grounds. Another major clubhouse improvement project was begun in 1965 which increased the area of the building by approximately 40%. The program involved remodeling of the existing structure, plus additions that now contain the new ladies’ locker room and lounge, pro shop, men’s lounge, card room and a section of the new kitchen. In connection with this program, the San Jose Investment Company bonds were called, thereby liquidating this obligation three years ahead of schedule.
With the emergence of tennis as a major recreational sport in the mid 1970s, the tennis program was expanded. Three additional courts were built in 1973, followed in 1975 by a beautiful tennis pro shop and related facilities, and by two additional courts in 1978, which increased the total number of courts to nine.
A complete redecorating program was completed in the fall of 1975. Late that year, our newly refurbished Club was selected as the site for the dinner honoring President Gerald Ford and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. San Jose Country Club received much public recognition and media coverage as a result of this event.
Included in the party, which made San Jose the “center of the world for a day”, were Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Governor Rubin Askew, Mayor Hans Tanzler, and all of the wives of the major guests. Their hosts were San Jose Members Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Mason and, of course, accompanying all these guests were a multitude of Secret Service agents. This event is archived in San Jose history by the photo montage mounted in the main hallway of the Clubhouse.
In keeping with our Club’s policy of a continuous updating of facilities, new cart paths on the golf course were built in 1977. This was followed by improvements to the swimming pool area in 1978. During that year the swimming pool was resurfaced with Hydrocote and the bathhouse was completely remodeled.
During the 1988-90 era, San Jose Country Club was extensively changed. Members invested $3.5 million for improvements which included a rebuilt golf course for $1.8 million and a brand new fitness center for $800,000. The swimming pool area was completely replaced with a state-of-the-art facility including a snack bar kitchen. The tennis area was beautifully enhanced. The clubhouse was refurbished with new carpeting and painting and new furniture and equipment.
From its formation, the Club had many members interested in yachting and related water sports and pastimes. The San Jose Yacht Club was formed and incorporated in 1966, patterned along the lines of the famous New York Athletic Club’s Yacht Club. With “membership restricted to Members of San Jose Country Club”, an additional social and geographic dimension to sports activities and membership in San Jose Country Club became a reality.
Among the achievements of the enthusiastic Yacht Club members who flew San Jose’s “red-and-green” burgee has been the institution of the popular annual Oyster Roast, the adoption of the Club’s official blue blazer and the gift of the present flag pole and official Country Club flag. The Yacht Club retired in 2015 and its members now meet in a "Fabulous Friday" program that features various speakers with networking and dinner.
From the beginning, the Club’s founders intended San Jose to be a family social club with a good measure of sports activities included. Most of the seasonal programs have been planned with these aims in mind. The tremendous interest shown by all age groups in the many social attractions and sports activities at the club proves the farsightedness and wisdom of the leaders in planning it.