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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Saint Augustine in St. Johns County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Vilano Beach Casino

(1926-1939)

 
 
Vilano Beach Casino Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, December 21, 2011
1. Vilano Beach Casino Marker
Inscription.
Formerly at this site stood the Vilano Beach Casino, constructed in 1926-27. Casinos of the early 1900s were a source of social entertainment. Gambling was not provided. Big name bands from New York, vaudeville acts, theme parties and dances were hosted here. This unique oceanfront casino had monumental architecture on property 300 feet wide and 250 feet deep, a salt water swimming pool 150 feet long by 50 feet wide, and fine dining. A palm log bridge over the North River provided access to the island by car. The casino was the cornerstone of a major development platted as Vilano Beach by the St. Augustine & Atlantic Corporation headed by New York Philanthropist August Heckscher. Automobile and rail travel brought potential buyers during the 1920s Florida Land Boom, however, the plan failed during the Great Depression, and storms of 1938-1939 washed the casino into the sea. Today Mr. Heckscher’s dream is being revitalized. A public recreation area was built in 2004 on the casino site, and the 1920s era layout is the basis for a sustainable town center master plan by the Vilano Beach Main Street Waterfronts Group, a partnership between North Shores Improvement Association (est. 1939) and St. Johns County.
A Florida Heritage Landmark
Sponsored by the St. Johns County
Board of County Commissioners
and
Vilano Beach Casino Marker (<i>tall view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, December 21, 2011
2. Vilano Beach Casino Marker (tall view)
the Florida Department of State
F-555 2005

 
Erected 2005 by St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners and the Florida Department of State. (Marker Number F-555.)
 
Location. 29° 54.98′ N, 81° 17.437′ W. Marker is in Saint Augustine, Florida, in St. Johns County. Marker is at the intersection of Vilano Road and Ferrol Road, on the left when traveling south on Vilano Road. Touch for map. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, overlooking the beach park and former site of the Vilano Beach Casino. Marker is in this post office area: Saint Augustine FL 32084, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Haley's Court Sign (approx. ¼ mile away); Surfside Dance Hall and Bathhouse (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Francis and Mary Usina Bridge (approx. 1.2 miles away); Nelmar Terrace Historic District (approx. 1.6 miles away); The Great Cross (approx. 1.6 miles away); Saint Augustine (approx. 1.6 miles away); Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (approx. 1.7 miles away); First Spanish Muster Site in Florida (approx. 1.7 miles away).
 
Also see . . .
1. Vilano Beach ~ its time has come!. The 1920s were boom times in Saint
Vilano Beach Casino Marker (<i>wide view; looking southeast from Vilano Road</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, December 21, 2011
3. Vilano Beach Casino Marker (wide view; looking southeast from Vilano Road)
Augustine and on North Beach. Highway A1A came into being and so did the Vilano Beach Casino. This was built by August Heckscher from Germany, a wealthy man in mining and real estate, and then a philanthropist in New York before he settled in Jacksonville. The name Vilano seems to have arisen in the 1920s meaning “thistle burr” (in Spanish). In 1926 August Heckscher built the “Vilano Beach Casino.” It was a wonderful addition to Vilano Beach, until the Great Depression brought it down. On August 28, 1937, 50 mile per hour winds with high tides began the destruction of the Grande Casino. Although Hecksher tried to save it, storms of 1938 and 1939 began to wash it away. Before Heckscher ordered it destroyed, he donated the ornate columns to Florida Memorial College. It has been said that locals have pieces of it in their yards. (Submitted on October 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Vilano Beach History. (This link presents images of the Vilano Beach Casino.) Vilano Beach is located two miles from St. Augustine in Northeast Florida's St. Johns County. The area lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Tolomato River. When Henry Flagler attracted northern tourists to his hotels in St. Augustine, the seaside community of Vilano Beach was their oceanfront playground. Ferries and horse drawn trolleys brought visitors to the beaches.
Vilano Beach Pavilion (<i>located across Vilano Road from marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, January 9, 2013
4. Vilano Beach Pavilion (located across Vilano Road from marker)
In 1926, Florida developer August Heckscher built the Grand Vilano Casino, a Mediterranean Revival-style building on Vilano Beach. Big name bands from New York, vaudeville acts, theme parties and dances were hosted here. (Submitted on October 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. EntertainmentParks & Recreational Areas
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 22 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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