661 Mickler Road, circa 1881.
Jacksonville's expansion during the latter
decades of the nineteenth century was in large part due to its evolution
as a rail center. By the mid- 1880s the city had become one of Florida's
main rail hubs, with lines reaching out in all directions, west to Lake
City and Cedar Key, north to Fernandina and Savannah, and south to St.
Augustine. In May 1888 the Jacksonville, Mayport and Pablo Railroad and
Navigation Company (JM&P) began rail service from the Arlington Road
landing to Mayport. The line ran from the river in a diagonal line to Egleston
Heights, its first stop. It then turned eastward in a wide curve, plunging
through the pine woods on its way to Verona, Cohasset, and Gilmore before
reaching the ocean at Burnside, north of Pablo, or what is now Jacksonville
In 1889 a depot for the line was constructed at Egleston, east of what is now Floral Bluff, on property donated by a local landowner, O.H.P. Champlin. Eglestgn was laid out in the early 1880s by Champlin, who gave it his wife's maiden name. The plat, filed in June, 1888, reveals an eighteen-block subdivision of varying-sized and shaped blocks located essentially east of Lake Lucina. Among the original property owners shown on the plat itself were Champlin, Albert C. Frieseke, Mrs. Sarah Warren, and Thomas M. Taylor. Champlin promoted the community in New Jersey, attempting to persuade his former neighbors to create a second Ocean Grove in Arlington. One who responded was the widow of a Methodist minister, who in honor of her late husband financed construction at Egleston Heights of a church, completed in 1889. Named the John E. Inskip Memorial Methodist Church, the facility endured until 1920, when the congregation moved to its present location one-half mile south on University Boulevard.
The church was one of four buildings standing within Egleston Heights in early 1889. Champlin built a house on Lake Lucina next to one constructed by his son-in-law, Albert Frieseke. A Captain Warren and his wife owned the other house in the community. Construction of the depot soon led to further development. A post office, school, several stores, and a hotel followed. By late 1890 a score of buildings lined the small community's few streets. A dozen more were under construction. Champlin successfully organized a Chatauqua Assembly in Egleston Heights that attracted many visitors to the community. Meetings were held at the church and the hotel, which in the 1891-92 winter season reportedly filled with guests.