Nestled on the banks of Northeast Florida's St. Johns River, Epping Forest has been a Jacksonville landmark for close to a century. The 58 acre estate, built by Alfred I. duPont and his wife, Jessie Ball duPont, in the 1920's, boasts a rich history as a meeting place for industrial giants, heads of state and powerful politicians, the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and the Goulds.
Alfred I. duPont, originally of Delaware and known for the famed duPont chemical dynasty, was then beginning a brilliant second career in Florida. Here he pioneered the development of sound banking, transportation, and the paper industry. It was during that time that he and his wife, Jessie Ball duPont, decided to establish a permanent residence in Jacksonville. Alfred chose this particular tract of land on the St. Johns River due to the fact that it was the widest point on the river, which provided an excellent area for his favorite pastime: yachting on his beloved Nenemoosha.
Construction on the Epping Forest Mansion began in 1926 by a local architect, Harold Saxelbye. The Mansion contained 25 rooms in its original grandeur. It is a unique mixture of Gothic, Spanish Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. The Mansion is adorned with brick courtyards, beautifully carved pilasters for the balconies and original marble and tile floors. In addition, many fanciful stone creatures and icons festoon the garden walls and magnificent central stone fountain, evoking the European heraldry of centuries past. Among these symbols are acorns, owls, pelicans, frogs and lions, after which the current Epping Forest Yacht Club logo is fashioned.
After the duPonts both passed away, eventually, local businessman, Raymond Mason, bought the estate in 1970. He lived there with his family until 1984, entertaining world leaders such as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and President Gerald Ford.
In 1984, Gate Petroleum acquired Epping Forest from the Mason family. The company felt strongly that Epping Forest should be preserved for the future enjoyment of Jacksonville citizens. Today, the magnificent Mansion has been completely restored to preserve its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, making it a comfortable home for Epping Forest Yacht Club. Epping Forest Yacht Club combines turn-of-the-century romance and world-class amenities in a setting of historical significance.
Today, Epping Forest Yacht Club is a showplace offering a blend of the elegance of yesterday with the active lifestyle of today. Epping Forest Yacht Club is one of the South’s grandest estates blessed by natural beauty, providing a tradition of excellence and a lifetime of memories.