Major William Webb purchased 31.2 acres on the St. Johns River in Mandarin in 1873. He built a home, barn and 1,000-foot dock extending into the St. Johns River. Major Webb cultivated oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and beans. The farm produce was shipped north on steamships that regularly stopped in Mandarin. Major Webb played an active role in the community, which by 1881 had a population of 1,200 people, 300 white residents and 900 black residents.
Walter Jones, proprietor of the Mandarin Store and Post Office, moved his family to the homestead in the early 1900s and his family members occupied the property until 1992.
The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society operates the park facilities under a contract with the city.
The City of Jacksonville acquired 10 acres of Major Webb’s original homestead from the descendents of Walter Jones in 1994 for the purpose of creating the city’s first historical park. The property was developed and restored with support from the Florida Communities Trust and city and state grants. The site was dedicated as a City of Jacksonville Landmark and Landmark Site. The park opened to the public in August 2000. The park includes the farmhouse, barn, outbuildings, sawmill, nature trail along a riverfront boardwalk, picnic area and restrooms. The park and farmhouse are handicapped accessible.
Following restoration, the farmhouse opened for public tours in August 2002. The society has furnished the house to reflect family life during the late 1890s and early 1900s.
Guided tours of the farm house are available by advance reservation.
In 2015, a one-room schoolhouse that was used by the Sisters of St. Joseph to educate black children in Mandarin, was purchased by the Mandarin Community Club in honor of their 90th anniversary, gifted to the City of Jacksonville, and relocated to Walter Jones Park. The building underwent preservation work and exhibit development over a fifteen month period and will be open to the public when the Mandarin Museum is open, starting April 30, 2016. The schoolhouse, St. Joseph’s Schoolhouse for African-American Children, was built in 1898.