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Green Cove Springs, Florida
—  City  —
Location in Clay County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 29°59′34″N 81°41′2″W / 29.99278°N 81.68389°W / 29.99278; -81.68389
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Clay
 - Total 9.4 sq mi (24.5 km2)
 - Land 6.8 sq mi (17.7 km2)
 - Water 2.6 sq mi (6.8 km2)
Elevation 16 ft (5 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 5,378
 - Density 572.1/sq mi (219.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 32043
Area code(s) 904
FIPS code 12-27400[1]
GNIS feature ID 0283381[2]

Green Cove Springs is a city in Clay County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,378 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 5,990 [1]. It is the county seat of Clay County[3].

The city is named after the portion of the St. Johns River upon which the city is built. The river bends here, and the area is sheltered by trees that are perennially green.



First inhabited over 7,000 years ago by natives drawn by the warm mineral spring. The spring attracted tourists in the 19th Century and there were hotels near the spring; today the sulphur-scented spring water feeds an adjacent public swimming pool before flowing the short distance to the St. Johns River. The Green Cove Springs area was first developed by George E. Clarke in 1816 when he was provided land, under a Spanish land grant to build a sawmill. Green Cove Springs was established in 1854 as White Sulfur Springs. Renamed in 1866, it became the county seat in 1871.

Tourism was the primary economic base until the end of the century, when Henry Flagler's railroad began taking tourist further south into Florida. In 1895, the Great Freeze destroyed the areas citrus crops, and tourism all but ended. The 1920s saw renewed development with automobile traffic bringing in tourists again. The Great Depression of the 1930s saw the end of growth again for the city.

The period immediately before and during World War II again brought new growth to Green Cove Spring. In September 1940, the U.S. Navy opened Naval Air Station Lee Field in honor of Ensign Bejamin Lee who had lost his life in a crash at Killinghome, England during World War I. In August 1943, the facility was renamed Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs (Lee Field) and consisted of four 5000 ft asphalt runways.[4][5] After the war, NAS Green Cove Springs was downgraded in status to a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) as part of the greater NAS Jacksonville complex. A total of 13 piers were also constructed along the west bank of the St. Johns River adjacent to NAAS Green Cove Springs (Lee Field) to house a U.S. Navy "Mothball Fleet" of some 600 vessels, primarily destroyers, destroyer escorts and fleet auxiliaries. In 1960, the Navy decommissioned NAAS Green Cove Springs and the pier facility. Some of the mothballed vessels were transferred to foreign navies while others were relocated to other Reserve Fleet locations.

In 1984, the city annexed the former naval base into the city to utilize it for further growth and development as the Clay County Port and Reynolds Industrial Park. The air station is now a private airfield known as Reynolds Airpark (FAA airfield identifier: FL60) with a single 5000 ft asphalt runway currently operational, although reportedly in poor condition.[6][7] Although the original air station air traffic control tower is still standing, attached to one of the former Navy aircraft hangars, the airfield remains an uncontrolled facility.

Green Cove Springs is the birthplace of Charles E. Merrill (1885-1956), one of the founders of Merrill, Lynch & Company. The town's spring is described by his son James Merrill in the poem "Two From Florida," published in The Inner Room (1988).

Green Cove Springs is also the birthplace of Augusta Savage née Augusta Christine Fells (February 29, 1892 - March 26, 1962) Savage was an African American sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

Locally, the community is known as the home of Gustafson's Farm, a brand name of milk and dairy products sold throughout Florida. The main Gustafson Dairy Farm is located in Green Cove Springs, Florida, and is one of the largest privately-owned dairy farms in the Southeast United States. Started in 1908, the main farm occupies nearly 10,000 acres (40 km²) within the city limits. Gustafson's several many bottling plants across the state, stretching from Tallahassee in the west to Tampa and Cocoa in the south. All Gustafson products have the picture of the husband-and-wife founders, Frank and Agnes Gustafson, (also known as Mama and Papa Gus), who along with their first cow on their farm (named "Buttercup") are prominently featured on the packaging of the dairy's products.

Post Office

A U.S. post office was established at Hibernia on June 19, 1849, but its name was changed on October 17, 1853 to Magnolia Mills, and on July 30, 1866, it was changed to Green Cove Springs. The Hibernia post office was reestablished on February 16, 1855, and remained open until May 15, 1931, when it was closed and the area assigned to Green Cove Springs.[8]


Green Cove Springs is located at 29°59′34″N 81°41′2″W / 29.99278°N 81.68389°W / 29.99278; -81.68389 (29.992716, -81.683786)[9].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24.5 km²), of which, 6.8 square miles (17.7 km²) of it is land and 2.6 square miles (6.8 km²) of it (27.83%) is water.

Green Cove Springs is the county seat of Government for Clay County, Florida. The Greater Green Cove Springs area consists of the unincorporated communities of Pier Station and Lake Asbury.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 5,378 people, 1,987 households, and 1,402 families residing in the city. The population density was 789.0 people per square mile (304.5/km²). There were 2,199 housing units at an average density of 322.6/sq mi (124.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.55% White, 24.40% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.34% from other races, and 1.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.08% of the population.

There were 1,987 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,487, and the median income for a family was $40,443. Males had a median income of $28,097 versus $22,040 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,673. About 14.6% of families and 19.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.2% of those under age 18 and 13.7% of those age 65 or over.

The city has had its own police force since the 1940s. The Green Cove Springs Police Department currently consists of 19 sworn full time officers, 6 part time officers, 7 dispatchers, a secretary and 2 crossing guards. The police department has officers assigned to joint task forces, full time, such as the DEA and the Clay County Drug Task force. Areas outside the city limits are patrolled by the Clay County Sheriff's Office.


Gustafson Dairy Farm

Vac-Conis the country leading producer of heavy-duty sewer cleaning equipment.

The city has a large industrial center on what used to be Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs (Lee Field), off of Florida State Road 16E.


Clay County Historical and Railroad Museum, Green Cove Springs.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  4. ^ United States Naval Aviation 1910 - 1980, NAVAIR 00-80P-1, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, c1981, p.465
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bradbury, Alford G., and Hallock, E. Story, A Chronology of Florida Post Offices, reprinted 1993, Port Salerno:Florida Classics Library. ISBN 0-9630788-1-X
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  

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