St. Marys has been described at different times over the centuries as a bustling seaport, a sleepy tourist resting place, or a strategic military location. Shrimp Boats close to the Georgia-Florida state line (on Route 40, off Interstate 95), it is located on the St. Marys River, within six miles of the Atlantic Ocean. It served as Camden County’s seat from 1869 until 1923. Today many of its residents earn their livelihood by catering to the tourists who visit the St. Marys National Historic District, which includes beautiful nineteenth-century buildings, offices, and shops and the Oak Grove Cemetery. According to the 2000 U.S. census, the population is 13,761
Established on the site of an abandoned Timucuan Indian village, Tlathlothlaguphta, St. Marys sits on land confiscated from two brothers of royal governor James Wright. Their Royalist sympathies resulted in their banishment after the American Revolution (1775-83) and the loss of their huge estates. First Presbyterian ChurchThe history of the town’s name is not clear. Accounts differ regarding the origin of the name itself—some say it is named after the St. Marys River, while others say it comes from a seventeenth-century Spanish mission, Santa Maria, on nearby Amelia Island, Florida. After the departure of its royalist owners, the land belonged to Jacob Weed, an early planter and state legislator. Weed sold 1,672 acres along the St. Marys River to nineteen other men, and the twenty laid out the new town together in 1788. Early maps show the streets were 100 feet wide, interspersed with two 16-acre public squares.
St. Marys was established by an act of the state legislature on December 5, 1792. Wartime Involvement The strategic location of St. Marys on the Atlantic Coast just above Florida led to its involvement in several of the major military conflicts in U.S. history. Troops were sent from New York to the area during the American Revolution. It was captured by the British during the War of 1812 (1812-15), and Union gunboats shelled its waterfront buildings during the Civil War (1861-65).
Its military connections have continued with the establishment of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Shipbuilding, important in the town’s earliest days, again gained importance in the twentieth century. The opening of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in 1979 brought with it a healthy infusion of new residents to complement the hospitality industry-based population. As of 2002 the Kings Bay workforce included more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel.
As a growing retirement and bedroom community, St. Marys developed its current tourist economy. Calling itself “The Gateway to Cumberland Island,” the town is the departure point for those taking the ferry (the only transportation) to the Cumberland Island National Seashore. St. Marys is now well known as an ecotourism center, with a reputation for being friendly to newcomers, whether they are settling or just visiting.
In August of 2013, there were 30 residential homes sold in St. Marys at an average price of$325000, with the highest priced home selling for $1000000 and the lowest priced selling for$50000.
There are many wonderful homes in this area, but you need a local market expert to help you. Watson Realty Corp is a locally owned company with over 40 years experience selling homes in the area. Call the Watson experts at 800-257-5143.