During the last year of the 19th century, the train depot at the foot of Centre Street opened to travelers whose paths crossed the Gilded Age glory of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach. On June 8th, the next chapter in the little brick building's history began with the grand re-opening of the Amelia Island Welcome Center. “Amelia Island has been and continues to be a place of pirates and princesses, explorers and dreamers" said Fernandina Beach Mayor Ed Boner as characters in historical costume mingled among the crowd of over 100. With a unique blend of period detail and modern technology, the Welcome Center spotlights the activities and experiences Amelia Island offers. History literally surrounds you as you step inside and explore underneath the eight flags that have flown over Amelia Island and when you take a look at the story of David Yulee, whose statue in front of the Welcome Center is fast becoming one of Amelia Island's most popular places for a photo op. Interactive map tables and displays provide the latest information and bring in feeds from Amelia Island's popular Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels. Here's a virtual tour (and a little bit of Before and After) to give you a preview before you come visit in person.
The result of extraordinary public-private partnership between the City of Fernandina Beach, the Fernandina Restoration Foundations and the Board of County Commissioners/Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, fulfilled a decades-old dream. Through the 1930’s, the building served as a passenger depot. When the railroad no longer needed it, the depot was deeded to the local historical society, then in turn to the City of Fernandina Beach, with the specification that it be used to promote history. Because of its historical significance, the depot is included in the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. The Welcome Center is open 364 days a year, 9 to 5 on weekdays and 10 to 4 on weekends. And, the improvements will continue: the Fernandina Restoration Foundation announced at the event that they have pledged up to $50,000 to help construct a train platform next to the depot to be used as a community event and performance space. If you go: