We at Happy Acres Ranch are very proud of our long, rich history.
Happy Acres Ranch was founded by Marion Scarborough in 1953. The property consists of 10 acres extending from Crane Ave. to Silversmith Creek. The camp has been accredited by the American Camp Association since 1966. In 1973, Happy Acres Ranch was incorporated. The original property which Happy Acres Ranch now stands was part of a large land grant from the King of Spain and was given to a solider named John Richard. At one time, a narrow gauge railroad ran along the western edge of the property where the tennis court, art shelter, maintenance shed and barn no sit. Handmade spikes and cross ties can still be found buried on the property. In the early 1900’s, a brick factory with two giant kilns was built near the present site between the art shelter and the barn. The clay for the bricks was dug from what is now our lake. The brick factory changed owners several times. The bricks were shipped down Silversmith Creek to the St. Johns River. The last barge was so heavy that it sunk in the creek. Summer campers routinely find these century old bricks in the woods.
After World War I, some friends of Judge Holmes established a hunting and fishing camp and built the lake house as a summer home. On the floor of the lake house, you can still see the words “Fredith” which means lake. A developer, Mr. Ripley, purchased the property to make a subdivision of 22 homes, however Ms. Scarborough persuaded him the sell her the land to establish a children’s camp in the city. When she first moved in, the property consisted of a small 2 story concrete block building with a small front porch and a large back patio and the lake house. You can still see the outline of the original building if you look hard enough. From the outside, the highest peaked roof is the building. From the inside, the Apple Blossoms room and the back of the Book Worms room where the first floor. You can see the old, what where, outside siding in the Curious Explorers room and the Care Bear rooms. Shortly after moving in, Ms. Scarborough hauled an old WWII G.I. home from the FSCJ Kent Campus to HAR. This building is now the back of the Busy Bees room. The Shooting Stars room was a small original front porch that was expanded and enclosed. The Curious Explorers room was the back patio that was enclosed and served as the dining room for many years. The lunch room and front part of the Busy Bees room were added in 1963.The Care Bears and Teddy Bears rooms were added in 1968. The front part of the Book Worms room was a porch that connected to the current porch in front of the 68′ addition.
Since those times we have grown into one of the best child care centers in Jacksonville. In the summer, we enroll an average of 250 children between our preschool and summer camp program. Our objective is to provide quality child care in a relaxed environment with an emphasis on child development.