Great Oak Tree
at Episcopal High School was a mere sapling when the first
European settlers came to North Florida and built permanent
homes on the banks of the St. Johns River.
tree, also known as the Keystone Oak, would have reached substantial
size when Mary Packer Cummings and her husband, Charles, built
the family estate, Keystone Bluff, in the 1880s. Mrs. Cummings
was the daughter of Asa Packer, who built Lehigh Valley Railroad,
founded Lehigh University and was governor of Pennsylvania.
Mary Packer Cummings died in 1912, she bequeathed the twenty-eight-acre
Keystone Bluff to St. John’s Episcopal Parish and, in 1921,
the church established a boys’ home on the property.
new bridge allowed access to the area and summer picnics in
the tree’s shade became common.
1966 Episcopal High School of Jacksonville was established,
and the Great Oak has shaded and sheltered students since
imposing profile embosses yearbooks, appears on school publications
and is the namesake for the school’s premier giving circle,
The Great Oak Society.