Howard White started building the homes in Secret Woods in 1984. The original show home is located on lot number one or 7429 Secret Woods Trail. This is the first house on the left from the main entrance. The sales building was located where the pool house is located today. The sales building, a small octagonal building, was moved to a church at Belfort and Hillsdale and has since been demolished. Howard donated it to the church after all the homes were built.
His first home was built at 3002 Autumn Wood Court for Jim and Barbara Fuller. Jim moved away for a couple of years but loved Secret Woods so much that they moved back. Jim is currently the Clerk of the Court for the City of Jacksonville.
The main entrance to Secret Woods is located on Tiger Hole Road, near Hillsdale.
One woman owned the entire acreage of Secret Woods. It was sold to Howard for a little over $80,000 dollars. Jim’s house replaced her estate home that was situated on that property. The remainder of the property was used for farming or unusable since it was swampy. Howard used the dirt from the retention ponds to fill in the marshy areas.
Since most of the people that lived in this area were poor laborers people did not venture into this area at nights. Gunshots and screams could be heard at all hours. Friday and Saturday nights were very interesting since Belfort was shut down for drag racing. Even the police rarely ventured into this part of town.
The Secret Woods community pool is open to residents and their guests year round.
Even as late as the mid 70s, property could be purchased for $1000 per acre. Secret Cove, located on Belfort was developed in 1974. Howard used similar building methods but improved Secret Woods by requiring Covenants and Restrictions and forming a Home Association.
This neighborhood is still the best kept secret in town. It offers easy access to the malls. It’s close to downtown and now located at ground central for Tinseltown. Now that the Tinseltown area has become so popular, neighbors are now mentioning that they live in the Tinseltown area…but locals know better.