The first European settlement in the St. Andrews Bay area was along Beach Drive between Frankford Avenue and Lake Caroline, known as Old Town or St. Andrews City. Retired Georgia governor John Clark and his wife Nancy built a home and lived there from 1827 until their deaths in 1832. Just a few people resided year-round in St. Andrews, earning a living making salt, fishing, and boarding vacationers who came to the area for the “healthy sea baths” and the fishing.
By the mid-1800s, the summer population was between 1,200-1,500. The Clark home was converted into a hotel known as The Tavern. One visitor to the hotel was noted Southern writer Caroline Hentz. Lake Caroline was named for her. In 1845, the town was referred to as “St. Andrews” by the post office. The geodetic survey of 1855 (the first official survey) showed the town as “St. Andrews City,” and the bay was called “St. Andrews Bay.” In 1902, the post office accidentally left the “s” off and never corrected it. The St. Andrews Bay News, printed by George M. West in the early 1900s, listed the town as “St. Andrews” but referred to the post office as “St. Andrew.” Most continue to refer to the community as “St. Andrews.”
During the Civil War, St. Andrews was a strategic salt supplier to the Confederate troops, making it a target for the North. Federal troops made many raids in the area, and the town was destroyed in 1863.