Orange Park was the site of a cotton and citrus British plantation, Laurel Grove, which was established by William and Rebecca Pengree during Florida's British Period (1763-1783). Following the American Revolution, Florida was returned to Spain, and the Pengrees left. They returned in 1786 with their slaves and a Spanish land grant to produce pine pitch and turpentine (naval stores) for the Spanish. After William's death in 1793, Rebecca ran the plantation until she sold it in 1803 to Zephaniah Kingsley who expanded it. The plantation flourished until it was burned in 1813.
In 1877, the Florida Winter Home and Improvement Company created the Town of Orange Park on most of the original Pengree land claim. Developer Washington Gano Benedict attracted northern buyers by planting acres of oranges in a system of home and agricultural plots. A 5-acre plot sold for $600 and included cleared, fenced land planted with 250 orange trees. River boats brought tourists to the Hotel Marion, including Ulysses S. Grant and Philip H. Sheridan, as well as Buffalo Bill Cody and Chief Sitting Bull in 1880. Small farms, sawmills, and naval stores, in addition to tourism, made up the town's economy.