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St. Johns

MASSACRE OF THE FRENCH-MATANZAS INLET
Location:200 ft. S. of Matanzas Inlet Bridge, W. side A1A.
County: St. Johns
City: Summer Haven
Description: In 1565 some 300 French castaways, under Jean Ribault, were massacred here by Spaniards, crushing their attempt to occupy Florida. The French ships, sailing from Fort Caroline to attack St. Augustine, were driven ashore by a storm. At this inlet most of the survivors were put to the knife by Don Pedro Menendez. Hence it was named Matanzas, meaning Slaughters.
Sponsors: In Cooperation with St. Johns County Historical Commission
PICOLATA "PASS OF THE SALAMATOTO RIVER"
Location:S.R. 13 & S.R.208 (Picolata Road)
County: St. Johns
City: Picolata
Description: Here where the St. Johns River narrows, was a natural crossing used by Indians, and later by the Spaniards, in pushing west. A Spanish fort, built in 1700, protected the crossing and trail that led to Apalache, near Tallahassee. From 1836 to 1870, a stage line, connecting with river steamers, ran from this point to St. Augustine.
Sponsors: In Cooperation with St. Johns County Historical Commission
SENTINELS OF THE COAST
Location:Lighthouse Park.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Since early times, coastal towers were important in the defense of St. Augustine. From the wooden lookout here in 1586, Spanish sentries warned of approaching English raiders under Sir Francis Drake. Later the tower was built of stone. It served during the 1740 siege, was converted to a lighthouse in 1823 and used until it was lost to the sea. The present light replaced it in 1874.
Sponsors: St. Johns County Historical Commission in Cooperation with the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
MISSION NOMBRE DE DIOS
Location:San Marcos Avenue on grounds of Prince of Peace Ch
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: On this site, September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed with a band of settlers to found St. Augustine, first permanent Christian settlement in the United States. Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Spanish diocesan priest, offered here the first Mass in the Nation's first parish. The Spanish pioneers named this landing site Nombre de Dios-Name of God-and founded here the first mission in the United States.
Sponsors: In Cooperation with St. Johns County Historical Commission
PUBLIC BURYING GROUND
Location:St. Augustine, vicinity of City Gate, on grounds o
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: During the yellow fever epidemic of 1821, this half-acre plot was set aside as a public cemetery. Many Protestant pioneers to the new Florida Territory are buried here. Often such burials, make at public expense, went unmarked. The Presbyterian Church has owned and maintained the cemetery since 1832. Interments were discontinued in 1884.
Sponsors: St. Johns County Historical Commission
SPANISH DRAGOON BARRACKS
Location:61 Cordova St.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: A first Spanish period two-story coquina, shingle roofed structure, 33' x 19', erected on the east side of this lot became the barracks for the Spanish dragoons in 1792. Each story had two rooms. One upper room contained a rack for 20 muskets and 40 pistols, another rack for saddles and bridles, a table and two benches. A detached kitchen, coquina curbed well, stable and privy were located adjacent to the barracks. In the yard, a cultivated vegetable garden, orange, lemon and fig trees flourished. By 1822 the barracks had deteriorated and was razed.
Sponsors: The St. Johns County Historical Commission and the Security Federal Savings & Loan Association in Cooperation with Department of State
DR. PECK HOUSE
Location:St. George Street.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The stone walls of this building date from before 1750 and were a part of a house owned by the Royal Treasurer late in the First Spanish Period. During the British Period it served for a time as the home of Governor John Moultrie. In 1837 Dr. Seth S. Peck purchased the house and rebuilt it using the old walls and adding the frame second-story. It remained in the Peck family until willed to the City in 1931. A generous grant from the Flagler Foundation permitted extensive restoration in 1968.
Sponsors: St. Johns County Historical Commission in Cooperation with Department of State
FORT SAN DIEGO (DIEGO PLAINS)
Location:Landrum Ln, 0.2 miles West of CR 210
County: St. Johns
City: Ponte Vedra Beach
Description: In 1736 Diego de Espinosa owned a cattle ranch on Diego Plains, a flat, open area east of here. For protection against Indians, his house was surrounded by a 15-foot high palisade with two bastions at opposite corners. Manned later by Spanish soldiers, this post was known at Fort San Diego. On May 23, 1740, during the British expedition against St. Augustine, General James Oglethorpe's 400 man army captured the fort and its 50 defenders. The British added a ditch and breastwork, and used the fort to protect the St. Johns River-St. Augustine supply line. They evacuated the fort on July 25. By 1743 it lay in ruins.
Sponsors: Sponsored by St. Johns Historical Commission In Cooperation With Department of State
FLAGLER MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Location:Sevilla Street.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: St. Augustine had no Protestant church when it became an American town in 1821. At first a united Protestant church was favored. Many denominations sent missionaries such as Presbyterian Eleazer Lathrop, who first arrived in 1821. By October, 1823, the few resident Presbyterians had decided to build their own church. Rev. Wm. McWhir arrived to organize the congregation. In 1824, the First Presbyterian Church was constituted and a cornerstone was laid for a structure. That church, which was located on St. George Street, housed Florida's first formally constituted Presbyterian congregation until 1890.
OLD SPANISH QUARRIES
Location:Anastasia Island State Recreation Area, Anastasia Rd. south of Flamingo Dr.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: About 200 yards south-east of this point are the remains of the King's Coquina Quarries. (Coquina, a type of limestone composed of mollusk shells and sand, is found along the north-east coast of Florida.) Coquina was used in the building of many early colonial structures in St. Augustine, including the fortress Castillo de San Marcos (1672-1696). On July 21, 1821, Major General Andrew Jackson, Florida's first Territorial Governor, established St. Johns County, with St. Augustine as the county seat. It contained all of Florida east of the Suwannee River, approximately 39,400 square miles, with over 1,100 miles of coastline. Since 1821, more counties have been carved from St. Johns' original boundaries, reducing it to 609 square miles of land area.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the St. Johns Historical Commission In Cooperation With Department of State
CATHEDRAL OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Location:38. Cathedral Place.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The parish of St. Augustine, which dates from the celebration of a mass on September 8, 1565, by the Spaniard Pedro Menedez and his men, is the oldest Catholic parish within the present day United States. During Queen Anne's War, the English Governor of South Carolina, James Moore, raided St. Augustine and destroyed an earlier church. Plagued by financial difficulties, the parish was unable to construct a new church until this coquina edifice was begun in 1793. Completed in 1797, it became a cathedral in 1870 when St. Augustine was elevated to a diocese. Augustin Verot was invested as the first bishop. In 1887, fire severely damaged the cathedral, but the facade and walls remained standing and were preserved when the building was restored in 1887-1888. The chancel, transcept and campanile were added at that time. Further restoration was carried out in 1965.
Sponsors: Sponsored by St. Johns County Historical Commission In Cooperation With Department of State
PONCE de LEON HOTEL
Location:King St. at Flagler College
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The magnificent structure was erected between 1885 and 1887 by Henry M. Flagler, the hotel and railroad magnate whose activities contributed greatly to the development of Florida's eastern coastal area. Designed by the New York architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, the building reflects the Spanish Renaissance style throughout. The hotel was the first major edifice in the United States to be constructed of poured concrete, a mixture of cement, sand, and coquina shell. The interior is decorated with imported marble, carved oak, and murals painted by Tojetti and George W. Maynard. Its stained glass windows were created by Louis Tiffany of New York. The Ponce de Leon Hotel was the flagship of the Flagler hotel system which soon extended all along the east coast of Florida. Located in the "Winter Newport," this resort hotel entertained celebrities from around the world, including several U.S. Presidents. During World War II, the hotel served as a Coast Guard Training Center. In 1968, this historic landmark was converted into Flagler College, an accredited liberal arts institution. Independent and coeducational, the college serves students from across the nation.
Sponsors: Sponsored by St. Johns County Historical Commission In Cooperation With Department of State
OLD SPANISH CHIMNEY AND WELL
Location:Intersection of Old Beach Rd. and Riviera St.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: These ruins are all that remain of what was probably a Spanish barracks which housed the quarry overseer, master masons, and stonecutters who were involved in the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos. The quarry, located directly across the road from this site, contained rich veins of coquina which the Indian workers shaped into rough blocks. Under the supervision of the quarry overseer, Alonso Diaz Mejia, the blocks were transported by wagon and then by raft to the site of the Castillo. Completed in 1695, the great fortress was the keystone of the Spanish system of defense of Florida.
Sponsors: Sponosred by St. Johns County Historical Commission In Cooperation With Department of State
GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Location:8 Carrera St.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Grace United Methodist Church is a reminder of the tremendous physical impact Henry M. Flagler had on St. Augustine. This complex of structures resulted from a compromise between Flagler and the congregation of Olivet Church. That group of northern Methodists agreed to exchange the land on which their church and parsonage stood for a new complex designed by John M. Carrere and Thomas Hastings. Flagler, in turn, employed the same architects in designing his Alcazar Hotel, which rose on the former Olivet Site. Construction began in 1886 and was completed in late 1887. Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated in January 1888. The church and parsonage are excellent examples of the Spanish Renaissance Revival Style of architecture, and the decision to execute the design in poured concrete resulted in unusual and aesthetically pleasing structures which have stood the tests of time and the elements. Grace United Methodist Church was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on November 29, 1979.
Sponsors: Sponsored by Grace United Methodist Church In Cooperation With Department of State
GONZALEZ-ALVAREZ HOUSE - THE OLDEST HOUSE
Location:on St. Francis Street, next door to Tovar House.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: For more than three centuries this site has been occupied by St. Augustinians. Beginning about 1650, a succession of thatched wooden structures were their homes. This coquina stone house was built soon after the English burned St. Augustine in 1702, and originally was a one -story rectangle with two rooms. As times changed during the Spanish, British and American occupations, a wooden second story, an off-street porch, and other features were added. Preserved by the St. Augustine Historical Society since 1918, the house became a registered national landmark in 1970.
Sponsors: Sponsored by The St. Johns County Historical Commission In Cooperation With the Department of State
TOVAR HOUSE
Location:St. Francis Street
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The infantryman Jose Tovar lived on this corner in 1763. The original site and size of his house remained unchanged during the British period, when John Johnson, a Scottish merchant, lived here. After the Spanish returned in 1784, Jose Coruna, a Canary Islander with his family, and Tomas Caraballo, and assistant surgeon, occupied the house. Geronimo Alvarez, who lived next door in the Gonzaliz-Alvarez House, purchased the property in 1791. It remained in his family until 1871. A later occupant was Civil War General Martin D. Hardin, USA. The Tovar House has been owned by the St. Augustine Historical Society since 1918.
Sponsors: The Board of Commissioners of St. Johns County In Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
WORLD WAR II-OPERATION PASTORIUS / ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Location:200 Ponte Vedra Boulevard, In front of Vedra Inn & Club.
County: St. Johns
City: Ponte Vedra
Description: Side 1: On the night of June 16, 1942, German U-boat U-584 landed four trained Nazi agents here dressed as American civilians. After burying four boxes containing explosives and incendiaries in the sand, they boarded a bus en route to New York to rendezvous with another team of saboteurs. Two members of the New York team betrayed the operation to the FBI. All were apprehended, tried and convicted. The informers went to prison and the others were electrocuted on August 8, 1942. Side 2: On July 21, 1821, Major General Jackson, Florida's first Territorial Governor, established St. Johns County, with St. Augustine as the county seat. It contained all of Florida east of the Suwannee River, approximately 39,400 square miles, with over 1,100 miles of coastline. Since 1821, more than 2/3 of Florida's present 67 counties have been carved from St. Johns County's original boundaries reducing our County to 609 square miles.
Sponsors: The Beaches Area Historical Society, Inc. in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
WARDEN WINTER HOME
Location:19 San Marco Avenue
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The Warden Winter Home was built in 1887 for William G. Warden of Philadelphia. A partner with Henry Flagler and John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company, Warden was also the President of the St. Augustine Gas and Electric Light Company and Financial Director of the St Augustine Improvement Company. One of the most imposing private residences in the city, it was a center of winter social activity. Its Moorish Revival architecture and elaborate interior reflect the exuberance of the Gilded Age and St. Augustine's role as a winter resort. It remained in the Warden family through the 1930s. In 1941 it was purchased by Norton Baskin and remodeled as the Castle Warden Hotel. Baskin and his wife, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (author of The Yearling), had an apartment on the top floor. Many writers and other distinguished visitors came here during its decade as a hotel. Locally known as Warden Castle, it has served as Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum since 1950.
Sponsors: Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
TREATY PARK
Location:Treaty Park on Wildwood Drive
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: In 1823, two years after Florida was acquired by the United States, leaders of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes met with government officials on the banks of the creek near this site to settle conflicting claims to Florida lands. After twelve days of negotiation, they signed the treaty of Moultrie Creek on September 18, 1823. The tribes were to occupy a four million acre reservation of the interior peninsula extending roughly from Lake George to the Everglades. The Government was to assist their relocation and help support them there for a period of twenty years. Failure on both sides to comply with the terms of this and later treaties led to the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). The longest, most costly of American Indian wars decimated the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes and led to the surrender of most of the survivors for transportation to the reservations in the West. Some of the surviving natives escaped this forced migration by taking refuge in remote areas of the Everglades. Today their descendants still maintain the Seminole and Miccosukee cultural identity and contribute to Florida's diverse ethnic heritage. The exact site of the treaty signing is unknown. This park is dedicated in commemoration of that historic event.
Sponsors: The St. Johns County Commission in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
ST. AUGUSTINE ALLIGATOR FARM
Location:Anastasia Island, 999 Anastasia Boulevard.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of the oldest continuously operated attractions created specifically for the purpose of entertaining visitors to Florida. Its origins date to the early 1890s, the first decade of St. Augustine's emergence as a popular tourist destination. Alligators were initially used to attract visitors to a small museum and souvenir shop on St. Augustine Beach at the terminus of a tram railway that ran across Anastasia Island. The owners soon discovered the public's fascination with the reptiles and in 1909 incorporated the South Beach Alligator Farm and Museum of Marine Curiosities, which they moved to its present location in 1920. W.I. Drysdale and F. Charles Usina purchased ownership in 1936 and, after a disastrous fire, began at once to rebuild the facilities, expand the collection, and create national publicity for the attraction. Thousands of servicemen who visited the Alligator Farm during World War II helped to broadcast its popularity. The collection of alligators and other animals in a controlled environment has provided a unique opportunity for scientists who have conducted research in cooperation with the institution. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm's role in the development of tourism in the state was recognized in 1992 with its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: The St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
SEGUI-KIRBY SMITH HOUSE
Location:12 Aviles Street
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The Segui-Kirby Smith House is one of only 36 Spanish Colonial houses remaining in St. Augustine. The house dates from the late 1700s. The site on which it is situated has been continuously occupied since the late 1500s. In 1786 it became the home of Bernardo Segui, a prosperous merchant of Minorcan descent who was also baker to the garrison and a Spanish militia official. Judge Joseph Lee Smith, first Judge of the Superior Court for East Florida, rented the home about 1823 from Segui's heirs, and in time the family purchased it. Edmund Kirby Smith was born here in May 1824. A West Point graduate, he became at 38 the youngest lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and was the last Confederate general to surrender his command. When General Kirby Smith and his sister sold the home in 1887, it became a boarding house with offices. The small building on the west was the kitchen and dining room. In 1895 John L. Wilson and Frances Wilson, gave the lot and building in trust to a private organization for use as a free public library. Today the St. Augustine Historical Society holds the property under this trust as its historical research library.
Sponsors: The St. Johns County Commission in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
LINCOLNVILLE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Location:Intersection of MLK Ave & Bridge St.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Once the site of Indian Villages, colonial plantations and orange groves, Lincolnville began as a settlement of emancipated slaves in 1866. African-Americans, who trace their origins to the City’s 16th century founding, played an integral role in the history of St. Augustine for centuries before the forced segregation of the late 1800s led them to create their own community institutions. Here, they built churches, schools, and a vibrant business center surrounded by residences that displayed the ornate architecture of the age. By 1930, Lincolnville had become a major part of the City, encompassing both the African-American community itself and the adjacent white residential areas that had grown up with it. In 1964, civil rights demonstrations organized in Lincolnville attracted attention and influenced Congressional debated that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today, the fifty-block Lincolnville neighborhood still contains the Ancient City’s largest concentration of late Victorian Era buildings, most of them private homes. The Lincolnville Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the City of St. Augustine and the Florida Department of State
VILLA ZORAYDA
Location:83 King St. LOCATED ON KING STREET (BUS, U.S. 1) BET
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The Villa Zorayda was constructed in 1883 as the winter home of Franklin Smith, a Boston millionaire who was so impressed by the magnificence of the Alhambra Palace which he saw during a visit to Granada, Spain, that he decided to build his house as an exact replica of one wing of the palace at one-tenth of the original size. The 12th century palace had been built by the Moors who ruled Spain for six centuries before being expelled in 1492. Smith, a gifted amateur architect, designed the house himself, using the innovative technique of constructing the building with poured concrete reinforced with crushed coquina stone. Many other materials used in finishing the residence were imported from Spain. In 1913, the building was bought by Abraham S. Mussallem. In 1922, it became a nightclub and gambling casino which closed in 1925 when Florida outlawed gambling. In 1936, it was opened as a tourist attraction called the Zorayda Castle, exhibiting items fitting the architectural theme of the building. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
Sponsors: Zorayda Castle and Florida Department of State
MAJOR DADE AND HIS COMMAND MONUMENTS
Location:St. Augustine National Cemetary
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: On December 28, 1835, during the Second Seminole War, a column of 108 U.S. Army soldiers dispatched from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to relieve the detachment at Fort King (Ocala) was surprised by a strong force of Seminole Indians near Bushnell in Sumter County. Except for three soldiers and an interpreter, the entire column of 108 men, led by Major Francis Langhorne Dade, perished in battle that day. On August 15, 1842, Dade and his command, as well as other casualties of the war, were re-interred here under three coquina stone pyramids in a ceremony marking the end of the conflict. Among those buried with Dade are Captain George W. Gardiner, U.S. Military Academy (U.S.M.A.) 1814, first Commandant of Cadets at West Point, and Major David Moniac, U.S.M.A., 1822, a Creek Indian and first Native-American graduate of the Military Academy.
Sponsors: THE WEST POINT SOCIETY OF NORTH FLORIDA AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
ZORA NEALE HURSTON
Location:791 W. King St..
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Noted author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) rented a room in this house in 1942. One of the few surviving buildings closely linked with Hurston’s life, it is an example of frame Vernacular construction, with cool, north-facing porches on both floors. The owners frequently rented to female students at nearby Florida Normal and Industrial Institute (now Florida Memorial College in Miami). While living here Hurston taught part time at the Institute and completed her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. Also, she met novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, a St. Augustine resident and author of The Yearling. Earlier in 1927 Hurston married Herbert Sheen, a Chicago medical student, at the St. Johns County Courthouse. Hurston was one of the first to appreciate the significance of Fort Mose north of St. Augustine, the first town settled by free black people in the United States. Her article on Fort Mose appeared in the October, 1927 issue of the Journal of Negro History. During her lifetime Hurston traveled the back roads of Florida collecting folk stories and songs that she used to write musical plays, short stories, and novels.
Sponsors: ST. JOHNS COUNTY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
ST. AMBROSE PARRISH
Location:6070 Church Road
County: St. Johns
City: Hastings
Description: The intact buildings and grounds of St. Ambrose Parish reflect the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to reach small rural communities in Florida. Catholic Mass was first celebrated with settlers in a barn here at Moccasin Branch in the early 1800s. In 1875, St. Ambrose Parish was established when a small wood frame church was built by Father Stephen Langlade. Father Langlade was a skilled carpenter from France who also built a rectory, school, convent, and a larger church by 1907. A second convent was built after the first one burned in 1917, and a new parish hall was built in 1938. Students attended the school from 1881 through 1948 under the tutelage of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who lived in the convent. The early settlers of the area were farmers of Spanish, Irish, Minorcan, Greek, and Italian heritage. Their descendants, with names such as Ashton, Floyd, Lopez, Masters, Ortagus, Pacetti, Pappy, Pellicer, Rogero, Sanchez, Solana, Solano, Triay, Weedman, and others, continue to live in the area and attend the small parish church. The pioneers whose daily lives were intertwined with St. Ambrose Parish are buried in the cemetery nearby.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
GOVERNOR GRANT'S PLANTATIONS
Location:2690 S. Ponte Vedra Blvd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: In 1768, James Grant (1720-1806), Governor of British East Florida from 1763 to 1773, established Grant's Villa Plantation at the juncture of the Guana and North Rivers. Enslaved Africans cleared the 1,450-acre tract of land, planted indigo seeds, and processed the plants into blue indigo dye. Indigo dye became East Florida's main export, and Grant's Villa was its most profitable plantation. By 1780, due to declining soil fertility and the disruption of transportation routes during the American Revolution, indigo cultivation was no longer profitable. Ordered to develop a new estate 12 miles north at the headwaters of Guana River, overseer William Brockie and the slaves completed Mount Pleasant Plantation in 1781. Just south of today's Mickler Road, between SR A1A and Neck Road, the slaves built two earthen dams which enclosed a 220-acre rice field. The dam on the south blocked the flow of salty tidal water. The barricade to the north created a fresh water reservoir. In 1784, following the return of East Florida to Spain, both plantations were abandoned and the enslaved Africans were transported to The Bahamas, from where they were sold to rice planters in South Carolina.
Sponsors: ST. JOHNS COUNTY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
WILLIAM BARTRAM'S PLANTATION
Location:Near intersection SR 16 & 13
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: In 1766 on the banks of the St. Johns River at Little Florence Cove, William Bartram attempted to farm a 500-acre land grant. Bartram had spent much of the previous year exploring the new British colony of East Florida with his father, John Bartram, the Royal Botanist for America under King George III. When John Bartram returned home, near Philadelphia, the younger Bartram stayed in Florida. He hoped like many other settlers to make a fortune exporting cash crops such as indigo and rice. Using six enslaved Africans, Bartram cleared the forest and planted, but within a year he abandoned his farm and returned home. Bartram was known in England for illustrating his father s botanical specimens. Between 1773-1777 patrons financed Bartram’s further exploration of the American Southeast. In 1791, he published his observations in Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, one of the most influential travel accounts of the American frontier. Rather than write a mere scientific catalog, Bartram produced a joyful and tender portrait of a virgin land with an infinite variety of animated scenes, inexpressibly beautiful and pleasing which inspired the poets of England’s Romantic Movement.
Sponsors: ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THE OLD ST. JOHNS COUNTY JAIL
Location:167 Marco Ave.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Built in 1891, the St. Johns County Jail held prisoners until 1953. The previous county jail was located next to the Hotel Ponce de Leon in downtown St. Augustine, Florida. Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913), co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, founder of the Florida East Coast Railroad and major real estate developer, donated $10,000 towards construction of this new jail. It is the oldest surviving government building in St. Johns County. The architecture is Romanesque Revival with elements of Queen Anne Victorian. It was constructed by the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, which would later build Alacatraz prison in California along with several other jails throughout North America. Up to 72 inmates could be housed in the building along with living quarters for the sheriff and his family. The conditions were primitive for most of its history with up to four inmates in a cell, no indoor plumbing until 1914 and open barred windows. When the last inmates were transferred out in 1953, the old jail building became a tourist attraction recreating what life was like for prisoners at the turn of the century.
Sponsors: THE OLD JAIL, INC. AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BLACK CATHOLIC HERITAGE
Location:86 Martin Luther King Blvd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: This block of property owned by the Catholic Church contains three historic buildings that embody an important part of African American heritage of St. Augustine. It was part of “Yallaha” orange grove plantation before the Civil War and was conveyed to the church by the Dumas family in 1890. The first building was constructed in 1898 was the school, originally called St. Cecilia, later St. Benedict. It is the oldest surviving brick schoolhouse in St. Augustine. With a tower and original wraparound porch, it was a landmark of Victorian architecture. It was the gift of Mother Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), a wealthy Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People and established more than 60 parochial schools around the country. On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II named Mother Drexel a saint, and two St. Augustinians attended the canonization ceremony at the Vatican. The Sisters of St. Joseph, a teaching order that was brought here in 1866, operated St. Benedict School. They were involved in a celebrated civil rights case when, on Easter Sunday 1916, three of the nuns - Sisters Mary Thomasine Hehir, Mary Scholastica Sullivan, and Mary Beningus Cameron - were arrested for violating a 1913 Florida law that made it a criminal offense for whites to teach in a black school. They were released when a judge ruled the law did not apply to private schools. After serving many generations of students (of several religions) from kindergarten through eighth grade, St. Benedict School was closed in 1964 when local Catholic schools were integrated. St. Benedict the Moor Church, on the north end of the property, was begun in 1909 and completed in 1911. It was designed by the Savannah architects Robinson and Reidy, who designed Orange Street School at the same time. The church was named for a Sicilian friar (1526-1589) who was known as “The Holy Negro” for his charitable work and canonized in 1807. The use of his name here had earlier roots in the St. Benedict Benevolent Society, begun before the Civil War and incorporated in 1872 by St. Augustine’s black Catholics. The red brick rectory building between the church and the school was constructed in 1915, and for many years housed the Josephite Fathers out of Baltimore who pastored here. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the rectory in 1964.
Sponsors: THE DIOCESE OF ST. AUGUSTINE AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
ST. AUGUSTINE SEA WALL
Location:Avenida Menendez Near Marine St
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: This portion of the St. Augustine sea wall, extending from King Street to the south end of St. Francis Barracks, was constructed during the period 1833 to 1844. The coquina wall with granite top served as protection for the homes and businesses on the waterfront. Stone for the walls was quarried across the Matanzas River on Anastasia Island. The granite coping came from Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Together with the refurbishing of the Castillo de San Marcos, renamed Fort Marion by the Army, this project was an early example of the work assigned to graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the first engineering school in the United States. This was one of the earliest federally funded projects in the Territory of Florida. The West Point graduates who designed and supervised the work were: 1st Lieutenant Stephen Tuttle (1797-1835; Class of 1820); 1st Lieutenant Francis L. Dancy (1806-1890; Class of 1826), 1st Lieutenant Henry W. Benham (1818-1884; Class of 1837) and 1st Lieutenant Jeremy F. Gilmer (1818-1883; Class of 1839).
Sponsors: THE WEST POINT SOCIETY OF NORTH FLORIDA AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DOUBLE BRIDGES AND OLD KING'S ROAD 1772
Location:Dark Horse Ln, near Pellicer Creek
County: St. Johns
City: Hastings
Description: The King’s Road, an overland highway constructed during Florida’s British Colonial period (1763-1784), once traversed the Double Bridges property at this location. The road spanned Pellicer Creek, Hulett Branch, and swamp wetlands over a system of wooden bridges and raised earthen causeways. This crossing has long been called Double Bridges, named for the unusual combination of the two spans built so close together. Remnants of the King’s Road, marked by road cuts through high sandy bluffs and a short section of a causeway, are visible here. A longer section of causeway can be seen on the south side of Pellicer Creek. The bridges are gone, but remaining piers and extensive earthworks serve as monuments to this historic crossing. The causeways and bridges, spanning some 625 feet of swampland, were once an important part of the 18th century road that connected St. Augustine and New Smyrna. This major project, commissioned in 1772, was built to solidify East Florida as the British Crown’s 14th colony. Double Bridges and the Old King’s Road were recorded to the Florida Master Site File as historic sites 8SJ4892 and 8SJ4893 in 2002.
Sponsors: THE DOUBLE BRIDGES COMMUNITY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BELUTHAHATCHEE
Location:S.R. 13 between Wedgewood and Roberts Rd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: "Beluthahatchee" as defined by noted author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is a mythical "Florida Shangri-la, where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten." When Florida author/activist Stetson Kennedy (b. 1916) moved here, the site was named and set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. After WWII, he infiltrated and exposed the KKK and other domestic terrorist groups. Kennedy's books include Palmetto Country (1942), Southern Exposure (1946), Jim Crow Guide (1956), and The Klan Unmasked (1957). The latter two were translated around the world. This site served as headquarters for his pioneering 1950 "total equality" write-in bid for the U.S. Senate. His book, After Appomattox, was completed here in 1995, with the help of his wife Joyce Ann. That year he won the Gustavus Meyer Award for doing the most to combat bigotry in the USA. In April 2005 Kennedy was inducted into the Florida Artist’s Hall of Fame. Beluthahatchee also served as a Florida hangout for America's legendary folk balladeer, Woody Guthrie. Here, Guthrie completed his autobiographical book, Seeds of Man, and over 80 Florida songs, including "Beluthahatchee Bill.” This site was designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Library-USA in 2003.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PALM VALLEY
Location:148 Canal Blvd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: This rich hammock land once covered with oaks, magnolias and especially palms was originally known as the Plains of Diego, after Don Diego de Espinosa, who built a small fort nearby in the 1730’s. Around 1900, the community of Diego was renamed Palm Valley after the Sabal Palm. The Sabal or Cabbage Palm, Florida’s state tree, was for many years an important contributor to the local economy, adding hundreds of dollars annually to the meager income of area settlers. Each winter, orders came from the nation’s churches for fresh cut palm buds for the celebration of Palm Sunday. Palm buds were cut by the thousands, packed in bunches of twenty-five or fifty, and taken to Durbin Station on the Florida East Coast Railway where they were picked up by the train. Later, after the Intracoastal Waterway was opened in 1912, stacks of palms were taken to a dock on the canal where they were picked up by the Navajo or the Alamo, two packet boats that hauled freight between Miami and Jacksonville over the new waterway. The completion of the Intracoastal Waterway through Palm Valley, in addition to allowing boat passage, effectively drained much of the area that was formerly marshland.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
VILANO BEACH CASINO
Location:Anahama Dr. by Ferrol Rd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Formerly at this site stood the Vilano Beach Casino, constructed in 1926-27. Casinos of the early 1900s were a source of social entertainment. Gambling was not provided. Big name bands from New York, vaudeville acts, theme parties and dances were hosted here. This unique oceanfront casino had monumental architecture on property 300 feet wide and 250 feet deep, a salt water swimming pool 150 feet long by 50 feet wide, and fine dining. A palm log bridge over the North River provided access to the island by car. The casino was the cornerstone of a major development platted as Vilano Beach by the St. Augustine & Atlantic Corporation headed by New York Philanthropist August Heckscher. Automobile and rail travel brought potential buyers during the 1920s Florida Land Boom, however, the plan failed during the Great Depression, and storms of 1938-1939 washed the casino into the sea. Today Mr. Heckscher’s dream is being revitalized. A public recreation area was built in 2004 on the casino site, and the 1920s era layout is the basis for a sustainable town center master plan by the Vilano Beach Main Street Waterfronts Group, a partnership between North Shores Improvement Association (est. 1939) and St. Johns County.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
SURFSIDE DANCE HALL AND BATH HOUSE
Location:3072 Coastal Hwy. (SR A1A)
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Here from the early 1900s stood Surfside “Casino.” Casinos did not offer gambling - they were entertainment centers. Surfside was built as part of the Capo family resort destination of 165 acres. The yacht Pauline II ferried visitors from St. Augustine up the North River to Capo's Landing at the west end of Surfside Avenue where they could stay at Capo's Hotel and have a five course meal at a 120-seat restaurant for 25 cents. A horse drawn trolley brought visitors to Capo's Beach where the casino offered an upstairs dance hall, a downstairs bathhouse, and a venue for horse races, organized sports and picnic events. A bathing beauty might have her photo taken in front of a biplane on the beach. The North Shores Improvement Association began meeting here in 1939 to improve the quality of life on this barrier island. During and after World War II, Surfside was popular with military personnel where local bands and jukebox music were enjoyed. The building remained a favorite place for young people to have parties through the 1960s. In the 1970s the aging building was torn down and the site converted to a county oceanfront park.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
KING’S ROAD
Location:On Palencia Club Drive just east of Highway U.S. 1
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The British laid the original route for King’s Road between 1772 and 1775 in an effort to encourage settlement into this area. Extending from St. Mary’s, Georgia to Andrew Turnbull’s Minorcan colony at New Smyrna, King’s Road intersects Palencia Club Drive at this point. The initial construction of King’s Road included bridges for crossing creeks & wetlands. When the American Colonies declared independence from England in 1776, nearly 7,000 Loyalists used this route to seek asylum in Florida, which remained loyal to the British Crown. When the British left Florida as part of the 1783 Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, maintenance of King’s Road lagged until Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821. During the early 20th century, oyster shell was added to the road bed & some areas were paved with red brick. Portions of the original course of King’s Road have been incorporated into modern trails and roads, particularly US 1, or are abandoned such as the portion visible here.
Sponsors: THE MARSHALL CREEK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DISTRICTAND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAVIS SHORES
Location:North End, Anastasia Island
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Until the 1920s the northwest corner of Anastasia Island was a swampy lowland with occasional peaks of high ground. In 1925, wealthy Florida land developer D.P. Davis, purchased the lowlands and raised them in a massive 1,500 acre dredge and fill operation. Davis designed and subdivided the new land to provide for 50 miles of streets, 100 miles of sidewalks and curbs, parks, plazas, two 18 hole golf courses, a casino, Roman pool, yacht club, hotel, apartments, residences and business districts. Its distinctive curving street patterns, wide boulevards, unusual triangulated lots in a garden-like setting exhibit key elements of the most influential city planning movements of that time: the City Beautiful, Picturesque and Garden City movements. While many lots were sold, Florida's Land Bust of 1926 ended Davis' dream. Only eleven Mediterranean Revival style structures were built: six houses, four apartments, and a sales office for the Davis Corporation. By 1927, the newly completed Bridge of Lions led to a depressed area. Not until the prosperous post-World War II years did Davis Shores see revived interest and rapid growth. Today, Davis Shores still retains much of the original design and most of its 1920s structures.
Sponsors: THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
SANKSVILLE CEMETERY
Location:2380 Joe Ashton Rd.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: This cemetery was most likely established after the Civil War to serve the settlement of Bakersville. The cemetery was used by both black and white members of the community, with black families buried in the eastern half of the property. The earliest marked death date is 1869, though many graves are unmarked. Originally named Bakersville Cemetery, the cemetery’s present name reflects the legacy of the Sanks family of African-American heritage. The first Sanks to settle in the region was Peter Sanks, born a slave in 1819. Following emancipation, Peter purchased large tracts of land in this area. His son, Tip Harrison Sanks, was born in St. Johns County in 1841. Tip also purchased land in the area following the Civil War including this cemetery, acquired in 1901. Tip’s daughter, Julia, became custodian after his death and the cemetery has remained in the Sanks family. Julia is thought to be the inspiration for the black-inspired works of composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934) who heard her singing when he lived near here in Solano Groves on the St. Johns River. Lewis Sanks, Tip’s grandson, honored his ancestors buried here, by renaming the cemetery and its adjacent land “Sanksville” in 1989.
Sponsors: THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
EVERGREEN CEMETERY
Location:SE. 10th Ave. at Evergreen Cemetary
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Established in 1886 outside the city limits when St. Augustine closed its small urban graveyards due to overcrowding, Evergreen became the region’s largest Protestant cemetery of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The design was strongly influenced by America's Rural Cemetery Movement stressing that burying and commemorating the dead was best done in a tranquil, natural landscape set apart from urban life. These principles are reflected in Evergreen’s garden setting and its winding roads and pathways. Many styles of funerary embellishments popular during the period are evidenced in large monuments, elegant statuary, ornamental plantings and formal landscaping. Grave marker iconography includes reclining lambs, praying angels, broken columns, Celtic crosses, flower motifs, Woodmen of the World "trees", and monuments featuring classical revival designs and shapes. Evergreen is the final resting place of Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), considered the originator of children's picture books and after whom the national Caldecott Medal for distinguished children’s picture book is named; and Heath Canfield (1849-1913), winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in action as a U.S. Cavalryman in 1870.
Sponsors: THE ST.JOHNS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY-GENERAL OFFICE BUILDINGS
Location:Malaga St. between Oviedo and King St.
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: Henry M. Flagler built the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) to link his resort empire and establish the east coast of Florida as "The American Riviera." Flagler, partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, developed the Atlantic shoreline with a chain of luxury hotels from Jacksonville to Key West. Perhaps Flagler's greatest achievement was construction of the Key West Extension finished shortly before his death in 1913. By 1916, the FEC Railway included 23 railroads, terminals, and bridge companies along 739 miles of track. Steamships linked the railroad at Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, and at Key West to Havana, Cuba. The Florida East Coast Hotel Company owned 14 resorts joined by the rail lines. In St. Augustine, Flagler's 1888 railway station west of downtown was replaced by three office towers built starting from south to north in 1922, 1923, and 1926. They served as the Railway's headquarters until 2006, when the FEC provided a $7.2 million gift-in-equity, making possible the transfer of the property to Flagler College. The College is committed to preservation of the buildings and adapting them for College uses.
Sponsors: Flagler College and the Florida Department of State
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
Location:Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, by ticket booth
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: The Fountain of Youth Park commemorates the 1513 arrival of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida and the legend of the Fountain of Youth. People have lived on this site for over 3000 years, since the Archaic Period of Florida’s history. In 1565 Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles established the first successful European colony in America at St. Augustine and his first settlement was built here on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth Park. At that time it was part of the large Timucua town of Chief Seloy. Within nine months Timucua resistance forced the Spaniards to move the colony across the bay. In 1572 it was moved back to the mainland to its present downtown location. In 1587 the first Franciscan mission to the American Indians was built here and named Nombre de Dios. The Mission remained here until the middle of the 17th century. Archaeological excavations at the Fountain of Youth Park since 1934 have revealed the shell mounds of the Archaic inhabitants, parts of Seloy’s town, remains of the Spanish colony and the church and cemetery of the Nombre de Dios mission. There is probably no other single property in Florida that contains such an array of important archaeological resources for our state’s early history.
Sponsors: The Fraser Family and the Florida Department of State
ORANGE STREET SCHOOL
Location:40 Orange St
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: St. Augustine High and Grade School opened on October, with an enrollment of more than 400 students in Grades 1-12. The new public school, billed locally as “the finest school in Florida,” was the inspiration of W.S.M. Pinkham, Mayor of St. Augustine and Superintendant of Public Instruction in St. Johns County. The three-story eclectic-revival style school was designed by Robinson & Reidy, Associate Architects, of Savannah and New York, and was constructed at a cost of $60,000. It features a clay tile work, carved rafter ends, an arched entranceway, stepped gables, hipped roof towers, and decorative tile work. The school’s first floor basement contained lunch and recreation rooms and bicycle storage areas. The second and third floors housed 23 classrooms, a large auditorium, and a library. Two science labs were located on the small fourth floor. Theodore Culp, former principle of the DeLand Schools, was appointed as the school’s first principal. The School’s first graduating class in May 1911 included six students. When the school closed in December 1981, it was known as Orange St. Elementary School. Since 1983, the building has housed the St. Johns County School Board and District Administration Offices.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the St. Johns County School Board and the Florida Department of State.
THE XIMENEZ-FATIO HOUSE
Location:20 Aviles Street
County: St. Johns
City: St. Augustine
Description: This two-story coquina house and detached kitchen was built for Spanish merchant Andres Ximenez ca. 1789 fir use as a general store, tavern and family residence. After Florida became a US Territory in 1821, Margaret Cook bough the property in 1823 and, with Eliza Whitehurst, operated it as “Mrs. Whitehurst’s Boardinghouse.” Sarah Petty Anderson bought the house in 1838 and in 1851 she retained Lousia Fatio to manage it as a boarding house. Fatio bought the property four years later and ran it as a fashionable in for twenty years, proving lodging for Florida’s earliest tourists who came to seek a healthier climate. In 1939, the Fatio heirs sold the house to the National Society of Colonial Dames of America- Florida for use as a house museum. Considered one of St. Augustine’s best preserved Spanish Colonial Dwellings, the Ximenez-Fatio House depicts the boarding house lifestyle of Florida’s territorial/Early Statehood Period. It is one of the first museums in America to interpret 19th century women’s history. Multiple archeological excavations document the properties occupation by the Native Americans, Spanish, and British. A rare Spanish Caravaca Cross (ca. 1650) was found on this site.
Sponsors: The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida and the Florida Department of State.
30° 8’ NORTH LATITUDE
Location:SR A1A in North Beach Access Parking Lot of GTM Research Reserve
County: St. Johns
City: Ponte Vedra Beach
Description: This site is believed by some historians to correspond with the offshore location where Juan Ponce de León calculated his fleet’s position when he first sighted Florida. Ponce’s fleet of three vessels set sail from Puerto Rico in early March 1513. On Sunday, March 27, the day of the Festival of the Resurrection, they sighted what they thought was an island. After sailing northwest along the coast, the fleet moved close to shore, and at noon on April 2 a sighting of the sun was taken, probably with either a quadrant or mariner’s astrolabe. In his work, "Historia General de los Hechos de Los Castellanos en las Islas Y Tierra Firme del Mar Océan", published in 1601, Spanish historian Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas recorded that the location was 30° 8’ [north latitude]. Herrera’s appointment by Phillip II of Spain as the major chronicler of the Indies gave him access to authentic sources, including documents made during Ponce’s voyage that would not have been available to other writers. This site has been preserved in its natural condition by the State of Florida and is likely what Ponce de León would have seen as he approached Florida for the first time in 1513.
Sponsors: Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve and the Florida Department of State