Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tidbits from St. Augustine

Dec 11/St Augustine
8975 city gates
8976 oldest school house
7550 city gate with the fort behind it


One of the places my family and I visited when traveling from Massachusetts to Florida was St. Augustine, FL. We went through the old fort, Castillo de San Marco, which dates back to the 1672, and visited the oldest wooden school house and Trinity Episcopal Church with their famous stained glass windows. We rode in a Landau Carriage and had the grand tour of the old city. Years later, we moved to an hour and fifteen minute drive from our home to St. Augustine. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve visited the old city but it never ceases to amaze me.

I have two pictures of the city gates. The first is from a side angle that allows the viewer to see Castillo de San Marco in the background. The second is of the gates themselves in which the traveler would pass through to enter the city. Down this street you’ll find the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the United States. At one time they chained down the schoolhouse with a large chain and anchor to keep it from blowing away in a hurricane. What an interesting tidbit! In the photo below you will see the schoolhouse, the chain and the anchor.




The fort, Castillo de San Marco is the oldest mason constructed fort in the U.S.A. and was made from quarried Coquina, which is a stone like substance unique to the area made from small seashells. The quarry is outside the entrance to Anastasia State Park (great place to camp, btw). The Spanish settled the area; the British came in for a while, then reverted back to the Spanish and finally to the United States.

Ponce de Leon is credited with finding St. Augustine during his search for the fountain of youth. In fact, there is a site/tourist area of the Fountain of Youth. It’s another interesting place to visit. If you drink the water be prepared for the high sulfur content.

St. Augustine during the 19th Century was a port city. The St. John’s River was a major transportation route for the Floridians to sell their cattle and crops. Believe it or not, Florida produced more cattle than Texas until a few years ago. But we’ll get into that and the Florida Crackers in another post.

Finally, I’ll stop with a picture of the Alacazar Hotel which is now city hall and the Lightner museum. It was opened on Christmas day 1888 by Henry Flagler. It’s another interesting building to stop by and enjoy the shops, the koi, the architecture and soak up the days of old. And don’t forget to visit the old swimming pool, which is now a place to sit and visit. With a bit of imagination you can picture just how large this pool was and some of the ladders are still on the walls where the residents could climb up to their floors.


Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 39 years. Check out her 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog if you like exploring different tidbits of history.

33 comments:

  1. I think the story about the school house was what interested me the most. Question: Who is the creepy looking man in the window of the school house?
    Thank you for sharing this post and these pictures. God bless.

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    1. It's a mannequin of a student.

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    2. Thanks. I figured it wasn't real and that it represented someone from that era.

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  2. Hi Lynn, great post. When hubby and I married a few years back, we took our "first" (of two) honeymoons in St. Augustine. We both had lived in Florida for many years, but neither of us had been there, so we took a long weekend there, stayed in a bed and breakfast, and walked everywhere. Such an interesting city! I love the history there. Seems like a place I'd never get tired of!

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    1. I agree there is so much to see there and if you love geocaching there are a lot of caches hidden in St. Aug.

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  3. I visited this city many years ago, it is wonderful to walk where you know history was made long ago. Florida is a pretty state and always find interesting things to see and do there. I loved reading the stories by Eugenia Price and she spoke of the St Johns river a lot. thanks for sharing today.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. St Johns played a very important part in the development of Florida. I hope to get a publisher interested in that area and history some day.

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  4. I agree with Debbie, the chain and anchor of the school house struck me the most! Seriously, an anchor!! I love these little tidbits of history. :)
    Susan P

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    1. Struck me too the first time I saw it.

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  5. WOW,so cool to see some pictures...you always think you know what they look like but for sa school house it just looks so bland, =)
    truckredford(at)gmail(dot)(com)

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    1. LOL but it's still standing after all these years, so they must have done something right.

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  6. Interesting post. I have been to Florida a few times, but never made it to St. Augustine. Maybe the next time...

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  7. I love the beauty, architecture, & history of St. Augustine! Would love to drink from the Fountain of Youth - I grew up with both sulphur & cistern water, so wouldn't have any problems from the sulphur.

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

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    1. I thank the Lord for good filtered water here in Keystone. Orlando's got a lot of sulfur in their water too.

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  8. What a beautiful city! Would love to visit and living close enough to visit frequently must be a real treat!

    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It is and I'm grateful. We even go camping there, not too far away but far enough that you feel like you can rest and relax.

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  9. It is a treat to get to "see" the sights through a knowledgeable historian's eyes. Thank you, Lynn.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. There still so much I don't know about that place.

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  10. Love the post and the pictures, Lynn! What a great historical tidbit about the school being anchored down. I've never visited St. Augustine, but your post makes me want to.

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    1. Well if you do Ramona give me a call and we can go to some of my favorite restaurants.

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  11. We visited St. Augustine and I loved the town. We spent only one day sight seeing before heading on down to the opposite end of history...NASA. Two extremes, but both so important in our history. The town is beautiful with so much history. Thanks for bringing back the memories, Lynn.

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    1. Very different histories indeed, Martha. I'd love to rent a boat and spend sometime on the waterways of St. Augustine. Hopefully someday soon.

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  12. This looks like a great town for a history lover. I'd like to visit it one day, if I ever get to Florida again.

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    1. If you ever get down this way, Vickie, give me a call.

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  13. It's hard to imagine how the anchor kept the schoolhouse from blowing away! I would think the schoolhouse would disappear, leaving the chain and anchor behind! lol But, obviously, it did its intended job!

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    1. The chains are actually running through iron rings bolted into the schoolhouse.

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  14. Loved these pictures, Lynn! I have a friend who's visited St. Augustine and told me so much about it. I must go some day!

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    1. I agree it is one of those must see places, if you have the ability to go.

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  15. I really enjoyed this post! I rarely hear about St. Augustine so any tidbits about America's oldest city is fascinating. I share a name with the town so it has a little extra draw for me. Now I just need to visit...

    Jasmine A.

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  16. I love St. Augustine, I have visited I think five times. I went on three field trips and twice with my mother in law. I love all the history it has and how beautiful it is.

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    1. It's a great place to visit. We love camping there as well but I wouldn't recommend it during the hottest months. The bathrooms aren't ac'd and with temps in the high 90's taking a shower and coming out into a sauna...well you get the idea.

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