We at The Old Powder House welcome you to the “Old City”! Our charming, turn-of-the-century Bed & Breakfast is located in the heart of the St Augustine, Florida’s Historic District. You will be just steps from St. George Street, world renowned restaurants and many historic attractions. Stroll the cobblestone streets and enjoy the very best St. Augustine has to offer. We have provided extensive information on our site about all the wonderful activities, beaches, and shopping to discover in our nation’s oldest city! Check out http://augustine.com/events/featured-events for all upcoming events and attractions.
To appreciate the rich culture and heritage of St. Augustine, it’s important to understand how the Old City came to be. The colony of St. Augustine was first founded by the Spanish when Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 600 soldiers landed on the Florida coast in September 1565. Menendez de Aviles had been commissioned by the King of Spain to drive out pirates. The French garrison stationed itself on the St. Johns River to establish and protect Spain’s claim and interests in Florida. The Spanish had some very lucrative treasure ventures in Central and South America, but as the ships returned to Spain, they were being looted by pirates hiding out along the coast of Florida. By 1695, the Spaniards had built a well fortified fort, Castillo de San Marcos, made of coquina, a hard rock-like material made of broken shells. It is due to the hard material and immense structure of the fort that St. Augustine was never conquered.
In 1763, Spain ceded Florida to the British. For twenty years, the British controlled St. Augustine. In 1783 the Treaty of Paris returned Florida to the Spanish. On July 10, 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States. Spanish control in Florida was over. In 1885, Henry Flagler came to St. Augustine and changed the Old City forever. He brought the railroad industry to Florida and with it, tourists. Flagler developed golf courses, yacht racing and beaches to enjoy, and the nation’s elite flocked to St. Augustine to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and social refinement. In 1899, the Old Powder House Inn was built, and today, the house is a fine example of the Victorian architectural elements that characterized Flagler’s era. Come stay with us in the heart of the St Augustine Historic District and walk to the St Augustine Forts and other historical sites. Our St Augustine, FL Bed & Breakfast accommodations and rooms will transport you back to the luxury and ambiance of St. Augustine’s Golden Era. Come appreciate the old world romance, scenic beauty and warm ocean breezes in St. Augustine, Florida.
Although the St. Augustine burial ground was not designated a national cemetery until 1881, this hallowed site played a vital role in the colorful history of the oldest city in the nation. St. Augustine was originally established in the 17th century as a Spanish colonial possession. The land that is now a national cemetery was part of a Franciscan monastery, and the southern boundary marks the periphery of the old Spanish-walled city. During England’s rule of Florida from 1763 to 1783, the monastery was occupied by the military. During the second Spanish occupation of Florida, from 1783 to 1821, the property remained in the hands of the military.
When the United States gained possession of Florida in 1821, the old fort barracks was set aside for a post cemetery. According to historical records, the first interment took place in 1828. Most early burials were soldiers who died during the “Indian War,” either in battle or due to sickness and disease—not uncommon in Florida’s subtropical climate. The native Seminoles resisted the U.S. government’s attempts to forcibly remove them from their territory and seven years of fighting ensued.
On Dec. 23, 1835, Maj. Francis L. Dade and his company were ordered to reinforce Gen. Wiley Thompson’s troops stationed at Fort King, Ocala. During the trek from Tampa to Fort King, Dade became lost and announced to his men that they had successfully passed through Seminole-controlled territory. As a result, he failed to take appropriate precautions. The heavy winter garments of the soldiers covered their weapons, so that when the Seminoles staged an attack, Dade’s troops were virtually wiped out—only one soldier purportedly survived. A few months later, when travel in the area was again possible, the massacred soldiers were buried at the site.
In 1842 when hostilities ceased, the Army proposed to transfer the remains of all who died in the territory, including those who fell with Dade, to a single burial ground. Reinterment took place at the St. Augustine Post Cemetery. In addition to Dade’s command, more than 1,400 soldiers were interred in three collective graves. Three distinctive pyramids constructed of native coquina stone were erected in their memory, as well as several nearby plain white markers to designate the graves of Seminole Indian scouts.
When Florida became the 27th state in the Union in 1845, the city was already developing as a winter resort, offering a warm climate that attracted northern visitors. Florida seceded from the Union in 1861 and Confederate troops raised the fourth flag to fly over the city; sentiment in St. Augustine was about equally divided between the North and the South. The Confederate army appropriated Fort Marion and St. Francis Barracks.
The city suffered greatly under federal blockades, and in March 1862 when a Union gunboat entered St. Augustine harbor, the mayor quickly surrendered. It was again a permanent part of the Union. Two decades after the Civil War, St. Augustine again flourished and the commander of St. Francis Barracks recognized the need to assure the proper care and respectful treatment of the old post cemetery. That same year, Quartermaster Gen. Montgomery Meigs proposed that “As Florida is now a resort of many thousands of citizens with their families in search of benefit from its mild winter climate, it will only be becoming to put this cemetery, too long neglected and falling lately into decay, into as good condition as the other national cemeteries.” The adjutant general concurred, and the post burial grounds were declared a national cemetery.
Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.
Experience the thrill of adventure while you explore more than 800 exhibits at the Original Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in historic St. Augustine, Florida. You’ll laugh one moment and gasp the next! You will be amazed and wonder why … is it real or is it a fake? See the unusual, the unorthodox, and the exotic, collected from the far corners of the world.
Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida’s oldest zoological attractions. For over a century, it has entertained millions of visitors, lured by the awesome presence of captive reptiles, long regarded in the popular imagination as at once mysterious, dangerous and frightening. A true piece of Floridana, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm has inspired popularization of the alligator in the national consciousness and helped to fashion an image for the state.
In recognition of the unique historical contributions which the Alligator Farm has made to the visitor industry in Florida and St. Augustine, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the story of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s origins and its role of educating and entertaining visitors to Florida and St. Augustine.
A different and exciting way to experience historic St. Augustine, the Ghost Augustine Haunted Pub Tour takes you on a storytelling excursion through the most bewitching downtown destinations with stops at several local pubs where some of the guests just won’t go away.
Your seasoned storyteller and guide will show you some particularly haunted spots around downtown. The main focus of the tour is on the historic pubs where you’ll take about 30 minutes respites while listening to stories, spooky or funny, but always true, about the spirits that haunt these “watering holes”.
Visitors on the tour have had many encounters with the paranormal and gotten photographs of mysterious light formations. Experts say that ghosts like to gather near human visitors, and that you get the best photographic results if you ask the ghost nicely before you shoot, no kidding! The personnel of each pub keep our guide updated of the latest ghost activity. You will have time to get to know the tour guide and your fellow tour goers and to digest the stories along with a drink or two. So, if you like to have fun and aren’t too afraid of the dark, come learn the shadier side of St. Augustine’s history on the GhoSt Augustine Haunted Pub Tour.
The tour goes out regardless of the weather, so please dress accordingly.
**A note to non-drinkers, those under 21 years of age and designated drivers: You will have a perfectly spirited evening and enjoy the tour just as much as those consuming alcoholic drinks! Drinking alcoholic drinks is not what the tour is about, however the tour offers the possibility to do so for those age 21 and older. WE do not encourage drinking alcohol and it is your choice if you do. If you do choose to drink, please do so responsibly and do not drink and drive.
Tickets are $16 for adults and children ages 6-16 tickets are $8.
Located near the City Gates, The Old School House is a surviving expression of another time. Built over 200 years ago, while Florida was under the rule of Imperial Spain, it was constructed of red cedar and cypress and put together with wooden pegs and handmade nails.
The schoolmaster and his wife lived upstairs, above the small classroom. Their kitchen was separated from the main building, because of the threat of fire and to spare the house of any excess heat during the long summers. Several of the cooking utensils used in those days are displayed here for the visitor. In the schoolhouse, related artifacts and copies of the books the pupils studied from are exhibited.
Sightseeing in St. Augustine is fun and easy if you know where to look. Tours of the Nation’s Oldest City are available in all forms of transportation from guided walking tours to romantic carriage rides and everything in between. Follow the links below to find some unique ways to get around town while taking in all of the hottest attractions and most fascinating historic sites. St. Augustine sightseeing through our recommended links will provide some of your best photo opportunities and most cherished vacation memories. Let someone else lead you through the oldest city to ensure that you won’t miss a thing!
Explore St. Augustine as the settlers did via horse-drawn carriage.
Something that many repeat tourists to St. Augustine will tell you is that you must go on a carriage ride at least once. A narrated tour in a horse drawn carriage can be an idyllic romantic activity or a memorable family event. Many of the carriages are able to accommodate up to twelve comfortably.
All aboard! Cruise through the Nation’s Oldest City on a trolley train.
The sightseeing train tours are not only the best way to learn the history of the town in relation to all of the historic sites in less than two hours, but are also a practical way to get around town if you are staying in the historic downtown area. While wearing the sticker, you can get on and off the train all day, making sure to see all the sights before hopping back on to take the train to the stop nearest your hotel or charming bed and breakfast.
Sail away on a special St. Augustine cruise.
Visit the city marina for group and private water tours via sailboats, kayaks, speed boats, pirate ships or multi-deck ferries. See the sights of St. Augustine in the glow of an afternoon sunset or watch dolphins race the ship’s bow into the St. Augustine inlet.
Take to the skies and see all of the Oldest City from the air!
Breathtaking helicopter tours feature events such as the Nights of Lights, but are also just as gorgeous on a clear day. Get a bird’s eye view of downtown St. Augustine and the 24 miles of beaches stretching from the Castillo de San Marcos to Fort Matanzas. The clear air of Northeast Florida is always a welcoming atmosphere for aviators, and there are definitely plenty of sights to see below, both natural and historic.
Get up and close and personal with a guided walking tour of St. Augustine.
Creeping through the dark, narrow alleys of St. Augustine on a guided ghost tour is an experience that can’t be missed. The history of St. Augustine is better learned through interaction with a knowledgeable guide than through gleaning it from the signs around town. Walking tours allow you to get the closest view of St. Augustine’s detailed architecture, but watch out for ghosts lurking around the corners!
– See more at: http://www.oldcity.com/sightseeing.php#sthash.g0LeWYoz.dpuf
The Nao Victoria is a replica of the first ship to sail around the world. In 1522, it was the only member of Ferdinand Magellan’s five-ship fleet to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe. El Galeón, the larger of the two ships is an exact replica of the famous galleons that played such an important role in the creation and maintenance of the Spanish Empire. It is similar to the galleon that brought Pedro Menendez to Florida where he founded St. Augustine in 1565. The Nao Victoria will be in port through February 8. Through July 15, El Galeón will be docked at the marina. The ships are available for tours beginning at 10 a.m. daily. Admission to the Nao Victoria is $10 for adults; $5 for youth. Admission to El Galeón is $15 for adults; $8 for youth, for both ships, admission is $20 for adults; $10 for youth. 111 Avenida Menendez 904-824-1606 www.staugustine-450.com
First Friday Art Walk – From 5 – 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, new exhibits, music, entertainment and refreshments are featured at more than 20 participating galleries in St. Augustine. Tours begin at San Sebastian Winery. Complimentary shuttle service to most galleries is provided by St. Augustine Sightseeing Trains and Old Town Trolleys. 157 King St., St. Augustine. 904-829-0065 www.artgalleriesofstaugustine.com.
A St Augustine monument not only of stone and mortar but of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos symbolizes the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. Still resonant with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America’s grim but remarkable history.
Though its construction started in 1672 the Castillo de San Marcos’ history embodies the struggle and contest of the entire colonial era as well as the foundations of American identity.
Architecture & Construction
The Monument site consists of 20.5 acres and includes a reconstructed section of the walled defense line surrounding the city of St. Augustine incorporating the original city gates. The Castillo de San Marcos’ architecture and detail are distinctive and unique. It is the oldest masonry and only extant 17th century fort in North America. As such it is an excellent example of the “bastion system” of fortification.
Arms & Armament
The 16th century colonization of American paralleled the development of new weaponry. This technology centered on black powder (gunpowder) based systems. The cannon, first made of iron, later of bronze, became the weapon of political power projection and along with small arms of various types began to dominate the battlefields of both Europe and the New World.
How We Tell Our Story…
… we re-live it. The Castillo comes alive through a diverse range of programs which include Ranger talks, museum exhibits, historical weapons demonstrations, living history reenactments, and special events. Don’t miss your best chance to see history in action. No time machine necessary.
Operating Hours & Seasons
The Castillo de San Marcos is open to the public from 8:45 AM to 5:15 pm every day of the year except December 25. (The ticket booth closes at 4:45 pm.) The Park grounds are closed from midnight until 5:30 am.
Visitation is lowest from the middle of September through late November.
Step back in time at this re-creation of the Change of Flags ceremony that formally transferred Florida from Spanish to English rule at the end of the French and Indian Wars. Re-enactors dressed in both British and Spanish uniforms of the period will recreate the formal ceremony. Presentations and demonstrations of period military equipment and arms, and the 18th century soldier’s experience will be involved.
Location: Castillo de San Marcos
Directions: Located on St. Augustine Bayfront
Hours: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Admission: $7 for adults and free to children 15 and under. If you have a National Parks pass, you and three other guests will get into the Fort for free.
Sit back as our talented Old Town Trolley conductors share the history, attractions and sights of America’s oldest city. Founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, St. Augustine is a unique city filled with colonial Spanish neighborhoods, magnificent buildings and a charm all its own. The one hour tour features 20 stops and over 100 points of interest.
A 3 Day Pass*
Unlimited use of the Old Town Trolley and St Augustine Beach Bus.
Free admission to the Florida Heritage Museum.
“On and Off*” privileges at all conveniently located stops.
A 100% Money Back Guarantee!!!
See and Visit…
Fountain of Youth, Lightner Museum, Castillo de San Marcos, Ripley’s “Believe it or Not”, Flagler College, St. George Street, St Augustine’s Oldest House, the Old Jail, Florida Heritage Museum and much more!
Tour at your own pace! Old Town Trolley Tours allows you to get off at any of our convenient stops situated close to all popular attractions, shops and restaurants. When you’re ready, just re-board and it’s on with the tour.
Additionally, the Old Town Trolley pass is good for admission to the Florida Heritage Museum and the St. Augustine Beach Bus with hourly shuttle service to St. Augustine Beach, Anastasia Island, and Downtown St. Augustine.
Best of all…
your Old Town Trolley pass is good for 3 days* of unlimited use.
The Spanish Watchtower
The port of St. Augustine has always been a challenge for mariners. The conditions of the weather, water, and land are a hazard for citizens and marauders alike. After Pedro Menendez founded St. Augustine in 1565, he decided to build a wooden tower on the north end of Anastasia Island. The tower was to be manned by a single Spanish soldier to help identify incoming ships. Primarily a defensive measure for the settlement, the tower also served as a landmark for sailors attempting to locate the town from sea, amid the wilderness. The watchtower was meant to aid ships to the location of the port but it also showed the way for Sir Frances Drake in May of 1586. Drake, an English privateer, pillaged and burned the city and the tower.
The Coquina Lighthouse
In 1683, the Spanish government replaced the wooden tower with a structure made of coquina stone. The new structure was a complex that included a watchtower, guardhouse, well, and an ammunition storage house, all surrounded by a high coquina wall. With each succession of national ownership, the complex was refurbished and enlarged, attesting to its strategic importance for the safety of the town it guarded. The towerís importance as an aid to navigation certainly increased over time as the harbor became a trade destination.
Within six months of Florida becoming a United States territory in 1821, the Territorial Council forwarded a request to President Monroe for lighthouses to be built at Pensacola and St. Augustine. As a result, the Spanish coquina guardhouse/watchtower was converted to a true lighthouse. On April 5, 1824, Juan Andreu was named the first lightkeeper of the first lighthouse in the State of Florida. Ten big oil lamps in front of mirrors produced the light.
In 1855, Joseph Andreu, cousin of Juan Andreu, had to learn how to use the new lard oil lamp and a new fourth-order Fresnel lens. In 1859, Joseph Andreu fell to his death while painting the tower. His wife, Maria de los Dolores Mestre, took over and became the first female lightkeeper in St Augustine. Some claim that the ghost of Joseph Andreu still inhabits the new lighthouse.
During the Civil War, Florida joined the Confederacy and the flame was extinguished in 1862 by Captain George Gibbs to prevent Union attack by sea. Paul Arnau, collector of customs in Saint Augustine, removed and buried the lens. It was eventually recovered, but the light was not relit until 1867.
The New Brick Lighthouse
By 1870, it was evident that the sea was encroaching upon the coquina lighthouse and it was in danger of collapse. Authorities acquired five additional acres of land west of the old tower and construction began in 1871. The new lighthouse was built of brick on a concrete foundation. 1 St. Augustine, Currituck, and Bodie Island lights are the same lighthouse design except for the paint schemes. Paul J. Peltz was the Chief draftsman for the Lighthouse Board. He later designed the Library of Congress. The first order Fresnel lens was first lit on October 15, 1874 and the fourth order lens was decommissioned. 2 Four years later the old coquina keeper’s house fell into the ocean. The tower collapsed in a storm two years later.
In 1885, the Lighthouse changed the lamp fuel to kerosene. The kerosene lamp contained five concentric wicks. In 1909, a kerosene incandescent oil-vapor lamp was installed. This lamp used a single mantle. In 1936, the St. Augustine light became the last Florida lighthouse to get electricity. Since there was no oil to carry or soot to clean off the lens the number of keepers was reduced to two.
In 1939, the U. S. Lighthouse Service was abolished and its duties were transferred to the United States Coast Guard. In 1955, the light was automated. A photocell gauges sunlight intensity and turns the light bulb inside the Fresnel lens on and off. On-site keepers were no longer needed. Lamplighters, Coast Guard employees living off-site, regularly checked on the light. Since automation, the lens rotates continuously. This prevents flat spots from developing on the bronze carriage wheels from the weight of the lens. The movement also breaks up the sunís rays during the day.
The Junior Service League of Saint Augustine for 11 years had labored to breathe life back into the keeper’s house and secure the future of the tower.
Open Daily at 9:00 AM
It is recommended that you allow at least one hour to tour the site and climb the tower. The last ticket to climb the tower is sold at 5:45 pm. The site closes at 6:00 pm. During July and many holidays we are open until 7:00 pm, with the last ticket being sold at 6:45 pm. The Lighthouse is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 24th and December 25th.
During inclement weather, the observation deck and /or tower may be closed for your safety. If the weather looks threatening, please call us at 904-829-0745 to check the tower’s status.
It’s the one word that first-time visitors most often use to describe our campus. From a dining hall with million-dollar Tiffany windows to dorm rooms that once hosted celebrity guests such as John Jacob Astor and Gary Cooper, and Presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, you’ll find that living on the Flagler campus is an experience in itself. Schedule a visit to this campus, or take a virtual tour. Once you fall in love with its old-world charm and character, you’ll find yourself eager to send a digital postcard to your family and friends, to show them where you may spend your next few years.
Explore the past.
The centerpiece of the Flagler campus is the historic Ponce de Leon Hall. Built by acclaimed craftsmen, artists, and engineers such as interior decorator Louis Comfort Tiffany, the muralist George Maynard, and Thomas Edison, this building was born as the Hotel Ponce de Leon—among the most luxurious hotels of its time. Looking for some more old-world charm? Eight of the 15 buildings on our main campus are historic structures that have been lovingly restored by Flagler College.
Prepare for the future.
In addition to one of the most historic campuses in the nation, Flagler College also offers all the state-of-the-art facilities of a high-quality, forward-thinking college. As a Flagler student, you will enjoy access to well-maintained computer labs, wired residence halls, an 800-seat auditorium, the technologically-advanced Proctor Library, a 19-acre athletic field, and more. In fact, the College has invested more than $20 million in recent additions to the campus—with our very latest project being the construction of a brand new Student Center.
The Guana River State Park is one of St. Augustine’s hidden treasures. A pristine beach, abundant nature, and great facilities make this preserve the perfect retreat for a day of nature and relaxation.
The Environmental Education Center (EEC) is open daily 9am – 4pm with the exception of State holidays. Admission to the Environmental Education Center is $2 for adults, $1 for children aged ten to 17 and free for children under ten. (GTM Research Reserve annual pass holders get in free!) In the Center we have a variety of exhibits for you to view and a scavenger hunts for the kids (and adults) to complete. There is also a 15 minute introductory video that plays in the AV room all day. Located at 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Off A1A 8 miles north of Vilano Beach/St. Augustine or 17 miles south of J.T.Butler Blvd. Jacksonville Beach. Call 904-823-4500 for a list of special events or visit www.gtmnerr.org
Recreational activities at GTM Research Reserve – Guana River are primarily based around the rich variety of natural resources found here and include hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking or canoeing, bird watching and much more. Hiking and biking are popular along the almost 10 miles of nature trails and old service roads that wind through the hammock, scrub and flatwoods in the interior portion of the GTM Research Reserve. Access to the trails is at the west end of the Guana River Dam. There are no overnight camping facilities or developed picnic areas. There are three beach parking lots on the west side of A1A. Park here and walk across A1A to the beach dune walkovers that will lead you to a beautiful coquina sand beach. There are no lifeguards at the Beach. The South beach parking lot is wheelchair accessible. Pets on a leash are allowed on the hiking trails only.
No pets allowed on the beach.
The beach access parking areas are open 8am until sunset. The GTM Guana River Trails are open for hiking and biking activities 8am until sunset. The GTM Guana River Dam Use Area is open for fishing 4am –11pm.
Schooner Freedom Cruise’s – “Freedom” is an authentic replica of a 19th century blockade runner. She is a 72′, double masted, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner. She was built in Norfolk, VA in 1982 by famed Naval architect Merritt Walters, the first of his many Rover schooners. The Freedom was the first sailing tour boat to be certified under the Coast Guard sub-chapter ‘T’ to carry passengers to hire. Freedom is frequently inspected by the USCG and carries all of the equipment necessary to ensure a safe and fun outing.
Kick back, relax and soak up the sun, or get salty by helping the crew to set sail! Bring a pair of binoculars and look for dolphins, manatees, and birds, or take the helm for an unforgettable sailing experience. Reservations are highly recommended.
Length of sail: 2 hours
Departure Time: 12:15 pm
View St. Augustine’s historic charms from a unique perspective. Watch the sun set behind our beautiful city, and then be dazzled by the beauty of the St. Augustine skyline outlined with moonlight. Music, wind in the sails, and the sunset-drenched landscape provide a perfect end to your day on the town or the perfect beginning to your night.
Length of sail: 2 hours
A popular saying in Florida is if you don’t like the weather, give it 10 minutes. Due to the rapid change in weather, forecasts are not always reliable; therefore, sail cancellations are not based solely on weather forecasts. The captain will usually not cancel a sail until very close to the sail time, or may choose to delay departure. Thunderstorms, heavy or steady rain, extreme cold, and/or wind in excess of 25 mph may cause a sail to cancel. Please feel free to call us if you have any concerns.
*Prices, amenities, and availability are subject to change without prior notice.
At the north end of St. George Street, less than five minutes’ walk from The Old Powder House Inn Bed and Breakfast, stand these ancient pillars once the only entrance to the enclosed city.
The gates, as we see them today, were built of stone, but the rest of the wall was of logs stood on end. On the outer side of this wall was a moat, or deep ditch filled with water, and the approach to the gates was over a drawbridge which was pulled up at night. An additional line of defense, consisting of a breast-works of earth, having on its summit several rows of Spanish bayonets, planted so closely as to be almost impenetrable, extended from the northern wall south on what is now the line of Cordova Street to a point almost abreast the St. Francis barracks, from where it ran and joined the Matanzas Inlet.
An 1870 description by one-time slave Jack Smith adds to the likelihood that this was indeed the Powder House. Smith described it as having two rooms. “The easternmost was with a window on the north, and another on the south side; on the front, with a window on each side, was an old double door turning on several pairs of staples. It had evidently not all been built at once and may have gone from a powder house to a dwelling….Three years ago (1867) it was torn down, the stone beaten up and the shell thrown into a walk.”
Thereafter the property was referred to as “The Old Powder House Lot”. The present structure which houses our bed and breakfast was built in 1899. It still retains much of the original character of the Flagler era in its victorian architecture: high ceilings, verandas, and elaborate wood work.
Henry Morrison Flagler was born on January 2, 1830 in Hopewell, NY to Reverend Isaac and Elizabeth Caldwell Harkness Flagler. At the age of 14, after completing the eighth grade in 1844, Flagler decided to move to Bellevue, Ohio where he found work in the grain store of L.G. Harkness and Company at a salary of $5 per month plus room and board. By 1849, Flagler was promoted to sales staff of the company at a salary of $400 per month.
Flagler became a partner in the newly organized D. M. Harkness and Company with his half-brother, Dan Harkness in 1852. The following year, on November 9, he married Mary Harkness. On March 18, 1855, their first child, Jennie Louise, was born. Jennie Louise lived until 1889, when at the age of 34, she died following complications from child birth. A second child, Carrie, was born on June 18, 1858. She died three years later. On December 2, 1870, the Flaglers’ only son, Harry Harkness Flagler, was born.
Flagler founded the Flagler and York Salt Company, a salt mining and production business in Saginaw, Michigan in 1862 with his brother-in-law Barney York. By 1865, the end of the Civil War caused a drop in the demand for salt and the Flagler and York Salt Company collapsed. Heavily in debt, Flagler returned to Bellevue, Ohio. He had lost his initial $50,000 investment and an additional $50,000 he had borrowed from his father-in-law and Dan Harkness.
The next year Flagler reentered the grain business as a commission merchant. Flagler had become acquainted with John D. Rockefeller, who worked as a commission agent with Hewitt and Tuttle for the Harkness Grain Company. By the mid 1860s,Cleveland had become the center of the oil refining industry in America and Rockefeller left the grain business to start his own oil refinery. In 1867, Rockefeller, needing capital for his new venture, approached Flagler. Flagler obtained $100,000 from a relative on the condition that Flagler be made a partner. A Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler partnership was formed with Flagler in control of Harkness’ interest.
On January 10, 1870, the Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler partnership emerged as a joint-stock corporation named Standard Oil and by 1872, Standard Oil led the American oil refining industry, producing 10,000 barrels per day. Five years later Standard Oil moved its headquarters to New York City, and the Flaglers moved to their new home at 509 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
By 1878, Flagler’s wife, who had always struggled with health problems, was very ill. On advice from Mary’s physician, she and Flagler visited Jacksonville, Florida for the winter. Mary’s illness grew worse, however, and she died on May 18, 1881 at age 47. Two years after Mary’s death, Flagler married Ida Alice Shourds. Soon after their wedding, the couple traveled to St. Augustine, Florida where they found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. Flagler recognized Florida’s potential to attract out-of-state visitors. Though Flagler remained on the Board of Directors of Standard Oil, he gave up his day-to-day involvement in the corporation in order to pursue his interests in Florida. He returned to St. Augustine in 1885 and began construction on the 540-room Hotel Ponce de Leon. Realizing the need for a sound transportation system to support his hotel ventures, Flagler purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad, the first railroad in what would eventually become the Florida East Coast Railway.
The Hotel Ponce de Leon opened January 10, 1888 and was an instant success. Two years later, Flagler expanded his Florida holdings. He built a railroad bridge across the St. Johns River to gain access to the southern half of the state and purchased the Hotel Ormond, just north of Daytona. His personal dedication to the state of Florida was demonstrated when he began construction on his private residence, Kirkside, in St. Augustine.
Flagler’s railroad, renamed the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895, reached Biscayne Bay by 1896.Flagler dredged a channel, built streets, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the town’s first newspaper, the Metropolis. When the town incorporated in 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for its growth by naming it “Flagler.” He declined the honor, persuading them to use an old Indian name, “Miami.” In 1897, Flagler opened the exclusive Royal Palm Hotel in Miami.
Flagler’s second wife, Ida Alice, had been institutionalized for mental illness since 1895. In 1901, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that made incurable insanity grounds for divorce, opening the way for Flagler to remarry. That bill was in effect for ONE DAY and on that day Flagler got his divorce. The next day the bill was revoked. On August 24, 1901, Flagler married Mary Lily Kenan and the couple soon moved into their Palm Beach estate, Whitehall.
By 1905, Flagler decided that his Florida East Coast Railway should be extended from Biscayne Bay to Key West, a point 128 miles past the end of the Florida peninsula. At the time, Key West was Florida’s most populated city and it was also the United States’ closest deep water port to the canal that the U.S. government proposed to build in Panama. Flagler wanted to take advantage of additional trade with Cuba and Latin America as well as the increased trade with the west that the Panama Canal would bring. In 1912, the Florida Over-Sea Railroad was completed to Key West.
In 1913, Flagler fell down a flight of stairs at Whitehall. He never recovered from the fall and died of his injuries on May 20 at 83 years of age. He was buried in St. Augustine alongside his daughter, Jennie Louise and first wife, Mary Harkness.
The old Ponce De Leon Hotel in St. Augustine is now the site of Flagler College. The structure has been beautifully restored and tours are run daily at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
The Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River provide the natural boundaries for the 410 acres of coastal scenery that comprise Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.
Ocean waves have washed away the sand, exposing coquina rock and creating a picturesque boulder-strewn beach. At low tide, many shore birds feed and rest around the peaceful tidal pools. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, fishing and walking through the ornamental gardens and along the river.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park provides trails for both hiking and biking. The Bella Vista trails, include the Timucuan hiking trail, Jungle Road hike and bike trail and the Old A-1-A hike and bike trail. This 1.7 mile trail system explores a mature coastal maritime hammock and ventures into the edge of a dense canopied coastal scrub.
The Mala Compra hiking loop is a one half (1/2 mile) loop that explores the ecotone between the coastal maritime hammock and the estuarine tidal marsh along the Matanzas River.
The hiking trails at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park were developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Florida Trail Association.
The Mission of Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menendez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin the work at America’s first Mission. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present.
Since 1993, the University of Florida has made significant strides in unearthing some of the most important findings in St. Augustine’s history. This work, conducted on the Mission grounds, has led to evidence of one of the earliest, if not the earliest, Spanish fortifications in Florida.
The following text, prepared by Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History and Archaeology as well as professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, appears on a sign located between the Mission chapel and the Rustic Altar:
A collaborative project of the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Florida Department of State, the National Geographic Society, and the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine.
On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menedez de Aviles of Spain landed near here and claimed Florida for the Spanish Crown. He built the first Spanish fort in Florida by fortifying the Chief’s house at the nearby Timucua Indian town of Seloy.
Archaeologists from the University of Florida have recently discovered the moat from a sixteenth-century Spanish fort believed to be that of Menendez on the grounds of the Nuestra Senora de la Leche Shrine (Mission of Nombre de Dios). Excavations are underway to uncover it and study the remains of some of the earliest European presence in what is now the United States.
Step back in time to 1740’s Spanish St. Augustine
As you stroll through this garrison town, leave today’s world behind and discover life in another time. Visit with the blacksmith, carpenter, or soldier’s wife as they go about their daily activities. Located at 29 St. George St., you’ll see costumed historical interpreters tell the story of everyday life in 1740’s St. Augustine when the city was a remote outpost of the Spanish Empire.
Discover St. Augustine’s best kept secret and only living history museum! The museum is open daily and tours are self-guided.
Guided tours are only available for student or adult groups of ten or more people. These tours are available by advance reservation only.
Adult – $6.95
Student (age 6-17) – $4.25
Family (2 adults and their related children
ages 6-17 living in the same household) – $16.95
Senior (age 62 and over) – $5.95
Military – Free with ID
St. Johns County Resident – Free with ID
San Sebastian Winery, founded in 1996 is located at 157 King Street, Saint Augustine, Florida in one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings located just a few blocks from historic downtown. According to historians, this area is the birthplace of American wine, dating back to 1562.
Today, San Sebastian ranks as one of Florida’s premium wineries, and remains a pioneer in the development of table, sparkling and dessert wines from hybrid and muscadine grapes. Vintage-dated varietals from hybrids such as Stover and Blanc Du Bois are produced and marketed along with blended and sparkling wines from native Muscadine grapes. Port and Cream Sherry dessert wines are also produced by and sold under the San Sebastian brand. Together, these labels have won many awards for excellence in winemaking, over 300 so far with more to come each season. Every year more than 100,000 people are expected to visit the winery’s extensive tasting room and wine shop. San Sebastian Winery has an overall production of over 80,000 cases, (that’s over 960,000 bottles!). San Sebastian wines are sold at the winery and at major supermarkets and wine shops throughout Florida.
Complimentary Winery tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week; Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6p.m. and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 6 p.m.
“The Cellar Upstairs” Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar
“The Cellar Upstairs” Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar is located on the rooftop of the Winery building and is a best kept secret with locals. Open on weekends, featuring incredible live music from a wide range of talented local and regional Bands. Relax to the music and enjoy the tremendous views overlooking the St. Augustine skyline while enjoying a glass of San Sebastian Wine and light appetizers.
Enjoy wandering through the museum’s setting — the former Hotel Alcazar, built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance style. Railroad magnate Henry M. Flagler commissioned architects Carrere and Hastings to design the Alcazar and the Ponce de Leon Hotel (across the street). The two young architects later designed the New York Public Library and the U.S. Senate office building. After years of accommodating vacationing wealthy patrons, the elegant resort hotel closed.
Chicago publisher, Otto C. Lightner, purchased the building to house his extensive collection of Victoriana in 1946 and opened the museum two years later.
He gave the museum to the city of St. Augustine. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Relics of America’s Gilded Age are elegantly exhibited on the museum’s three floors. Costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and other artifacts give you a glimpse into 19th century daily life. The Lightner collection includes beautiful examples of cut glass, Victorian art glass and the stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Lightner Museum is located in historic downtown St. Augustine, Florida. The museum is handicapped and wheelchair accessible.
Include in your visit lunch at the Café Alcazar directly behind the museum in the former hotel indoor swimming pool.
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., daily
Last Admission: 4:00 p.m.
(closed Christmas Day)
Tuesday – Saturday
Active military with I.D.:$6.00
College student with I.D.:$5.00
Young people: 12-18: $5.00
Children Under 12 (with adult): Free
St. Augustine’s Old Jail offers a compelling look at the cell blocks, gallows and sheriff’s quarters. Built in 1891, the jail held prisoners for over 60 years. Your guided tour led by the jailers includes a close-up view of the men’s and women’s cells, maximum security, as well as a collection of weapons. See where the sheriff and his wife and children lived right upstairs from the prisoners and used their own kitchen to prepare meals for the inmates. The Old Jail deputies will entertain you with tales of justice and punishment when Florida was America’s southernmost frontier. You might even meet America’s most feared sheriff, Joe Perry. It’s a fun and historic outing for adults and children.
Concerts in the Plaza – Reminiscent of days gone by when friends and families would gather in the early evening to listen to music in the town square, Concerts in the Plaza brings a wide variety of musical entertainment to St. Augustine’s historic downtown all summer long. Bluegrass and blues, jazz and country, swing and folk, old time and popular rock: Concerts in the Plaza has something for everyone.
Now in its 21st year, Concerts in the Plaza has become known as The best way to spend a Thursday night in St. Augustine, and it’s easy to understand why when you’re sitting under the majestic oaks of the oldest town square in the nation while enjoying quality musical entertainment against a backdrop of the rich historic ambiance of The Nation’s Oldest City.
The concert season started with an afternoon performance on Memorial Day and continues all summer long on Thursdays at 7:00pm and then concludes, as does summer, on Labor Day with another afternoon performance.
All the concerts are free and attendees should bring lounge chairs for seating. Picnic dinners are popular, but alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Plaza.
Concerts in the Plaza prides itself on providing a wide variety of entertainment by showcasing the best in regional musical talent. For many of the series’ most faithful followers, a highlight of the weekly concerts is the chance to becomes reacquainted with some of favorite performers. Some bands have been playing the series season after season while others have joined the roster in more recent years guaranteeing a wide variety of entertainment all summer long.
Location and Parking
A gathering place for the people of St. Augustine for well over four centuries, the Plaza de la Constitución is located in the heart of St. Augustine between Cathedral Place and King Street, just to the west of the Bridge of Lions. The band performs from The Gazebo, a fixture in the center of the Plaza since early in the 20th Century. There is no permanent seating in the Plaza so attendees should bring lounge chairs. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the plaza de la Constitución.
Besides their nostalgic frames and their congregations’ belief in God, many of the oldest churches in St. Augustine share a common element — Henry Flagler.
To name a few, Flagler had a hand in the construction of Grace United Methodist Church, Memorial Presbyterian Church and the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine.
One church Flagler didn’t have a hand in, though, was St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church. But St. Paul’s claims its own historical figure: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
”St. Paul’s is the only church in the state of Florida where Martin Luther King stood at the stand and preached and led a demonstration,” said the church’s pastor, James Blount.
In the mid-’60s, St. Augustine saw serious racial problems. After King’s speech at the church, Blount said, people started to mobilize and lead marches and boycotts.
Having been the original St. Francis House in the mid-’80s, St. Paul’s is the largest black church in St. Johns County and is 127 years old. It is located at 85 M.L. King Ave.
Long before St. Paul’s was built, however, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine stood high in the air at 38 Cathedral Place.
On Sept. 8, 1565, Spaniard Pedro Menendez and his men celebrated the first mass in St. Augustine.
Parts of the church building were destroyed a couple of times — once during Queen Anne’s War and another time when a fire damaged the structure. At one point, Henry Flagler provided financial assistance in rebuilding the church.
Flagler was also instrumental in helping rebuild Grace United Methodist Church, which originally sat on the corner of King and Cordova streets, where the Alcazar Hotel was built and the Lightner Museum now stands.
With a congregation over 100 years old, the new church was constructed at 8 Carrera St. in the late 1880s, sporting Spanish Renaissance style architecture and coquina. The Old Powder House Inn Bed and Breakfast is right next to the church on Cordova Street in St. Augustine.
Grace Methodist Church
Cooke said the church also hosted Florida’s first ordained Methodist woman, Wilma Davis, who served as an assistant pastor, living to be 102 years old before dying in 1992.
While the Methodists had their first ordained woman in the state, the Presbyterians had their first parish in Florida in 1824, when Memorial Presbyterian Church was built.
The church was unique also because of its Venetian Renaissance style architecture.
”This is the only Venetian-Renaissance style church in the United States,” said Jim Marth, business administrator at the church.
When the church was first built over 100 years ago on St. George Street, it was called First Presbyterian Church, and was dedicated in memory of Henry Flagler’s daughter, who died about a year before the church was built in 1890.
Now located at 36 Sevilla St., the church received another gift from Flagler in 1902: stained-glass windows that tell the Apostles’ Creed.