Ximenez-Fatio House - Letter April 6, 1987 & Magazine Article February 1987 (11 pages)

Ximenez-Fatio House - Letter April 6, 1987 & Magazine Article February 1987 (11 pages)


Material Information

Ximenez-Fatio House - Letter April 6, 1987 & Magazine Article February 1987 (11 pages)
Series Title:
Herschel Shepard Project Files
Physical Description:
Shepard, Herschel ( donor )
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Folder: 7303 Ximenez-Fatio House


Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- St. Johns -- St. Augustine

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:

Full Text


April 6, 1987

Mr. Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
2111 Corporate Square Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32216

Dear Herschel:

At long last our Ximenez-Fatio House has "made the big
time!" The February 1987 issue of ANTIQUES Magazine published a
six page article by William Seale with beautiful photographs by
Eric Kvalsvik, and a full page photograph was used as the
frontispiece. We are overjoyed at this lovely presentation of
our house.

We want to share this delightful article with you and say
thank you again for your interest and assistance in making the
Fatio House one of the finest historic houses in the country.

Best regards,

Norma Lockwood (Mrs. William G., Jr.)

Becky Roers (Mrs. John H.)



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In the beginning all the World was America.
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 1690

JOHN LOCKE, the first modern philosopher to discover
the New World, intended a metaphor for that idyllic
state of nature in which mankind lived before the
establishment of civil society and the rise of rapa-
cious and rebellious men of wealth. But his metaphor
suggests something more: it implies the way America
was seen from Europe-as a fresh beginning, a break
with the accumulated evils of the past, an earthly
paradise to weary Europe, a belief in riches and per-
fection beyond the sunset.
The naked Indians, the aboriginal inhabitants of
this vast, underdeveloped continent, lived in some-
thing close to Locke's pastoral state of nature. In a
letter of 1504 Amerigo Vespucci wrote that the Indi-
ans "have neither king nor lord, nor do they obey
anyone, but live in freedom.... They do not bring
men to justice, nor punish a criminal... nor ... chas-
tise their children." They eat whenever they feel like
it and they "speak little, and in a low voice." He con-
cluded, "We did not find that these people had any
laws." Their habitations were in common, they were
cleanly, shameless, cared nothing for riches, neither
bought nor sold, and were content with what nature
had given them.
Locke's interest in the New World extended beyond
philosophical discussion; his imagination was excited
by the poorly mapped and little-known places across
the Atlantic. He read books of travel and exploration,
and through his patron Anthony Ashley Cooper, the
first earl of Shaftesbury, he was made secretary to
the lords proprietors of Carolina. Indeed, a signifi-
cant part of Locke's income was derived from his
work as a colonial civil servant and from his invest-
ments in the Colonies. A key point in Locke's argu-
ment was that "The Fruit or Venison, which nour-
ishes the wild Indian, who knows no Inclosure, and is
still a Tenant in common, must be his." The lands the
Amerindians hunted and farmed were not theirs, as
Locke's ancestral estates were his. "Weary of the his-
torical lumber room of old Europe," as Hegel wrote,
the white settlers who took possession of these new
lands escaped the feudalism and entrenched tradi-
tionalism of the old.

This may explain why America was born of a revolt
that was moderate in its means, yet so revolutionary
in its consequences; why we are a society so liberal in
our ideals, yet so conservative in our behavior. Here
that profound passion to uproot and destroy the so-
cial order was absent. The American Revolution was
thus more limited than most modern revolutions,
aiming at national independence rather than social
The tensions of opposing political factions, be-
tween the followers of Adams and Jefferson, vibrated
through the new republic following the framing of
the Constitution two hundred years ago. Yet in his
inaugural address Jefferson could proclaim with
confidence: "We are all republicans-we are all fed-
Few periods in our political history have been more
embittered than the age of Andrew Jackson, yet
Alexis de Tocqueville, viewing America in the very
flood tide of Jacksonian democracy from the per-
spective of France, felt that the differences between
the Jacksonians and the Whigs were trivial. "The
great advantage of the American," he wrote in De-
mocracy in America, "is that he has arrived at a state
of democracy without having to endure a democratic
revolution and that he is born free without having to
become so."
The concept that the New World was the peculiar
abode of felicity lingered in the European imagina-
tion. The aged Goethe declared in 1827, not long be-
fore his death, "Amerika, du hast es besser als unser
Kontinent, das alte" (America, you have it better than
our continent, the old one). When Goethe and like-
minded men sang America's praises, "you have it bet-
ter," they did not mean America had it perfect. The
challenge and the problems were enormous, but the
ambiance enjoyed by the American people held out
promises of success that may never again be offered
to any people. Perhaps, as Bismarck is reported to
have said, a special Providence takes care of fools,
drunks, and the United States of America. Surely, the
founders believed, and we their progeny have every
reason to believe still, the last of these.

\^nkl (qwiett-

Gallery of the Ximenez-Fatio House in Saint Augustine,
Florida. Photograph by Erik Kvalsvik.


History in houses

The Ximenez-Fatio House in Saint Augustine, Florida


P1. I. Miniature of Louisa Maria Philipa Fatio
(1797-1875), artist unknown, c. 1820. Watercolor on
paper, 4 by 3 inches. Collection of the National Society
of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida;
photographs are by Erik Kvalsvik.

THE XIMENEZ-FATIO House was built about 1798 by
Andres Ximenez, a rich Spanish citizen of Saint Au-
gustine, for use as a "grocery," or tavern, with two
warehouses in the rear. It is an ample, handsome
house built in the combined English and Spanish
style typical of Saint Augustine in the last quarter of
the eighteenth century. Set against ancient, narrow
Aviles Street, which has no sidewalk, its principal
rooms on the second floor are breeze-swept and dry,
while those on the ground floor show the effects of
the perpetually high humidity. Typical of old Saint
Augustine houses, the main entrance is through a
loggia in the rear (P1. III). Archaeology has revealed
that the old patio behind the house was of hard-
packed earth and was heavily shaded, no doubt by
the fruit trees, blooming shrubbery, and palms that
abounded in the city's dense and overgrown gardens.
The thick walls of the house are made of local co-
quina, sawed into blocks, and stuccoed, because this
stone made of shells and corals is highly porous. Like
most of its early neighbors the house is white; some of
the inner walls of the gallery showed traces of a pink-

ish wash, which has been restored. The eighteenth-
century kitchen (P1. IV), also built of coquina, is the
best surviving example in Saint Augustine of a
kitchen dating from the later years of Spanish occu-
When the National Society of the Colonial Dames of
America in the State of Florida purchased the house
in 1939 from an heir of Louisa Fatio, their interest
was naturally to re-create an eighteenth-century
Spanish flavor, paralleling the colonial epoch in the
eastern United States. Over the course of the next
thirty-odd years the Colonial Dames amassed a large
collection of Spanish antiques and reproductions for
the house. In the early 1970's, however, they became.
interested in the later history of the house, and were
surprised to discover that many alterations had been
made after Ximenez's occupancy. The house had

WILLIAM SEALE is a historian. His most recent book, The Presi-
dent's House: A History, was published last year.


Pl. II. Ximenez-Fatio
House, built for Andres
Ximenez, Aviles Street, Saint
Augustine, Florida, c. 1798.
The architecture is typical of
the grander houses in late
eighteenth-century Saint Au-
gustine. As Ximenez's home
and a public house, the resi-
dential quarters would have
been upstairs and public
rooms down; similarly,
when the house became a
hotel, the dining room and
other public rooms were on
the ground floor.

PI. III. Rear of the
Ximenez-Fatio House.
Guests entered the property
through the garden and the
house through the rear log-
gia, which contained the
stairs. The kitchen building,
on the right, is the earliest
and finest kitchen from the
Spanish period in Saint Au-
gustine. In the eighteenth
century, rear yards were
shaded by arbors and
heavily planted with trees.
There was no grass. Chick-
ens and other fowl roamed
about freely, and some of
the domestic endeavors of
the household were carried
out in the open air. To be re-
constructed in the future is
the old laundry, which was
behind the kitchen. Bathing
facilities may also have been
located in that area.


*- '**

P1. IV. The kitchen has re-
cently been restored to its
original late eighteenth-cen-
tury appearance. It is
shaded on two sides by
porches and on a third by a
woodshed. The oven is the
only survivor of its kind
from eighteenth-century
Saint Augustine. Cooking
was carried out in the open
fireplace during the earliest
days, but a stove was added
in the beginning of the nine-
teenth century; the stove-
pipe hole has been left to in-
dicate this modernization.
On the left is the zinc-lined
kitchen sink. The floors, of
soft coquina, were kept
sprinkled with sand.

P1. V. The hotel guests' sit-
ting room on the ground
floor adjoins the dining
room. The furniture is cov-
ered with linen slipcovers
that were used most of the
year in Saint Augustine,
where winter was brief. The
pattern of the floorcloth was
copied from one pictured at
the Fatio House in a nine-
teenth-century issue of
Harper's Weekly. A variety of
types of cloth window
coverings shade the room at
various times of the day; out-
side the windows are lou-
vered blinds. The door at the
right gives onto the deep
rear porches, while that on
the left affords a glimpse of
a guest room.


P1. VI. This soup tureen made by the Ridgway China Company, Staffordshire, England,
c. 1835 -1840, belonged to Sarah Petty Anderson, and may have been used in the Ximenez-Fatio
House when she owned it, from 1838 to 1855.

P1. VII. The dining room is located beneath the parlor shown in P1. VIII, its windows looking
onto Aviles Street. An assortment of mid-nineteenth-century chairs are pulled up to the table,
which is covered with a damask cloth and a mixture of types of tableware, some of which
belonged to Sarah Petty Anderson. The punkahs are typical of the region, but were.not uncom-
mon in many other parts of the United States at the time. A mid-nineteenth-century inventory in
a nearby town calls them not punkahs but "fliterers" (inventory of Judge Isaac Bronson,
Palatka, Florida, August 15, 1856 [Putnam County Clerk's office, Palatka]). Beneath the wooden
floor is the original coquina pavement.

been "Americanized" with Greek revival millwork,
wood floors had been laid over the early coquina
ones, and the heavy beams had been concealed by
plaster ceilings. What remained was not pure to any
period, but a mixture of elements from many. More-
over, it became evident that written documentation
about the house and its environs was far richer for
the years after about 1830 than before. As the house
had been owned during the nineteenth century by a
succession of women who ran it as a hotel, the Dames
were able to develop this theme in refurbishing and
refurnishing the house to the mid-nineteenth cen-
tury. In taking a more historical approach they were
in the vanguard of a national movement toward a
sharper factual interpretation in house museums.
The little that is known about Ximenez's occu-
pancy of the house indicates that he kept it as a public
house, for he took out Spanish licenses to sell liquor,
operate a billiards hall, and conduct a gambling en-
terprise. The building was probably converted to a
hotel in the 1820's, when Florida became a United
States territory. Margaret Cook (1790-c. 1879), Eliza
C. Whitehurst (1786-1838), Sarah Petty Anderson
(1782-1869), and finally Louisa Maria Philipa Fatio
(P1. I) kept the business in operation for about fifty
years as one of the earliest and most popular seasonal
hotels in the city. Through one misfortune or an-
other, each had been thrown on hard times and had

turned to hotelkeeping as one of the few businesses in
which a gentlewoman could support herself and still
remain a "lady."
The hotel was in fact more like a boardinghouse in
which people from the Northeast spent the winter
season, often because they were ill. Saint Augustine
itself had become a successful tourist spot early in the
century. One visitor in 1824 praised the
mild tropical climate, so different from that in which I had
heretofore lived. The cool, refreshing daily sea [breeze] from
the Atlantic Ocean moderated the intense heat of the tropical
sun, while the night breeze across the peninsula from the
Gulf of Mexico kept the nights cool and pleasant, so that
though sleeping under musquito [sic] bars, a light blanket
was not oppressive. Then the delicious fruits of the tropics-
the oranges and figs so refreshing... and the variety and
abundance of the fine fish and game.'
The local newspapers were filled with news about
winter visitors, many of whom found Saint Augustine
delightfully foreign and came back year after year.
The Ximenez-Fatio House accommodated about
twenty-five guests; Ximenez's warehouses were con-
verted into guest rooms, each of which had a fire-
place and a built-in press with glass doors for storing
clothing (see P1. X). There were several indoor sitting
rooms (see Pls. V, VIII), and the long, deep, shady
gallery, well sheltered from the frequent rains, was
also furnished as a sitting room. On the ground floor


'' -,* #

Pl. VIII. Upstairs parlor. This large
room opens at the back onto the rear
loggia and at the front onto a balcony
that overhangs Aviles Street. It is as-
sumed that the various owners of the
hotel used this as their private living
room. It is furnished almost entirely
with objects used in Florida before the
Civil War. The astral lamp and the
horsehair-covered sofa against the
wall belonged to the Fatio family.

Pl. IX. The mahogany high-post bed
of c. 1840 in this bedroom has a his-
tory of use in Florida in the nineteenth
century. The inside of the tester is cov-
ered with wallpaper, and the mos-
quito netting is of linen. The cotton
coverlet, which descended in a family
in Lewes, Delaware, is decorated with
cutouts from Indian-inspired printed


P1. X. One of eight restored guest rooms in the wing of the Ximenez-Fatio House. Each of the
bedrooms opened onto the porch, had cross ventilation, a fireplace, and a press with glass doors
built into the chimney reveal. The furnishings in the re-created quarters are simple, in keeping
with an extensive survey of local inventories from the 1820's through the 1860's. Straw matting,
such as that shown here, was almost universally used year-round in Saint Augustine. The
original combination of off-white trim and whitewashed walls has been restored throughout the

was a large dining room (P1. VII), which written evi-
dence suggests was frequented not only by hotel
guests but by others as well, for Louisa Fatio main-
tained the best table in Saint Augustine for nearly
thirty years.
Of the hotel's hospitality a visitor wrote in 1853,
the hotels and boarding houses are all under the manage-
ment of southern individuals with "Northern principles" of
domestic economy.... I can speak of one of these establish-
ments kept by Miss Fatio, a most estimable and popular lady;
and if the others are as home-like and comfortable as this,
the ancient city may well be proud of her houses for the
accommodation of travelers and invalids.2

I am grateful to the following people for their help in pre-
paring this article: Robert Harper, Mrs. William G.
Lockwood Jr., Charles A. Phillips, Mrs. John H. Rogers,
Hershel Sheppard, and Dena Snodgrass. The Ximenez-Fatio
House is open to the public daily except Tuesdays and
Wednesday, from March 1 through August 31.

' "Memoir of a West Pointer in Saint Augustine: 1824-1826," ed. Cecil D.
Eby Jr., Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 152, no. 3 (April 1964), p. 311.
2 Charles Lanman, Adventures in the Wilds of the United States (London,
1856), vol. 1, pp. 116-117.



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