Ximenez-Fatio House - Letter May 4, 1994 & Research and the Interpretive Message (10 pages)


Material Information

Ximenez-Fatio House - Letter May 4, 1994 & Research and the Interpretive Message (10 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.
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Full Text



Mrs. Franklin H. Mikell
3200 Marye Street ,
Alexandria, LA 71301 /

Mrs. Bertrand W. McGinnis
Vice-Chairman. Region I
2372 Wood Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Mrs. Louis M. Benepe, III
Vice-Chairman, Region II
121 Eastbank Court N.
Hudson, WI 54016

Mrs. Melton E. Valentine, Jr.
Vice-Chairman, Region III
900 Marlowe Road
Raleigh, NC 27609

Mrs. Francis D. Williams, Jr.
Vice-Chairman, Region IV
24 Hampton Hills Lane
Richmond, VA 23226

Mrs. William B. Owens
2928 George's Lane
Alexandria, LA 71301

Miss Judith M. Perinchief
207 Carleton Lane
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Mrs. Millard Peabody

Mrs. Poyntell C. Staley
Archives-Visual Records

Mrs. D. Thomas Moody
Computer Programs

Mrs. William T. Utley

Mrs. A. Van Santvoord Olcott

Mrs. John G. Odom

Mrs. Stephen P. Dart
Support Groups

Mrs. E. Stewart Maunsell II
Mrs. Robert J. Epperson
Mrs. Hall A. Koontz

Hobart G. Cawood
President, Old Salem Inc.
Winston-Salem. NC

Jane Nylander
Director, SPNEA
Boston, MA

Calvin Smith
Director, Streckcr Museum
Waco, TX

May 4, 1994

Mr. Herschel E. Shepard, Jr. FAIA
Department of Architecture
231 Arch
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-2004

Dear Mr. Shepard,

Thank you for giving your time and knowledge to the
Colonial Dames National Museum Properties Workshop
in St. Augustine March 18th. I have just returned
from a similar workshop in Minneapolis/St. Paul
where some of the Florida workshop participants had
much praise for you and the other faculty.

As Norma Lockwood told you, we duplicate many of the
workshop lectures (the good ones) to share with
members who could not attend. Enclosed is an
unedited copy of your excellent lecture, on which I
have made a few typing corrections. Sometimes we
send the talks as they occurred, or sometimes the
speaker prefers to edit the paper or present it as
an essay. The choice is yours. Frankly, I think
yours is extremely good as is with the exception
of a blank space when the tape ran out (page 7.)

Please make any changes or corrections you desire,
and return it to me so that we can proceed with the
printing. If you think we could accomplish this on
the telephone, call me COLLECT (318) 443-1505. I
will have pen and paper ready to make your changes,
or leave your number on the machine and I will call
back. I hope to make this as easy as possible for

Again, many thanks and much appreciation for your


Minnie O. Mikell

Donald R. Taylor
Director Emeritus
Gunston Hall


Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.

It's my great privilege and pleasure to be here this morning. And
I am serving Ca little bit) in place of another speaker and I regret
that she couldn't be here because she's an expert researcher and
could give you a great deal of very valuable advice, which I
probably cannot. I thought this morning, before I begin my talk,
that I would respond to a question that came from the audience
about the ADA that Susan had eluded to.

If you have a historic property, and most of you that deal with
historic properties do have properties that are listed on the
national register, what you ought to do is to check with your state
historic preservation officer and see what type of easing of the
ADA requirements you may be able to negotiate through his office.
The ADA legislation is a very peculiar animal, as you know. It's
a national legislation and it's on the same scale really as civil
rights legislation and we are all exposed to suits that can be
brought by anyone in the public against us if we don't meet the ADA
requirements. This is a national bill and the effects of it are
really just absolutely amazing. The amount of work that it's
caused at state level, and I'm familiar with some of the things
that are going on in the state universities to solve ADA problems,
it's just remarkable and sometimes very troubling. In any event,
contact your state historic preservation officer to see if you can
get some relief from meeting those requirements. There are things
that are written into law that allow you to do that if you have a
nationally registered property.

Also, before I begin my talk, which is going to be a little more
philosophical than nuts and bolts this morning, I would like just
to tell you about some books that have been my Bibles in research
and interpretation for the last 30 years. One of them, the first
one that I will mention, is out of print, unfortunately, but you
can get it in most major libraries and most of you are probably
familiar with it. It's this book. It's called A Restoration
Manual, Owen Bullock. Excellent book. A little bit dated but not

The second text that I would like to mention to you is relatively
new, published by the American Institute of Architects Press. It's
called Recording Historic Structures. The author of this book is
John Burnes with the National Park Service. Excellent book. I
would highly recommend that to you. In addition to that, I will
tell you something you probably already know, that there are many
publications put out by the National Trust in Historic Preservation
in a general sense that relate to house museums, research and
things of that nature. Publications of a much more technical
nature are published, first by the American Association of State

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 2

and Local History. Excellent publications that they put out. And
then lastly and certainly not least are other publications that
come out of the National Park Service. "CRM," which is a regular
publication, a pamphlet. The "CRM" is an acronym for Cultural
Resources Management. I think you will find that the information
in that is extremely interesting and then, in addition to that and
of a much more technical nature, are publications called
"Preservation Briefs" that are put out by the National Park
Service. Most of you will probably be familiar with those. I
think there are about 26 or 28 of those out now. You can buy them
as a group in any government book store or through the National
Trust for Historic Preservation bookshop that you can buy them in
this group. They're not too expensive and they give you technical
information about restoring and researching structures.

Now, to set the tone of what I'm going to talk about this morning,
I'm going to begin with a quote that's attributed to Napoleon.
Napoleon said that history is a fraud agreed upon. You can see
where I'm going to come from this morning with regard to research
and interpretation. What I'd like to do is talk to you generally
about the process of research and interpretation, show you some
examples of how our time, how we approach historic properties, that
approach is reflected as much or even more in the properties that
we interpret and that we research than the actual history that we
are interested in that we are trying to interpret. We cannot
recreate the past. I think we're all very much aware of that. Our
research and our interpretations are reflections of our attitudes
towards the past. They are, in fact, as much or more reflections
of our time than of the past, and that's really the point I want to
make this morning.

Research, in particular, in researching historic properties, really
calls upon three academic disciplines. The first is archaeology,
the second is history, and the third is a broad area which I will
just call architectural documentation, even though that term
includes engineering testing and certain types of measurements,
historic paint analysis and things of that kind. Now I'm not going
to go into those in any detail this morning, but what I want to
stress about archaeological research and architectural
documentation is this: When we begin to approach historic sites
and look at buildings as artifacts, we bring to those sites our own
personal prejudices and our own cultural context, and we cannot
escape those things. We interpret things in our own terms looking
at objects as artifacts. When we start looking at the historical
documentation of sites and read, for instance, the written record
or the drawn record of historic sites that are left by others of
earlier generations, then we are faced with the problem of not only

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 3

our own biases and our own prejudices, but also the biases and
prejudices of those who left the written records which we are
examining. So we are always removed from the actual event of
history itself by many, often many, layers, and we must be very
careful, I think, when we interpret these layers and turn these
things into displays that we present to the public.

When we go to historic sites, I think we need to go as doubters.
We need to know who is really interpreting this. How accurately
done is it? Can we accept it at face value? I think in many cases
we cannot. We cannot avoid making mistakes. The thing that I'm
trying to stress is we must always recognize that we cannot
recreate history, that we are really interpreting it in terms of
our own time whenever that time might be. Now, to begin explaining
a little bit of what I'm talking about here, I would like to start
with a big project. All the projects I'm going to show you, by the
way, are owned by the State of Florida. The first project I'm
going to discuss in terms of interpretation is the 1902 Florida
historic capitol. The second project is a reconstruction project
of Fort Foster, which was the second Seminlc war fort north of
Tampa on the Hillsboro River. And the last project is a very small
sugar mill site just north of Daytona Beach called Beulow
Plantation and with that, Norma, if we can turn the projector on.

The slide you see is the remains or consists of the remains of the
old Florida capitol nestled within the construction of the new
Florida capitol. This slide was taken in the late 1960's, probably
about 1968 or '69. Here you can see that some of the demolition
work is actually begun in one of the wings of the old capitol. Now
what I'm interested in here is not the process that was gone
through to document this building. There was extensive
archaeological work undertaken. There was extensive historic
research accomplished, not only by my firm but also by the historic
Tallahassee Preservation Board and by state historians. And there
was a tremendous amount of architectural field measurement and
investigation accomplished, paint analysis, all of those things.
By the numbers, all of the work was done by the numbers. What I'd
like to point out here is that the selection of the 1902 version of
the capitol was really the result of a political process that
really did not grow out so much of the history of the capitol but
really out of the political process that was in place in
Tallahassee at that time.

Now what you're looking at in the old capitol is its entire extent
as it had been constructed through about 1948. You will see that
there are wings on the far extremes of the building that reach back
and actually touch the new capitol. The cabinet decided that it

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 4

was necessary to have a study conducted when time came to vacate
the old capitol and occupate the new. By the way, the old capitol
had to continue in use as the new capitol was constructed because
there was nowhere to put the state agencies. So the old capitol
was continually used for about ten years during the construction of
the new capitol. When construction of the new capitol began,
Edward Durell Stone, who was the designing architect, assumed that
all of the old capitol would be demolished. Nothing would remain.
And in front of the new capitol, there would be a space for an
immense landscapedforecourt that would literally step down the hill
in front of the capitol for several blocks, really a magnificent
scheme. However, there were a few diehards, some in important
places in Tallahassee, one being the night editor of the
Tallahassee Democrat, that met with certain members of the cabinet
and the legislature when the new capitol construction began and
said, "Look, don't make a decision about demolishing the old
capitol until the new capitol is completed. Let's just put it on
a back burner because we feel that the thing should be debated a
little bit." Well, that was done early in the 1960's. The cabinet
and the legislators agreed to do that. Durell Stone continued with
the design of the new capitol assuming that the old would be

The time finally came to make the decision. The cabinet said, "We
need a study on which to base the interpretive decision of the old
capitol." The alternatives that we once studied are fik'e. The
first alternative is the old capitol will be demolished in its
entirety and Edward Durell Stone's plan will be carried forward as
originally conceived. The second alternative is the old capitol
will be demolished in its entirety, but the footprint, the outline,
of the building will be preserved as a memorial in the landscaping
in front of the new capitol. The third alternative will be to
demolish all of the old capitol except that part of it that
comprises the 1845 or the earliest version of the building. Now
that version of the building in this slide is the part that exists
immediately under the dome that you see in the foreground, a very
small building. Smaller than most governors' mansions, but that
was the third alternative. The fourth alternative was to restore
the capitol to its 1902 configuration, which I will show you in a
minute. And then the last alternative was to leave the old capitol
as it was, nestled in between the new wings of the new capitol,
almost a physical impossibility but, nevertheless, that was the
fifth alternative.

I won't dwell on this except to tell you that the interesting thing
here in getting the interpretation to become a political decision
is that the then-governor of the state at the time, Governor Askew,

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 5

was really put on the spot because he had agreed with the
architectural profession that a new capitol was the proper symbol
for the State of Florida and in the time, the ten-year period,
between this gentleman's agreement, between the cabinet members and
legislators and some of the liberal local people on the paper and
others, the preservation movement began to grow in Florida. A
hidden (inaudible) ? So, suddenly, here Askew is faced with the
same architects -tat had asked him to build a capitol who are now
coming back and saying, "Hey, we think you ought to preserve part
of the old capitol." Really a dilemma, and he was up for re-
election and felt he had to take a position that the old capitol
goes. That was the original commitment. At the other end of the
spectrum was the Secretary of the State at the time, Bruce
Smathers, who also wanted to run for governor. His position was
exactly the opposite. His position was that the old capitol should
be saved in its entirety and, to make his point even stronger, he
refused to move out of the old capitol. So here you have these two
opposite extremes politically making the decision as to what the
preservation is going to be and what the interpretation is going to

Well, as politics would have it, a compromise was reached somewhere
near the middle between the two extremes. Luckily, in my opinion,
the decision to restore the capitol to its 1902 configuration,
which you can see in plan here, the small building in the center of
the slide surrounded by landscaping and with pedestrian walkways,
that was the best architectural decision actually. The earlier
capitol was not well-documented. The 1845 version, that is, was
not well-documented, and it was so small that it would have been
engulfed by the new capitol. The 1902 version had been slightly
expanded and had a dome and could hold its own. So what we have
here, and I won't dwell on it any further, is a 1902 capitol which
resulted out of the political process and, luckily, was the right
answer to the question but, nevertheless, it is very much a
product, you see, of that period in time, about 1968. No other
period of time would probably have created this answer to the
restoration of the capitoWl. So this was very much not only an
expression of the 1902t'ut, even more, an expression of 1968 and
Florida politics at that time.

Alright. I'm going to show you a quickie here that has to do with
the incompetence of the architect in making decisions because we
cannot make decisions if we don't have information. Here t is,
the center stair hall of the 1902 capitol. There was at one time
a sky light above this stair hall, above a plaster dome. Here is
the plaster dome being restored. We could not find plans, we could
not find photographs, we could not find descriptions of what that

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 6

dome was. So based on the best information that we had, we planned
it, as you see being constructed here, with these plaster cores
leading up to a support for a stained glass sky light above. Here
you see it. We're going to see it looking up in just a minute.
You can see the dome, plaster dome, up above in this photograph.

Now we did not know what the stained glass sky light was, either.
One day, some of my personnel and people from the Division of
Archives happened to look down the top of a partition in the attic
and they saw millions of little glistening pieces of glass that had
been dumped down into the partitions. Those pieces of glass were
fished out and, to our amazement, we discovered that when the sky
light had been removed some time in the 1920's, no record had been
kept of it, but the workmen were too lazy to take the glass down in
buckets, so they simply dumped down into the tops of the partition.
Thousands of pieces of glass about as big as a quarter were
salvaged, and the sky light was built based on those pieces of
glass. But it took a year for the Division of Archives people to
put it back together.

This part of the plaster dome had to be constructed before the
final design of the sky light was known. So what we get here in
the number of divisions that you see around the sky light is the
improper number of divisions. Because when the sky light was
actually restored, it had, I think, 12 divisions, and the number of
divisions in the plaster are actually 16, based on an educated
guess. So now, when you go to the capitol, you can look up and you
can see another expression of restoration in the 1970's done based
on conjecture. And here is that sky light from above, really a
remarkable job of reconstruction by the state personnel, I have to

Here is the last thing I'm going to show you about interpretation
and research on the capitol. This is the restored Supreme Court
chamber and, through the windows, you can see the striped red and
white awnings that are peculiar to the Florida State Capitol.
These are based on very careful research and we can prove beyond a
doubt that these awnings were on the capitol, or had been on the
capitol, since just after the Civil War up until the beginning of
World War II. As these awnings began to be applaced on the
restored capitol, Tallahassee Democrat began to receive a lot of
letters. Those letters were from irate citizens who said, "You are
making the capitol into an ice cream parlor." Well, we had to do
some quick work and a counter letter or explanation was published
by the paper, and that explanation was based on historical
research, and it said, "What you have on the capitol is the bunting
of the flag, the American flag, expressed in those awnings. And it

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 7

is the ice cream people who have copied the capitol.
other way around."

It's the

Now to show you the vagaries of public opinion and interpretation
and restoration, some months later, a bad storm came through
Tallahassee and ripped the awnings off of the building. (Tape
ended incomplete sentenced. N f f

... was constructed above an archeological resource. Now first you /4 r
need to know that only minimal archaeological work had been done at
this site. Most of the information about this fort remains in the
ground today. So there was just enough archaeological information
to allow us to place it properly.

In historical documentation, you may be interested to know that in
the Library of Congress, there are literally many feet of shelving
that contain information from the second Seminolewars that have
never been cataloged and that are not available to us for research,
so all of these records were simply not available. The driving
force in interpreting this site was, first, the state's desire to
have a second Seminale. fort, none of which had survived, for
inia~dible) for teaching reasons. They felt that that was
important. But even more importantly, and the thing I want to
stress here is, is that there was a legal restriction that governed
this interpretation. And that legal restriction was in the deed
that gave this property to the state, and the clause in the deed
said the fort shall be reconstructed precisely upon its original

Now those of you that have any archaeological resources on your
property know if there was ever a no-no in research and
interpretation it is you do not build things on archaeological
resources, particularly if you cannot investigate them, and we did
not have the funds to investigate. So the first recourse was to
suggest to the donor that the fort be relocated nearby on a site
that was not archaeological valuable but had the same orientation
to the Hillsboro River. Here you can see it's about a hundred feet
wide at this point. The purpose of the fort was really to guard
the bridge across the Hillsboro River at that time. The owner was
adamant. "You will not relocate the fort. It will be on the
original site." So back to the drawing boards. And then we just
said, "Well, let's go back and suggest that we landscape this site
and build a large model in a museum structure nearby." The owner
said, "Build it on the site where it was." So then we said, "Okay.
How about if we move it? How about if we keep it on axis with the
bridge, keep it in its geometrical relationship, but move it about
15 feet further away so that the walls of the fort only cross the

bI DAcf4'

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 8

original walls in maybe two places at the most and we don't have to
excavate very much archaeologically to do this. We can afford it."
And the owner finally said, "Yes."

Now, remember Napoleon's quote. When we think about this site and
we think about the things that I've shown you on the capitol, you
see, what you're seeing here again is a project, first, that's a
reconstruction. I'm not going to tell you about how much of it is
conjectural, but I will tell you that it's about 80 to 85 percent
correct, that is before vandals burned part of it. But,
nevertheless, here we have history interpreted the best way we can,
again, a beautiful example of the way we approach interpretation
and documentation in the middle 1970's, in this particular case.
Is it a fraud or is it not? Does it meet a purpose that is
acceptable or does it not? Difficult philosophical questions here,
I think, in looking at these particular sites.

And here are just a few slides of the fort to show you what it
looked like when it was restored. I have to tell you one
additional thing. I don't want to dwell on this because our time
is running out. This is the interior of one of the block houses.
Part of the reconstruction of this fort was based upon
archaeological evidence that we could not get. In other words,
there was no archaeological evidence for something, so we assumed
that something else had been there. That is in regard to the block
house that you see here. When you build a log cabin, it's built
all above the ground and, when it disappears, often there is very
little archaeological trace of it, and we assume the construction
of these from a lack of evidence rather than from evidence itself.
And, secondly, when we were halfway through rebuilding this fort,
someone came up with a db&ry that had a drawing of the fort in it.
The first drawing we had. It's the worst thing that can happen to
you. You mean we really know what it looked like after we're
halfway through? Well, you'll be interested to know that military
tradition is so rigid and so unchanging, since a lot of this was
based on military tradition, that we were amazingly accurate with
the restoration, I'm happy to say, with the parts that we could see
in the drawing, anyhow.

Okay. I'm going to finish up with a little site that really is the
smallest that I've ever worked upon. This is at Beulow Plantation
north of Daytona, the site of an old sugar mill, and here you see
the ruins as we were able to draw them. Actually the tree cover
and the plants here are just absolutely spectacular. If you ever
have a chance to visit this site, please do so. It's just an
absolutely gorgeous site.

Research and the Interpretive Message
Herschel E. Shepard, Jr.
Page 9

The state had a total budget of $18,000 for this project. To
reconstruct the sugar house, which is the inverted T-shaped
building that you see in planning, would have cost, even in the
late 1960's, close to a million dollars. So this project is driven
by economic necessity. We were unable to really restore the site.
I think that's the best thing that possibly could have happened
here. What you see here when you visit the site are simply the
series of walks. But you see in this slide they go throughout the
site, prevent you from walking on the ruins of this millhouse which
was burned by the Seminoles in 1836, and all of the pieces are
lying there on the ground. Never been touched. Still there. Real
history. This is the way it looks today. The walks can easily be
removed. They're all put on a layer of sand so they don't disturb
any of the archaeological remains. But I think that you can get
some idea of the beauty of the site from those slides. And what
I'm going to do, after looking at that site, I just want to tell
you that what you have there is the real artifact. It has not been
touched. It has been stabilized. The real thing is there, and
this is very remindful of a person's attitude with whom I'm certain
most of you are familiar, John Ruskin. And it seems to me that
it's very appropriate to end with a few lines from John Ruskin who
wrote these words about 150 years ago. Ruskin, by the way, was the
founder of the preservation and restoration movement in England.
Here's what he said:

"Restoration means the most total destruction which a
building can suffer, a destruction out of which no
remnants can be gathered, a destruction accompanied with
false descriptions of the thing destroyed. Take proper
care of your monuments and you will not need to restore
them. Watch an old building with an anxious care. Guard
it as best you may and, at any cost, from every influence
of dilapidation. It's evil day must come at last, but
let it come declaredly and openly, and let no dishonoring
and false substitute deprive it of the funeral offices of

And with that, I end. Thank you.

r "