Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 2 - Lot 1, Lot 2, Lot 5
Title: The King's Smithy Site (draft)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090499/00002
 Material Information
Title: The King's Smithy Site (draft)
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 2 - Lot 1, Lot 2, Lot 5
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Publication Date: 1963
 Subjects
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
33 Charlotte Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 33 Charlotte Street
Coordinates: 29.895702 x -81.311668
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090499
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B2-L1
B2-L2

Full Text














THE KING'S SMITHY SITE


Before the relocation of Castillo Drive in 1965, the parking

area of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument covered the entire

Block No. 1 (Lots No. 1 through 7) of the City of St. Augustine. The

area used to be south of the Castillo beyond the former, location of

Castillo Drive.. On Lot No. 5, at the southeast corner of the block,

there was the foundation of a masonry building uncovered by the

demolition of the Bennett Hotel in 1961. It is generally believed

; that the lot and foundation are the location of the King's Smithy

which existed in 1763, and that such existence and location lasted

unchanged until the Spaniards went away in 1821. This report examines

some historical data in order to determine if the belief is

historically correct.

By way of background, some sketchy information about pre-1763

blacksmithing in St. Augustine deserves recognition here. Eight black-

smiths shipped out with Pedro Menendez de Aviles when he came to found
I
this city in 1565. By May 1675, there were three blacksmith shops in

St. Augustine. One was the royal smithy in charge of Chief Master

Blacksmith Tomas Hernandez, and the other two were privately owned by

Master Blacksmiths Manuel Roldan and Diego Cabrera. By May 1683, a

fourth private shop had been opened by Juan Merino, a free Negro who

had been apprenticed by Roldan. The location of these four smithies







S' 1% ' '

is not known. In 1737, however, the royal smithy was located in
3
Castillo de San Marcos.

But getting to the purpose of this report, the location of a

structure labeled as the King's Smithy is indeed represented on the

map of St. Augustine by Castello (1763). The structure is shown in

the general area known as Block No. 1 before the relocation of

Castillo Drive. Unfortunately, for any intentions of taking map

measurements, the boundaries of the block area are not delineated on

the map, At the time, a path ran to the west of the structure,

diagonally from Castillo de San Marcos to the corner of present Hypolita

and Charlotte Streets. This representation is corroborated by the

plan of Castillo de San Marcos by Castello (1763), which shows in

addition a path immediately to the south of the structure.

There is a brief description of the King's Smithy lot and
6
structure in 1763. The lot had an area of 1584 square feet, but it

was not plotted on the map of St. Augustine or the plan of Castillo

referred to above. The structure had only one story, and a wood frame

supported the wood-shingled roof. The 16 1/2 inch-thick masonry walls

had an aggregate lateral surface area of 385 square feet. This shell

was divided into two compartments by an interior masonry wall, and one

compartment was further divided by another masonry wall, partitioning

off a small bedroom with board floor. These divisions had a total ground

surface area of 154 square feet. There were three doors and four
7
windows, and a forge was present on the premises.

During the British period, the area known as Block No. 1

apparently continued looking the same way as in 1763. The boundaries



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A 1737 plan by Royal Engineer Antonio de Arredondo shows the Castillo just before the major ch aes scaling I
English












made in the middle 1700's. The key reads: A-Bastion of San Agustin. B-Bastion of San Pedro. Cn- lumber
Bastion of San Carlos. D-Bastion of San Pablo. E-Ravelin. FGH-Wall washed by the sea, called thecoming
counterguard. K-Powder magazine. L-Storeroom with ship's stores. M-Room with arms. N-Room Bmorelatedl


lieutenant governor of the Castillo. R-Room with provisions. S-Sacristy. T-Chapel. from AV-Guardroom




for offers and men. X il. Z- e necessary. 1-Smith. 2 quarters of oeee -oom wth sodiero
provi 4 utancy alis kitchen. 5-wth artillery sres. 6Cal se. -malentered
that ha
Until I
1737 plan by Royal Engineer Antonio ar e Arredondo shows the Castillo just before the major chains from
made in the middle 17magazin00's. The key reads: A-Bastion of San Austn. B-Bastion of San Pedro. 12- number
Bastion of San Carlos. D-Bastion of San Pablo. E--Ravelin. FGH--Wank washed by the sea, called the
counterguard. K-Powder magazine. L-Storeroom with ship's stores. M-cRoom with arms. N-Room Governo
with provisions. O-Room way, in th arms and military stores. P-Room with provisions. Q-Quarters of the Indians,
lieutenant Iovernor of the Castillo. R-bRoom with provisions. S--Sacristy. T--Chapel. V-sGuardroom
for officers and men. X-Jail. Z-The necessary. 1--Smithy. 2-Quarters of the overseer. 3--Room with soldiers
provisions. 4-Accountakes, which ency alias kitchen city. 30-Sro31-32reroom with artillery stores. -Calaboose. Gene-Smallde
closet. 8-Room where the rations are distributed. 9-Storeroom for the situado (subsidy) goods from 1689.
New Spain. 10--Powder magazine entrance. 11--Governor's quarters and arms room, in ruins. 12- This fi
Storeroom for small stores. 13-14--Ramps. 15--Fixed bridge of planks. 16--Drawbridge. 17-18-19-20--
Counterscarp. 21--Entrance to the Castillo. 22--Gate for communication with the counterguard. 23-24- Governo
25--Part of the covered way, in the shape of a wall with stakes on the inner and outer faces, which was
traced out. It is to be built by convicts, with the objective of covering the Castillo on this land side and to southern
shelter the townspeople. 26--Gate leading to the field. 27-Present gate. 28-29--Part of the line, made of had, again
yucca and stakes, which encloses the city. 30-31-32-33--Fresh water wells. Original in Archiuo General de
Indias. of St. Au


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of the block and lot where the King's Smithy had been are not plotted

on contemporary maps of St. Augustine. The maps, however, show a

structure apparently in the same location where the Smithy appeared
8
in the Castello maps. It is not known whether or not the British

altered the structure, but evidently they too used it as a smithy,

judging from the label it had in 1782: Artillery Smith's Shop.9

The first piece of evidence which delineates partly the general

area of the King's Smithy, known as Block No. 1, is a map of St.

Augustine by Rocque (1784)1 The east, south,'y and west boundaries of

the block are represented, but those of the Smithy lot do not appear.

The structure also is khown, with its south side resting on the south

boundary of the block. The east side, however, is some distance west of
10
the block's east boundary. An accurate measurement of that distance

cannot be obtained from the map scale, but the evidence suggests that

the structure waswwest of.the foundation uncovered by ,the removal of

the Bennett Hotel. The size of the Smithy structure too becomes more

definite: it was reported that the structure measured 30 feet 9 inches
11
in front, 19 feet 3 inches in depth, and that it was in good condition.

It is assumed that this structure is the same one extant in 1763.

Less than three years later, the King's Smithy was in need of

repair. On March 10, 1787, Chief Master Blacksmith Luis Molina

requested unspecified repairs on the structure, and Governor Vicente
f i 12
Manuel de Cespedes decreed that they be performed whenever feasible.

By the end of the year, footings had been opened and the foundations

was being poured for an additional room at one end of the structure, of

the same width as the rest of the building. Also, lumber as follows,



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had been cut for the work under way:

2 cross-beams, 37' long, 7" wide, 5" thick;
9 pine studs, 21' long, 10" wide, 5" thick; and
2 studs, 11' long, 4" wide, 3" thick.13

The modification was performed on the structure reported in good condi-

tion in 1784, which from the context of the royal engineer correspondence

for the period, was the only building then used as the King's Smithy.14

The first piece of evidence which indicates the boundaries of

the King's Smithy lot is another map of St. Augustine by Rocque (1788).

The axis of the lot runs east-west, beginning on the east boundary of

the block. The lot was bounded on the east by the Marina LBayfront/;

on the south, by a cross street LCuna/; on the west, by lot held by

Diego Segui, who had two timber-frame houses in bad condition on it; and

on the north, by lot held by Andre's Lopez, who had a timber-frame,

shingle-roofed house in bad condition on it, and by lot held by Antonio

Pons, who had a two story timber-frame house in fair, condition on it.

Within the Smithy lot, a map measurement shows the Smithy structure to be

30 1/4 feet west of the lot's east boundary.5 From experience gained

in extensive work with said map, Archeologist Robert H. Steinbach,

St. Augustine Restoration and Preservation Commission, using the factor:

1 vara = 3.5 feet, computes that distance as 40.6 feet. The evidence

definitely suggests that the Smithy structure traced so far was located

west of the foundation uncovered at Bennett Hotel site. The notebook

which accompanied the 1788 map by Rocque does not give measurements

for the King's Smithy lot, but it does describe the structure as "a

masonry house, in fair condition, where the King's Smithy is located."

Map measurement of the symmetrically rectangular structure yields a



4


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had been cut for the work under way:

2 cross-beams, 37' long, 7" wide, 5" thick;
9 pine studs, 21' long, 10" wide, 5" thick; and
2 studs, 11' long, 4" wide, 3" thick.13

The modification was performed on the structure reported in good condi-

tion in 1784, which from the context of the royal engineer correspondence

for the period, was the only building then used as the King's Smithy.14

The first piece of evidence which indicates the boundaries of

the King's Smithy lot is another map of St. Augustine by Rocque (1788).

The axis of the lot runs east-west, beginning on the east boundary of

the block. The lot was bounded on the east by the Marina LBayfront/;

on the south, by a cross street LCuna/; on the west, by lot held by

Diego Segui, who had two timber-frame houses in bad condition on it; and

on the north, by lot held by Andre's Lopez, who had a timber-frame,

shingle-roofed house in bad condition on it, and by lot held by Antonio

Pons, who had a two story timber-frame house in fair, condition on it.

Within the Smithy lot, a map measurement shows the Smithy structure to be

30 1/4 feet west of the lot's east boundary.5 From experience gained

in extensive work with said map, Archeologist Robert H. Steinbach,

St. Augustine Restoration and Preservation Commission, using the factor:

1 vara = 3.5 feet, computes that distance as 40.6 feet. The evidence

definitely suggests that the Smithy structure traced so far was located

west of the foundation uncovered at Bennett Hotel site. The notebook

which accompanied the 1788 map by Rocque does not give measurements

for the King's Smithy lot, but it does describe the structure as "a

masonry house, in fair condition, where the King's Smithy is located."

Map measurement of the symmetrically rectangular structure yields a



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length of 38 1/2 feet approximately and a width of 16 1/2 feet.16

These measurements are so close to those reported in 1784 that, for

all practical purposes, the size of the structure had not changed.

The size, however, should have been larger in 1788, considering the

room being added to the structure at the end of 1787. Archeologist

Steinbach computes the map measurement above to be 47.7 feet long

and 22.75 feet wide.

A more precise location and size of the King's Smithy lot

and a brief description of the structure thereon appears in the

appraisal ordered in 1790 by Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada of

all the houses and lots in St. Augustine. The lot was described as

being 110 feet on the front from east to west, and 93 1/2 feet in

depth from north to south. It was bounded on the east by the Marina

ZBayfront, on its front the south by a cross alley /Cuna StreetJ,

ondthe west by a crown lot held by Diego Segu4, and, on the north by

the lot of Juan Carreras. The structure on the lot was listed as a

masonry house whose floor was at ground level, covered with wood shingles,

serving as the King's Smithy. The aggregate length of the Masonry walls

was 132 feet. The height of these walls was 8 feet 2 inches. All the

woodwork was beyond repair.17 The lot described above is the one where

stood the structure described in 1784, and the structure is the same

one traced from that date to this appraisal of 1790.

In 1792, the actual performance of blacksmithing was moved out

of the lot and structure so far identified as the King's Smithy. On

May 17, 1793, Chief Master Blacksmith Pedro Lefebvre stated that for

more than a year he had been paying 3 pesos monthly for the rent of the










private house where he was doing work as royal blacksmith. He requested

reimbursement of such monthly expense or repair of the old smithy,

presumably for return of blacksmithing to a government building. The

Royal Treasury officials agreed to reimburse Lefebvre until such time
18
as the building in question was repaired.8 The private house where

Lefebvre was doing his work had, therefore, become the de facto King's

Smithy. The location of the private house is as yet undetermined.

The structure known as the Smithy must have been so deteriorated

that it had been desirable to vacate it.

The action in answer to Lefebvre's request resulted in the

beginning of construction of a new structure for the Kin1g's Smithy,

rather than repairs to the old one. On May 28, 1793, Governor Quesada

autherized the repair of the vacant Smithy after the completion of

other more pressing tasks.19 But Engineer Pedro Dfaz Berrlo probably

estimated that it was just as economical to build a'new structure as

to repair the old one. The governor must have approved. Be as it may,

in October, Diaz remarked that stone was available to begin the

construction of the Cathedral Church and the King's Smithy.20

It may be speculated that the Cathedral building had priority

over funds, labor, and materials, and consequently work on the new

smithy structure stopped altogether, or was done intermittently. At

any rate, on September 29, 1796, more than three years later, Diaz

informed Governor Enrique White that until such time as "His Lordship

may determine to continue building the house already begun to locate

the KingAA Smithy," it wotld be useful to stock up po ordinary bricks,
21
required for the mantel of the chimney for the forge.21 Next day, the

governor replied that construction should continue "on the building


t











intended for use as gunsmithy and blacksmithy," provided present

chores allowed it. White wanted to save the Royal Treasury the

3-peso monthly payments for the two rooms occupied by the shops

in question.22

After fourteen years at a temporary location, the King's

Smithy returned to the new structure built for it. Begun in 1793,

the structure was finally delivered to the government on January 11,

1806, by Engineer Captain Manuel de Hita. He described the lot as

measuring 55 feet on the east, 114 feet 7 inches on the south,

45 feet 6 inches on the west, and 99 feet on the north. It was

fenced with split pales, but there was a two-leaf gate on the

south side. Each leaf had a pair of cruceta hinges. Two sliding

iron bolts and a complete wooden lock closed the gate. There was a

well, revetted with three iron-hooped casks.

Hita described the building on the lot as trapezium-shaped.

It measured outside 44 feet 11 inches on the east, 29 feet 11 inches

on the south, 39 feet 9 inches on the west, and 21 feet 1 inch on

the north. The two-story house was 15 feet 11 inches high from the

socle to the eave. The roof had two slopes and was wood-shingled.

The lower story was divided in the middle by a tabicon into two

apartments: a dwelling and a forge room.

The dwelling had an hormigo'n floor; a two-leaf plain door to

the west, with two sliding iron bolts and complete wooden lock, and

two spike hinges on each leaf; a two-leaf plain window to the north,

with a wooden bar fitting into two iron grampones for closing, and


I








two spike hinges on each leaf; another Spanish-type window to the

east, similarly equipped as the preceding.

The forge room had a coquina floor; a Spanish-type, two-leaf

door to the east, with a wooden bar fitting into two iron grampones

for closing, and two spike hinges on each leaf; another two-leaf

plain door to the west, with two sliding iron bolts and complete

wooden lock, and two spike hinges on each leaf. Two Spanish-type, two-

leaf windows opened to the south and one to the east, each with wooden

bar and iron grampones, and each leaf with two spike hinges. A two-

bellows forge was in the center of the room, with brick mantle and

chimney stack. Close to the forge, a post prevented the vibration of

the upper floor. Along the south and east walls, there ran continuously

a bench 39 feet 5 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 2 1/4 inches thick,

with wood back. The bench rested on eight strong, jointed posts set into

the ground. A 16-step wood stairway with hand rail led to the upper story.

The coal bin was under the stairway. 'i

The upper story was walled and floored with boards. It had

a Spanish-type, two-leaf window to the north, with wooden bar and iron

grampones, and two spike hinges on each leaf; two plain, two-leaf win-

dows to the south, each window and leaf equipped as the preceding one.

The entire building was plastered inside and out. All doors

and windows were fitted with frames of wood. It was recorded that the

whole was covered with red oil paint, but probably only the upper floor

outer woodwork was so painted.23

The New King's Smithy, it is clear, was a different structure

from the old one, and it stood on the foundation excavated after the


- f twa _ __ ___ _____ __











removal of the Bennett Hotel. The new structure was shaped as a

trapezium; so was the uncovered portion of the foundation. The floor

plan described for the lower story in 1806 conforms to the plan of

the foundation. The measurement given in 1806 for the north wall of

the structure is very close to the measurement of the same wall of

the excavated foundation. Since the south wall of the foundation could

not be found, the length of the east and west walls may have been

altered, and, therefore, cannot be used reliably for illustration. The

new structure had a well in the yard; a well was excavated to the west

of the foundation. The well in 1806, however, seems to have had a

round curbstone, whereas the excavated well is square. Despite all

the above suggestive evidence, the fact is that no piece of documentary

or cartographic data so far uncovered states the location of the new

King's Smithy.

The roof of the King's Smithy may have been'replaced in 1820.

On January 28, Master Armorer Francisco Gue of the gunsmithy reported

that he had seen the roof catch on fire twice due to the rotten

condition of the shingles. He feared that the forge fire imperilled not
24 /
only his shop but also the neighboring houses.24 Engineer Nicolas de

Fano estimated that the thousand shingles for a new roof, some lime,

nails, and labor would cost 22 pesos. He also suggested raising the

chimney stack 11 inches by adding bricks, but he conceded that the

shape of the stack would become different from that which it then
25
had. Governor Jose Coppinger authorized the repair, provided there
26
was money available for it in the treasury. It will be recalled

that gunsmithing was one of the activities to be housed in the

structure already under construction in 1796.











The King's Smithy finished in 1806 was the structure transferred

to the United States in 1821. For this purpose, Engineer Ramon de la

Cruz's report simply paraphased Engineer Manuel de Hita's description

of the earlier date. De la Cruz recorded, however, the two very minor

changes which had taken place on the premises over the preceding fifteen

years. In 1821, the structure was covered with oil paint, but De la Cruz

did not mention red as Hita had; the well occupied an area of 5 1/2

square feet and was 22 feet deep. The replacement of the roof authorized

in 1820 must have been performed because there was no adverse remark

concerning its condition.27


1 ~










1. Fure;iio Ruidiaz, La Florida, 2 v. (Madrid: 1893), II, 560.

2. Cov. Juan 1arquez Cabrera of Florida to the crown, St. Aug., June 28,
1683, 35 ff., AGI 5h-5-14/159, ff. 27-31 (reel 5, document 27, North
Carolina Spanish Records Collection.

3. Antonio de Arredondo, "Plano del Castillo de San Marcos de la Florida,"
Habana, Iay 15, 1737.

h. Pablo Castello, "Plano del Presidio de San Agustin de la Florida y sus
contornos. .," July 21, 1763.

5. Castello, "Piano del Castillo del Presidio de San Agustln de la
Florida. .," July 21, 1763.

6. One vara=33 UIS inches (J. Villasana-Haggard, Handbook for Translators
of S-paish Historical Documents.

7. Charles W. Arnade, "The Architecture of Spanish St. Augustine,"
The Americas, XVII, No. 2 (October 1961), 185-186.

8. Puente, N9ncrief, Solis, Jeffreys, Puroell.

9. "st. Augustine and its Environs, 1782".

10. iariano de la Rocque, "Plano de la Ciudad de San Agustin de la Florida,"
October 11, 1784.

11. De la Rocque, "Noticia del estado en que se hallan las casas. ..,"
October 11, 178h.

12. De la Rocque, "Relacion que comprende las ordenes pasadas por el Sr.
Cobernador y capitan general al ingeniero comandante de esta plaza para
obras y reparos. .," June 30, 1787, EFP Bundle 170, No. 119.

13. De la Rocque, "Afio de 1787. Reparos hechos en las Reales obras de la
plaza de San Agustin de la Florida," December 31, 1787, EFP, bundle 170,
o. 167.

14. De la Rocque, "NIuero 2. Noticia de las maderas que se han cortado...,"
June 28, 1787, EFP, bundle 170, No. 117.

15. Do la Rocque, "Piano Particular de la Ciudad de San Agustin de la
Florida. .," April 25, 1788.

16. Ibid.

17. "Inventarios, tasaciones y venta en public remate de las casas y sola-
res del Rey," Aug. 19, 1790, usually called Quesada list.

18. Gov. of E. F. to comdg. engr., St. Aug., May 28, 1793, EFP, bundle 171,
No. 142.








19. Ibid.

20. "ngr. Pedro Diaz Berrlo to Gov. Juan Iepomuceno Quesada, St. Aug.,
Oct. 21, 1793, ,FP, bundle 171, No. 168.

21. Id. to Gov. Enrique White, Ft. Aug., Sept. 29, 1796, EFP, bundle 171,
7o. 213.

22. 'Tite to Diaz, it. Aug., Sept. 30, 1796, EFP, bundle 171, No. 21L.

23. Wngr. Manuel de Eita, "Inventario del edificio construida para herre-
ria. .,"Jan. 11, 1806, EFP bundle 172, No. 1.

24. 1iastcr armorer Francisco Guc to gov. of E. F., St. Aug., Jan 28, 1820,
EFP, bundle 172, !"o. 211.

2$. Zngr. lNicolas de Fano, "Calculo prudencial. .," St. Aug., Feb. 1,
1820, EFP, bundle 172, No. 218.

26. Govr. Jose Copringer to Fano, St. Aug., Feb. 1, 1820, bundle 172,
r:o. 219.

27. Ramon de la Cruz, "Inventarios. . de todas las fortalezas y edificios
publicos que se conocen son pertenecientes a la Nacion, para la corres-
pondiente entrega de ellas al Gobierno, que ha de hacerla al Comisiona-
do de los'.Estados Unidos de Anerica," June 4, 1821, EFP, bundle 260,
1io. 1.




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