The St. Augustine Record Pae One-B
Sunday Morning April 30, 1950
Historic Street In Heart
Of City Has Seen Many
Changes During Years
(Note: This is the thirteenth in a series of articles written around
old photographs showing St. Augustine in earlier days. Appreciation
for photographs used and information supplied is expressed to Mrs.
A. J. Moulds, assistant librarian of the St. Augustine Historical So-
ciety, Mrs. A. M. Johnson, librarian of the Florida Historical Society
and C. J. Noda of the St. Augustine Gas Company).
By Jim Leonard
Visitors coming to St. Augustine with the first big influx of
tourists after the War Betwen the States entered a town very dif-
ferent from the city as it appears today. The City Gates, Castillo
de San Marcos, the Slave Market, the Cathedral and the Post
Office are still basically the same, although the latter two have
been rebuilt in the last 65 years.
The fire of 1887 gutted the his-
torical old Cathedral on the Plaza. the ground floor for a number of
Although it was enlarged and im- years. When the Minorcans first
proved when rebuilt, it still retains sought refuge in the city, after
the same lines and much of the fleeing Turnbull's colony at New
original structure is still standing. Smyrna, they worshipped in one of
The present United States Post the rooms of this building, which
Office was constructed less than was fitted out as a chapel.
15 years ago on the site of the The old Sanchez house or Old
old Spanish governor's mansion. It Spanish Inn, directly North of the
retains the same lines, and many Ealazar house, has had its facade
of the original coquina blocks were changed from its original appear-
used in its construction, ance. This building was once owned
Just as many do today, early by a daughter of Sir Walter Scott,
visitors to St. Augustine entered the famous novelist.
the city through the City Gates and The Watkins and Arnau (Dodge)
preceded South along St. George houses across the street are in-
Street to the Plaza. Few streets in teresting in that they share a com-
the city show greater change in the mon chimney. It is thought that
past 75 years than does St. George at one time the two houses may
Street. have been used as one structure
Today this thoroughfare is one of due to the single chimney.' From
the main business streets in the the street, they give the appear-
city. Before the turn of the century ance of two separate houses how-
however, St. George Street was ever. The Arnau or Dodge house,
principally a residential street'and which is owned by the St. Augus-
many of the old families of the tine Historical Soriety, was re-
town maintained homes there. Only stored several years ago and is
a handful of these old Spanish-built open to the public.
structures are still standing. The Benet'house, which was lo-
Sometimes a room or rooms on cated at the Southeast corner of
the ground floor of these old houses St. George and Cuna Streets, was
were turned over to small shops remodeled a number of years ago
which were operated by members to house business establishments on
of the family residing in the house. the ground floor with apartments
Fancy handwork, lace and hats and above. Although much of the orig-
other products woven from straw inal structure is still standing at
were items frequently offered for that location, the present building
sale in these small shops, bears little resemblance to the plc-
For many years, the women of turesque balconied Spanish home in
St. Augustine were noted for their which the grandparents of the late
delicate lace and intricate hand- author, Stephen Vincent Benet, his
work. Dressmaking was also prac- brother William Rose Benet and
ticed as a fine art in the city in sister, Miss Laura Benet, once re-
the days when ladies of fashion sided.
made a ritual of costuming them- Immediately South of the Benet
selves in many feathers -and frills. house, the Lorillard villa stood for
Whine St. eorge Street -was a .iuiaber of years s'et in sptfcious,
mainly a residential street, Char- tropically landscaped grounds. Part
lotte Street was the principal busi- of this building is still standing
ness street in the community. To- although it cannot be seen from
day, the situation is reversed and St. George Street. The large frame
Charlotte Street is mainly residen- home, which was decorated with
'tial. much gingerbread trim in the Vie-
St. George Street's change from torian style, was the winter resi-
a residential to a business came dence of members of the famous
about gradually through the years. Lorillard tobacco family for a num-
In addition to the small home shops, ber of years. One member of the
hotel and inn-keeping were among family maintained a private race
other early business ventures on track outside the city where he
the street. The Magnolia Hotel and raced his thoroughbreds for his
th: Florida House were the two pleasure and that of his friends.
largest and best known hotels on The house still standing at No.
the strc:t. There were a number of 105 St. George Street, was built
other smaller ones through the during the early part of the nine-
years as well as a number of board- teenth century. For many years it
ing houses, was the home of the Burt family.
One of the best-known places on Shops now occupy the lower floor,
St. George Street was Genovar's but the structure still has a bal-
Opera House. This structure was cony and retains its original lines.
located at about the same place The Old Spanish Treasury at the
where the Western Auto Associate Southeast corner of St. George and
Store is today. Many entertain- Treasury Streets, was the home of
ments were held in this building, Dr. Seth Peck. His granddaughter,
which was destroyed in the fire of Miss Ann Burt willed the property
1914. to the City of St..Augustine, and
The rooms of the St. Augustine it is now in charge of the Women's
Rifles were also located in the Exchange. The spacious rooms of
Genovar building and many dances the residence contain many in-
and other gala events were held teresting antiques and the enclosed
there by the members of that garden has many old-fashioned
military outfit. varieties of flowers and shrubery.
Proceeding North on St. deorge This building is also- open to the
Street from the City Gates today, public.
the first old building is the old red Before any industry of import-
cedar structure known as "The Old- ance was located in the city and
es School House." In the next before modern transportation and
block, a number of interesting old hotel facilities made St. Augustine
Spanish houses are still standing a favorite stopping place for tour-
together in a group. ists, there was little need for much
The Arrivas house on the West of a business district in the town.
side of the street has undergone Fresh vegetables and fish were
considerable remodeling and bears sold in an open .market in the Plaza.
little resemblence to the original Only a very few stores were re-
structure. The house, which once quired to supply the tovin's 4ecd
had a balcony overhanging the for staples, clothing and other
street, was for a number of years items, most of which were brought
th home of the Bravo family, to the city by boat.
Directly across the street is the A business directory published
structure best known as the Sala- as late as 1904, lists only three at-
zar house. This ancient building, torneys, five drug stores, one
built during the first Spanish occu- dentist, two physicians, two hard-
pation of St. Augustine, has been ware stores and one furniture store
restored after housing offices on which was operated at the same
address by the same man with one
SA listed.eof two undertaking establishments
It W ~While this directory may not oe
accurate, it does show that the re-
SAYS... tailing industries and professional
INSULATE services of St. Augustine have mul-
tiplied many times in less than 50
T*^ "oW an" years. St. George Street, located
r \cut your as it is in the heart of the old part
of town, was a'natural place for
SWinter fuel many of these new businesses to
Skills down! be established along with the
streets bordering the Plaza.
W, e With the city's expansion, other
192 business districts have grown up in
1 2 the West, East and North sections
of St. Augustine. St. George Street
still rates as a major business
street in the community however,
and at least one of nearly every
S( business and professional service
SMATRALD available in the city may be found
A ,, on this street.
ST. GEORGE STREET AS IT APPEARED 70 YEARS AGO
The above viiw shows anoth-
er portion of St George Street,
looking North, as it appeared in
the 1870's and early 1880's. The
The above view, looking
South, shows a portion of St.
George Street as it looked
around 1880. On the immediate
left is the Salazar house, which
for a time housed the Minorcan
Chapel in the city. Next to it
is the balconied Sanchez house,
Photo courtesy St. Augustine Historical Societj
gate in the left foreground was of the Sisters of St. Joseph in
the entrance to the convent of the- city. On the right is the
the Sisters of Mercy, who were Old Spanish Treasury building
here before the establishment with its protective garden wall.
P-..--'- courtesy St. Augustine Historical Society
now called The Old :Spanish These two houses share a com-
Inn. The Manucy housepappears mon chimney between them. The
next and across Cuna Street is balconied frame structure next
the balconied Benet house. In has been identified as the for.
the right foreground is the Ar- mer Dunne home. With the ex-
rivas house. The nest building ception' of the Manucy and
is the Watkins house, then fol- Dunne houses, all are still stand'
lows the Dodge or Arnau house. ing.
OLD VIEW LOOKING NORTH ON ST. GEORGE STREET
This view, looking North on
St. George Street, between
Hypolita and Cuna Streets in-
dicates the many changes that
have occurred through the
years in this portion of the city.
Business houses now occupy
the location of the OQiveros
house, first house oni the left,
and theother well-kept homes
next to it. The fence on the
right enclosed the grounds of
courtesy St. Augustine Gas Company
the Lorillard villa, which was
owned for a number' of years
by members of the prominent
tobacco family. The balconied
structure at the end of the fence
is the Benet house.
This rare old photograph
shows a portion of St. George
Street looking North between
Cathedral and Treasury Streets
during its transition from the
way it appeared in the photo-
Photo courtesy St. Augustine Historical Society.
graph immediately above and sidewalks added. A hit of the
at the present time. The old Bishop's mansion shows at the
convent and other Spanish-built right in the photograph. The
structures have been replaced old Spanish Treasury ti hidden
by business houses and the behind the large tree that hangs
street has been widened with over the street.
ANOTHER TRANSITIONAL VIEW
OLD PRESBYTERIAN MANSE ON ST. GEORGE STREET
The Spanish-built building,
which ,was the home of the
city's Presbyterian ministers for
many years, stood at the North-
SPhoto courtesy St. Augustine Historical Society
west corner of St. George and razed when Henry M. Flagler
Hypolita Streets. The coquina erected the present building on
structure had a lovely garden the site, which houses the offi-
on the South and West. It was ces of the city government.
This view, also looking North,
was taken at a somewhat later
date than the above photograph.
The Mission building, a portion
of which is shown at the left,
was a new business structure
Photo courtesy St. Augustine Historical Society.
in the town. The law offices of frame house that stands direct-
the late W. A. McWilliams were ly at the street's edge. This
located here as were the offices building is thought to be the
of the late Dr. H. E. Lindsley. location of the first school in
Dr. Alexander at one time had the city that offered scholastic
his offices in the old coquina and courses on a college level.
Id S. George Street
ANOTH-----ARLY PHOTOGRAPH OF ST. GEORGE STREET
ANOTHERIARLY PHOTOGRAPH OF ST. GEORGE STREET
TRANSITIONAL VIEW OF PORTION OF ST. GEORGE STREET
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