Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Title: The governor's house
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 Material Information
Title: The governor's house
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090509
Volume ID: VID00042
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Full Text

This material was verifaxed at the Commission office on Aug. 20, 1961,ftom

papers borrowed from John R. Fraser.

//' ,


,4He Majesty The King of Spai,, in the year 1680, in one of the
monuments on that loaig trail of eve:.ts which led to establishment
of European civilization in the United States.
Until the discovery and naming of.Floricd by Don J4h Ponce
de Le6n, in 1513, the North Amorican continent was an unexplored
wilderness peopled only by savages.
With the discovery of Florida a new era started, for at the
same time Poceo de Le6n discovered the Gulf Stream flowing between
the Bahama Islands and the Florida coast. As a result of this die-
covery a new trade route was established from the Spanish American
colonies to the mother country. It was to control this sea route
that France and England invaded Spanish territory in North America&
It was to protect it that St. Augustine was founded.

Subsequent to Juan Ponce de Le6n's two voyages Spain made
repeated attempts to explore and colonize Florida. The expeditions
of Narvaez, Cordoba, Garay, De Soto and Do Allyon established that
Florida was not an island, as Ponce de Le6n had at first believed,
but a vast continent. As a result of these explorations Spain
claimed all that vast territory from the Straits of Florida to

. 9


Labrador and from the Atlantic to the Pacific; but all attempts to

found a permanent settlement in this territory had resulted in


In 1561 the Spanish crown, putting in effect a decision

reached by a council in Mexico City, decided to make no more attempts

to colonize Florida. The following year France invaded Spanish

territory and founded Obarleafort, near present Port Royal, South

Carolina. This settlement was soon abandoned, but in 1564 another

French invasion, resulted in establishment of Fort Caroline, at the

mouth of the St. Johns River.

This direct threat to the Ba.hama Channel Route, by which all

treasures from Mexico, Peru, Chile and even the Philippine Islands,

wes being transported from Havana to Spain, could not be endured.

Pedro Uendndez de Aviles, the most experienced naval commander of his

time, was sent to Florida to destroy the French settlement and to

fortify the Florida coast. It was in carrying out this plan that

St. Augustine was founded.


Founding of St. Augustine brought the first permanent intro-

duction of European civilization into the present continental

United States. For more than axwmr knemtyrge m forty years there

were no other white settlers in all the Continent of Florida*

The date of St. Augustine's founding is September 8, 1565. It is

from this date that the era of civilization in the United States of

America is reckoned.


The infant city, often gerrieo ed by no more than 150 effective

soldiers, surrounded by hostile savages, threatened continuously by
piratical attacks from other European nationals, led a precarious

existence. Its first defense was hastily contrived by throwing up

earthworks around the community house of the Indian village of

leloy. Following this more formidable wooden forts were built,

each lasting but a few years. In the first 100 years of the City*'

existence fort after fort was built to rot away or be burned

by pirates. In 1535 royal approval was given for building a fort

of stone; however, 7. years passed before construction of this

stone fort, the present Castillo de San UMrcos, was begun. The

reasons for this delay ire found ippain's loss of sea power.


The 17th Century, now three quarters gobe, had been a ory

disastrous period for S~in. During the 15th, ana most of the 16th

Centuries, Spain's see power had been formidable. The Invincible

Armada, which was to humble .gi nd, was wrecked on the English

coasts in 1588. Frora tAit year Spanin's sea power declined. Her

Americon colonies suffered accordingly.

No longer were english, French anI Dutch pirates the only

menace in the West Indies. M an of the islands had now passed en-

tirely from Spanish control r.d harbored settlements established by

other European nations. By 1570 England was in possession of the

islands of Barbadoes, St. Luci;, 3t. Vincent, St. Kitts, Nevis,

Anguila, Monserrat, Jamaica sno the Bahamas. The French held

Guadaloupe and part of Haiti. De.mark and the Netherlands had

settlements in the Virgin Islands.

The Continent of Florida did not escape similar invasion.

Jamestown was founded in 107. Onarleston haa become a flourishing

English town and, by treaty of 1670, the limit between Spanish and

English territory was fixed at a line running west from Port Royal.

The settlers of Carolina, however, "claimed the true line was at

latitude 29 degrees, which would have included St. Augustine and

peninsula Florida as far south as New Smyrna.

Far to the north Pilgrim Fathers and Puritans were firmly

established in New England. The French had settlements at Montreal

and Quebec. The Dutch had already been expelled from New Amsterdam

by the English and its name changed to New York. As Don Peblo de

Hits y Salazar was starting his house in St. Augustine, LaSalle was

starting his exploration down the Mississisppi River which would

ultimately lead to the founding of New Orleans and Mobile.


It was on October 2,lr71, that Don tpnuel de Cendoya, with

impressive ceremony, began the building of Castillo de Sen Marcos.

Don Manuel had just been appointed Governor of Florida and

had at once secured the services of Ignacio Daza, an experienced

military engineer, to prepare the plans. Then, going to Mexico

City, Don MAnuel obtained 12,000 pesoa with which to start construct-

ion. Though an able and incustrious man, it was not Don Manuel's

fate to proceed far with the work. He died suddenly in 1673. The

government of St. Augustine, and Florida, passed temporarily into

the hands of Don Nicolas Ponce de Le6n. Little was added to the

Castillo during the next two years, for Don Nicolas was not the man

to carry on a work of this magnitude.


It was in May, lt75, that Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar

arrived in St. Augustine to take office as Captain General and

Governor of Florida and its Provinces.

Don Pablo was a man advanced in years. He had seen much

military service in Flanders; in the Castillo de Amberes, in Ghent

and in Ohambrai. In the New World he had been Alcalde Mayor of the

City of Vera Crux and of the Port of San Juan de Ulloa. Truly his

life had been, as he writes in a letter to the King, "no other than

that of the harquebus and pike." It was because of this extensive

military service that Don Paolo was sent to Florida to carry on con-

struction of the Castillo, hardly begun by his predecessor Don Manuel

de Oendoya.

Though final completion of this massive fortification was to

take many years, it was Don Pablo who raised the walls and put the

structure in defensible condition. He states in his first report

that he found the fort with "neither walls nor moat", while in his

final report, at the close of his term of office in 1680, he states

that the workmen were then engaged in finishing the walls, to meke

them level all around, and that the task of filling in with earth
between the inner and outer courses of stone in the bastions and

curtains was then in progress.

Not only did Don Pablo carry on construction of the Castillo
with great expedition, but he found time to organize and dispatch

a military force against the hostile Apalache Indians, who were

attacking missions in the vicinity of Tallahassee, and to so subdue

them that for many years afterward they and their descendants worked

in St. Augustine on the fortifications.


As the term of Don Pablo as Governor drew near its end and
the day approached in which he must vacate Government House, which

had been the official residence of Spanish Governors for three quarters

of a century, he made a unique decision. He decided to spend the

-teminder of hia life in St* Augustine. His four sone were here,

three of them alrea dy in military service; Don Oeronimo, a ueptain-

Don Juan, also a captain and married to fDofa Ana Menrndes Mr.riques

a descendant of Pedro Men6nde, tfarquez newphew of the founder of

the City; Don Pedro, who ebeoame Adjutant; and Don Thomas yet a

.Youth. Already there were two grandenildren.

On December 8,1680, Don Pablo riote to Mariana, Queen Regent of

pain, that he was building the house. "For", he writes, "there is

one a. the Presidio to rent becaueO t'; n:iruses. that are built are

Weak, of little capacity, being of boards ii-,h the roof of polm

1'aves; .nd the families are incre.aing. '

T;ai. finr.1 reason was both tr-,i and prpeppeti e Church Renords

show that from 1678 to 1710 twenty-se'vcti children were born to his

four sons. Ar.ry of these babies died ir infancy, for the St.

Au&u.tine of those days we.a not kind to ilidren. Those who lived

co:nti-.ued the fir.iy tradition of service either in the armies of

the King, or li 1".A Fr noiscf n Li'tions.

The site Don P.blo R'lected for -this family house was not far '

froAii .. rrint d'icns nt-ve a-work o!t whicli he was engaged. No other

..ll.'i;. t .r: .n i:.tcrvened. :"rom its iairgdor ni could wvtch the

L,.rg~ cin.gii, across t. :arbor, f' eighted with great blocks of

f -a.f-o'nthe quarries on 8,,nta Anosthcia Island. At tne landing

he c,-ului see th'e Apelache Indian slaves s trug-,1 with roller and AL .:

bar :-.o :ove tlhe stones t.hoShore. Cries of drivers urging oxen I'V

on with word vnid 6oad, ..r iach stone was dragged up the inclined to

the FoIt, -would come plainly to ki ears. :

The -front wall of the house was lined with The Street to the

Und ate, for the name St. oeorge war not applied to this treet

until nearly a hundred year later. The land on which the houe was

.1. L I


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built then belonged to the Crown; but throughout eighty-three years

of Spanish rule Don Pablo's family was not disturbed in possession of
Perhaps it was the convenience of stone and lime, and no doubt
the bringing from the quarries of stones too small for use in the

massive walls of the Castillo, yet entirely suitable for residential
use, that enabled Don Pablo to build these walls of such enduring
strength. Above the main entrance door, facing the Street to the
Land date, is the Arms of the House of Salazar; thirteen golden stars

on a field of red, with a border of castles.

How the Salazar's became entitled to bear these thirteen
stars on their escutcheon has come down to us through the Dicooinario

Hist6rioo. oGneal6bico y Herildico, written by Don Luis Vilar y

Pascual, Cronologist King at Arms to Her Majesty Isabella II, Queen

of Spain. The story is recorded on pages 208-209 of Volume VIII
of this work. A translation is given below. The action took place
about the middle of the 13th Century and was fought by Don Lope
Garcia de Salazar.
"There arrived at the Court a valiant Moor, of fierce aspect
and the stature of a giant. Fanatic for his sect, as they generally
are, and confiding in the strength of his religion, he scorned all
the gentlemen of the Court, challenging them one by one to take the
field on foot in defense of their principles.
On seeing him so terrible no one wished to accept; and it

seemed to Lope that this was an affront to those who were with the

King. He asked his grandfather [King Fernondo) that he be allowed

to take up the challenge.

"The monarch consented, with great content, and the challenge

being published all the Court gathered to be present at the fight.

Lope and the Moor entered the field at nine in the morning and had a

strenuous battle. At times the victory inclined in favor of the

Saracen, to the grief of those present, at others in favor of Lope.
"The combat continued until the hour of vespers, in which it

pleased God to decide in favor of him wno, with such good will and

force, had come out in defense of his religion and country. Rejoio-

ing in his victory, Lope killed the Moor and cut off his head.

Stripping him of his robe of black silk, which carried on its breast

a shield of red adorned with thirteen gold-n stars, he presented

this spoil to the King, who joyfully awaited him, and asked that he

and his descendants might bear as Arms those thirteen stars on a

field of red.

"To this the King replied, 'As God has allowed you to win them

there is little necessity of asking them of another.', thus conoeeding

him the request. From that time Lope Gorcia de Salazar discarded

the old castle on a blue field, which had been his Arms, for the
thirteen stars on a red field with some castles for border, and

these words for blazon.

"On a field of red see thirteen golden stars

Waich a bold giant, determined to die, brought from Africa.

Fighting for his law, before the King, Lope Garcia de

Salazar killed him.

And that day gave a great crown to his faith,"


From the time of his arrival in Saint Augustine Don Pablo

had been interested in the work of the Franciscan Missions. Barcia,

the Spanish historian, i, ias aiusayo Oronologico para la Historia de


La Florida. makes several references to the efforts of Don Pablo
de Hita y Salazar to have more friars sent from Cuba and his consider-

ate treatment of those arriving from Spain. Don Pablo's own letters,
many of which are still to be found in the Spanish Archives, show

constant care in protection of established mission schools and many
efforts to extend the mission field. The success of his efforts,

which Barcia mentions, is shown by a letter of March 8,1680, in which
Don Pablo tells of welcoming twenty-four friars on their arrival and
safely installing them in the missions of Apalache.

It was probably this great interest of their grandfather which

prompted two young men of the family to take the Franciscan habit
and later become distinguished workers il the Indian conversions.

They are listed in the Biogrephical Dictionary of the Franciacans

in Spanish Florida and Cuba, Seiger, as follows:
'Hita y Salazar, Joseph de: Born in St. Augustine about 1691.

Statiored at San Marcos de Apalache prior to 1733, and i. that year
was ,roctrinerO Cteaoher] at San Buenaveutura de Palica among the
Mocase natioL. He held the same office in 1727. By the chapter of
1735 he was eleotea guardian of San Antonio de la Tama and was
appointed one of the lectors C professors) of the Timucuan Indian
language. In 1738 he was doctrinero at San Juan del Puerto de Palioa
in the Chiluque nation for which language he was also lectOr. He
enjoyed the titles of Predicedor Gener1a [General Preacher] and

P rediidor Jubilado [Retired Preacherb.
"Hita, Antonio de: Born about 1693. Was a missionary at St.

Augustine in 1722 and Doctrinero of Tama in 1723. In the chapter of

1735 he was named one of the lector in Indian languages, his special

field being that of th. Apalacn tongue."

The birth dates given by Geiger are approximate. The Joseph
he describes seems to be Eusebio Joseph, sixth son of Don GerOnimo


de Hita y Salazar and Dona Maria Rosa de la Vera, born in 1695.

Antonio de Hita was either Antonio Joseph, 1690, or Diego Antonio, 1

1692, both sons of Don Pedro de Hita y Salazar and DoRfa Catharina de



Just how long Don Pablo lived to enjoy his house is not known.

No record of his burial has been found. It is certain that he was

alive in 1695 for there is an entry in the Church Records that on

April 9th of that year little Juana Francisca, daughter of Don

Thomas de Hita y Salazar and DoRa Lorenza do los Rios, was baptized

"In the house of ner grandfather the Sergeant Major Don Pablo de HitCa

y Salazar, Governor and Captain General for His Majesty in these

Provinces." The sponsors were "her said grandfather and Victoria

de la Vera."

Nine days later a touching ceremony took place in this same

house, typical of the religious fervor of the Spaniards of that

period. A wee girlie, a foundling exposed, of parents unknown, was

baptized and named Catharina. Again the aged Don Pablo was godfather,

just as proud to stand sponsor for this little waif as if she had

been one of his own grandchildren.

It is certain that Don Pablo did not live beyond 1698, for the

batmismal record of a slave child, on June 5th of that year, refers

to its parents as being "slaves of the heirs of Don Pablo de Hita y


A pecularity of these baptismal records is that they refer to
Don Pablo as if he were still governor, although his term of office

had ended more than fifteen years previously. This may be explained

by the constant care for him and his family shown by the Crown and
his being carried on the military rolls at full salary after his


retirement from active service. A Roy:bl Cedula of 1682, two years

after nis retirement asg6ovcrnor, commands, "That Don Pablo de Hita

y Salazar is to enjoy his salary as long as he wishes, as is ordered."

In 1693, when many royal gifts and pensions were cancelled, another

cedula was issued, "Providing that the suspension of gifts does not

include tnose enjoyed by Don Pablo de Hita." This royal attention

was extended, nfter Don P.blo's death, to his eldest son. A cedula

of 1698 commands "Tanrt all possible attention be given to Captain

Don Geronimo de Hita y Salazar."

Allowing three years for completion of the house, and it must

have taken that long for it was the largest private r-sidence in the

City, Don P:blo lived to enjoy it for about fifteen years, The re-

m.aining two story section on St. George Street is only part of the

Complete structure. Tne imap of Mariano de la Rooue,1788, snows the

house extending oack 109 feet from the street in a U shape, enclosing

the petiO on three sides. Here was a safe place for the many grand-

children to play. Here, no deo.ot, on sunny days, grandfather Don

Pablo sat among them evoking wonder in their childish minds with tales

of nis campaigns in Flaiders,uid of the castillos he had seen,much

larger than the one he had built hare, in countries that to them were

out .iames of places oebond the sea.

Then c4me the time when Don Pablo was no more. The house

descended to his eldest son, don Geronimo, who in turn left it 'o

\ his son, Geronimo Joseph, and the great-grandchildren of Don Pablo

played in the patio.


By the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, Great Britain obtained

possession of Florida in exchange for Cuba. The Spanish population

was given 18 months in which to dispose of their properties.



j b"-

M '-


Don Geronimo Joseph deeded the house, in trust, to Jesse

Fish a representative of the English mercantile firm of Walton and

Company, to be sold when opportunity offered. The Hita y Salasarz

moved to Cuba.

During the British occupation of Florida, 1763 to 1783, a

colony of Greek, Italian and Minorcan settlers was established at
a /77r7
New Smyrna, some 60 miles soutn of St. Augustine. In -%oItthose

still alive abandoned the New Smyrna settlement and came to 8t.

Augustine, where they were allotted living space in the vicinity of

the City Gates.

As all of these settlers were Roman Oatholice, and the only

church tnen in St. Augustine being Anglican, it was necessary for

their pastor, Father Camps, to rent space in a dwelling in which to

hold services. Tais space was ooteined in the house built by Don

Pablo de Hita y Salazar. The house then became known as the Capill&

Minorca [Hinorcan Chapel] or as the Church of the Mahonese, this

latter name coming from the Port of gahon, ini the Island of iinorca,

from which the colonists had sailed for Florida.' Occasionally it is

referred to as "The Greek Church" as it was the original intention

to settle New Smyrna entirely with Greeks and thus the name "Greek

Settleaent",used in British documents for New Srsyrna, continued to

be applied to that part of St. Augustine in waich these colonists

were located.

Thus Don Pablo's house became the only place of public

Roman Catholic worship in all East Florida from 1778 to 1783. It

*eems particularly fitting that his house should be selected for this

use, as Don Pablo had labored for the faith throughout his lifetime

and his grandchildren, born here, had continued those labors.



With the return of Florida to Spanish rule Don Pablo's house

became a land mark. In the Spanish census of 1783-85 many residences

are descritld with relation to location near the Minorcan Chapel.

The following are examples:

"John Imrie, native of Scotland, lives in a rented house

adjoining the Minorcan Chapel."

"Juan Oianopli, owns a iouse and grounds farther up than

the Minorcan Ch-pel". [ This is the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse]

"Jacob Clark, a- nas a house in George Street beyond the <

Minorcan Chapel."

"Lorenzo 0apo, Sacristan, he lives in the Minorcan Chapel."

At the time of taking this census the Governor's House was in

possession of one Antonio Fornandez,wh- was particularly charged

with the custody of Crown property. It will be recalled that the

land on which Don Pablo built was originally King's land.

The first governor of the second Spanish regime, Don Vicente

Zespedes, made some attempts to adjust conflicts in property owner-

ship due to the change of flags. :'ore decisive steps were taken by

nis successor, Don JA#n Nepomuceno de Quesada, who caused all

properties to be appraised for taxation and those of doubtful owner-

seip sold at auction. There is no mention of a sale of Don Pablots

nouse; but its occupant is given as Dora Eugenia de Hita y Salazar.

This listing is duplicated in the assessor's list of 1803, also

giving Doia Eugenia as the occupant, her right to the property

evidently being recognized by the government in both instances.

No mention of Dofa Eugenia's birth khaz has been found in

the Church Records; many of these are so worm eaten as to be illegible.

There is mention of her on May 25,1761, as godmother to Rita Nicolass,



daughter of Don Simon de Hita and Dora Josepha Rodrigues, which

proves that DoAa Eugenia lived in St. Augustine before the British

Occupation. In the Spanish census of 1790 she is listed as a

widow of 56 years, daughter of Don Geronimo and his wife Donla Juana

Avero, which makes Dofia Eugenia a granddaughter of Don Pablo de Hita

y Salazar.

DuriAg most of yhese years part of the Governor's House con-

tinued to be used as thL !Minorcan Chapel. With the death of Father

Camps, in 1790, and compl-tion of the Cathedral in 1795, the Minoroan

Chapel was discontinued. The walls of the rear section were destroy-

ed in one of St. Auguctine's disastrous fires. The two story

section or St. George Street r-mained intact. As commercial

development extended to this part of the Cityja store front was in-

stalled, the interior stone partitions were removed and the sturdy

arches of the loggia boarded over6 A coat of stucco, tinted and

lied to imitate, "covered the remaining part of the street


Thus, for many years, the house of Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar

stood disguised; but behind this falsework the massive walls which

he had erected in 1380 still remained.


Now Don Pblo's house has been restored to its original

appearance. Intensive research in Spanish and English documents

guided the way. In Spanish tax lists were found measurements of

the stone walls of the house and patio and mention of the arches

of the loggia. In the Diary of John ..rtr1a7, 1765-1766, were

found minute descriptions of St. Augustine houses of that period,

each detail as painstakingly and accurately noted as the celebrated
botanist was wont to describe plants and flowers. In the map of

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Gxwx 'h
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the Spanish military engineer, Mariano de la Roque, a scaled plan

of the house is given. The dimensions check with those found in

ancient deeds.

All of these records were carefully investigated before

restoration was started. There was no real surprise when masking

walls of wood were torn away to disclose the ancient arches of the

loggia, or when umadr removal of wooden floors revealed the base

courses of original partition walls and door openings. Photographs

taken in the 10e l800's show details of the original street

front. Removal of the brick lined stucco disclosed the original

stones long hidden.

Restored now to their original appearance these enduring

walls have become a monument to a famous family of Spanish nobility

which contributed much to the history of Florida; and to a colony of

settlers of more humble origin who toiled, suffered and kept their

faith alive so that their descendants might live in the Saint

Augustine of today.


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