Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Title: The site of the Menorcan chapel
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 Material Information
Title: The site of the Menorcan chapel 39 St. George Street
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Creator: Wiles, Doris C.
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
41 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Saint Photios Greek Shrine (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Avero House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 41 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.896485 x -81.313233
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090509
Volume ID: VID00093
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B7-L5

Full Text
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[39 St. George Street]

by Doris C. Wiles*

r The Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1763 gave Flor ida

to Great Britain, and provided that Spanish subjects evacuation

St. Augustine could sell their property to British subjects

, within 18 months from treaty ratification. Captain of engi-

aeers Juan de Cotilla was commissioned to appraise properties l

and supervise sales to the English,.

In December, Cotilla completed the appraisal.of a struc- I

ture apparently loc-ated on the site under study. Listed under"

the name of Don Joaqufn Blanco, then the husband of Antoinia de

Avero, the structure was made of stone on a lot measuring 55

va2as on its front, bouncing on the street, and 71 varas in

df epth. The value of the property was estimated at 4827 pesos

Sand 7 reales.2

SWhen Cotilla was recalled to Habana, another Spanish

crown-appointed commissioner, Don Juan JosS Eligio de la Puen-

te, took over Cotilla's duties. To discharge his responsi-

bility property, Puente made a map of St. Augustine, on which

2 he listed the owner, lot measurements, and building material

of each house. The site at 39 St. George Street is described

on the Puente map as follows:

Block E, No. 81. Stone house of Antonie
V de Avero; north to south, 15 varas; east
to west, 71 varas. (4)

*The editors have abridged this article for re-publication.



Puente was unable to dispose of all the properties.

erefore sold certain parcels in trust to Mr. Jesse

who in turn agreed to remit to Puente. orr oher ee-

ed person the proceeds of any sale* which he might

Neither Fish's or Puente's accounts give inaicat-

hot this particular site wks ever conveyed by Autonia.

ero to either Puejate, Fish, or any other British sub-

before she departed for Habana. It is therefore

ed that the house became British crown property in

By 1777, Dr. Andrew Turnbull's New Smyrna colony had

d. Its settlers of Mediterranean origin, accompanied

other Pedro Camps, migrated to St. Augustine. Here

were given lands in the northern part of town by

sh Governor Patrick Tonyn. They found the only place

blie worship to be the Anglican .church, St. Peter's,

uth St. George Street. In the Treaty of 1763, Great

in had guaranteed the liberty of the Catholic religion

e inhabitants of Florida. Governor Tonyn now honored

country's obligation by turning over the hcuse then on

t. George Street site to Father Camps for "a private

ry for the use of the Cathclic Menorcans, knowing that

was -ao other domain to this house but his [British


The Treaty of Versailles in 1783 returned Florida to

nariA ai a t s r4rt-4ia1h a hii 4 a.r t 1R a I i nt-A-i t- n ait ^ A an^ a ^f


their properties. Many Floridians, former residents of

St. Augustine, or their heirs, returned "with the idea that

each of them had a right to take possession of their respec-

tive property by virtue of power of attorney and transfers,

and others without any other formality than that of saying

'this formerly belonged to me, or to my grandfather, or to

my uncle, &c.'." Governor Vicente Manuel de Cgspedes de-

scribe the deplorable condition of the houses in the city,

almost half of which were uninhabitable, and asked that power

be given to him tc grant lands with preference to the old

inhabitants, and afterwards to the Menorcans or any other

Spaniard who might come to settle, and lastly, to foreigners.

Among those who returned was Lieut. Col. Antonio Fernan-

dez, husband of Victoriana Guillen, Antonia de Avero's daughter

by her first marriage. He arrived in St. Augustine in 1784 in

command of a dragoon company, and armed with a power of attor-

ney from the Avero children for repossessing their Florida

properties. Fernandez immediately took custody of two of the
three Avero houses.

The site under study appears on the nrap of St. Augustine

made by Engineer Mariano de la Rocque in 1788. The map pur-

ports to show every house in existence on April 16 and the

ground floor of each house. An accompanying notebook record-

ed the name of the owner or occupant, the building material,

and condition of the house. Rocque described the property on

the site as follows:


Block 2, No. 5. Masonry and square stone
work house with one two-story section,
with a portion of the neighboring lot an-
nexed, with the fence which corresponds
to the house also of masonry; its flat
roofs, frames, and floors in bad condi-
tion; in the custody of Antonio Fernandez. (10)

A little later i4 1788, Victoriana Guillen de Fer-

nandez gave permission tc Eugenia de Rita y Salazar, Anto-

nia de Avero's niece, to use "a masonry house almost in

ruins so that she could live in and take care of it until

the Government determines about this property." The house

was located in front of the house in which Tadeo de Arri-bas

now lives." Arribas was a nephew of Antonia de Avero.

Colonel Fernandez had to absent himself from St. Augustine

and he transferred his power of attorney to Accountant Gon-

zalo de Zamorano of the royal treasury on May 11, 1788.

Zamorano's power was revoked in 1791, when Arribas was

empowered by Fernandez to act in the matter of the Avero


Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada's inspection of

St. Augustine in 1790 revealed that many houses that had

reverted to the crown would be completely lost unless con-

veyed to individual owners. He therefore ordered an inven-

tory of all houses and lots and their sale at public auction,

with the understanding that buyers would repair them within

a year's time. The property then on St. George Street was

listed as No. 45 in Block 7, and the appraisers described

it as a masonry house and lot of the King occupied by Dona


"Eugenia de Hita y Salazar, bounded on the west with Galie

ealZ; on the east with lot of the King; on the north with

Don Francisco Canto; and on the south with house and lot

of Juan Sanchez. The lot measured on the front, north-south,

15 varas ; and in depth, east-west, 100 1/2 varas. The
property was valued at 2328 1/4 reales.

Antonia de Avero, through her proxy Tadeo de Arribas,

sought to block the impending sale of the property. In her

claim of Ownership, she stated that "if there appear any docu-

ments with the name of Don Joaquin Blancc as owner of the. three

houses that remained in this presidio belonging to my children,

the Guillenes and the Blancos, they do not lie nor are ques-

tioned, because he was my legitimate second husband. What is

missing in them is the statement saying 'of Don Jcaqufn Blanco,

representing his wife Dofa Antonia. de Avero'." Antonia also

said that the houses were "established and enlarged" by her

two husbands, and that "in regard to the titles of domain

and ownership with respect to one of the houses, which is

the big one, and which was appraised by Engineer Don Juan de

Cotilla, it is necessary to go back to the year 12 of this

century, in order to know that the lot and old houses which

stood on it came to me by inheritance from my grandparents

and parents."1 Antonia's claim did not prosper.

The public auction was held on April 8, 1791, and Re-

mualdo Mickleaszuveich, a new Florida settler, bought the

house occupied by Eugenia de Hita. She vacated the premises,


but later Micklaszuveich requested her return, until he

brought his family and possessions from Georgia. Moving

back, Eugenia still kept looking for a house of her own.

By August 26, 1793, Micklaszuveich bad not yet returned,
and Eugenia had bought a house for herself to'live in.

Accordingly, she asked the Government to name a custodian
for the St. George Street house. The governor decided

to have the house put up for auction again.

On November 10, 1794, Don Gings de Oliva, an officer

in the Third Battalion of Cuba, asked for "the house on

Royal Street, No. 45, which is in ruins and the walls

deteriorated, bounded on the east with lct of the King,

north by Francisco Ruiz del Cantc, south with the house

and lot of Juan Sanchez." The request was accepted pro-

vided Oliva paid the 810 pesos agreed upon by Micklas-

zuveich, who had never actually paid any money for the

house nor put up the customary bond for security. Oliva

felt the price to be too high, considering the condition

of the house. He was willing to pay 385 pesos or accept

the terms of a new appraisal. On December 12, the account-

ant recommended a reappraisal of the house, and two master

carpenters valued it at 682 pesos and 4 reales. Notice

-of a new auction was posted. 6

In February 1795, Victoriana Guil.1n de Fernandez pe-

titioned for suspension of the sale until she had presented

additional evidence of ownership by Antcnia de Avero. She


buffetedd her mother's will, made in Habana. The tes

mentioned her two deceased husbands, Don Jose Guillei

Don Joaquin Blanco, her children by each of them, an

that all possessions left at Blancc's death had been

during said marriage, except those which she herself

brought to their marriage.

Victorians also presented the. will of her fathe

Guillen, dated December 17, 1743. Guillen had claim

his estate "the houses in which I live with their si
four slaves, but did not give the location of the

["Houses" here means the group of buildings comprisi

ing, such as a house, detached kitchen, outbuildings

Moreover, three witnesses agreed unanimously that th

had been occupied by Guillen during his marriage to

de Avero, and that both Guillen and Blanco had built
to it.

Antonia de Avero's and Victorians's statements

yield sequence: Antonia inherited the lot from her

and Guill6n, her first husband, rebuilt the house be

death, and Blanco, her second husband, added a room

to it before evacuating to Habana in 1763.

In March 1802, Captain Manuel de Castilla, son-

of Victoriana Guillen, presented a claim, in his nam

that of the other heirs of Doia Antonia de Avero, fo

house "located next tc the house of Don Juan Sanchez

:' ~a/r~nt ir<"'n t' nM"irio/ +h^Q- arrCin;f-S /^ ~ ^* ^ ^^ ^C -* . t^

d, and pursuant to the ceuvla of June 17, 1801,

e should be delivered to Castilla. Three months

udge Advocate Don Jose de Ortega filed the opinion

house [No. 45 on Quesada's Inventory List] should

er been auctioned off in 1791; that bidder Micklas-

had lost his right to it for failing to fulfill the

es of the auction; and that by Royal Resolution of
1791 the house should be given to Castilla, who

ar the cost of the proceedings.

June 1, 1802, Notary Jose de Zubizarreta gave Casti-

1 possession of the house. For setting the bound-

astilla "brought along with him Don Jose Lorente,

seer of royal works, whose measurements resulted

north to south, 15 varas, and in depth, east to
varas." At last, Antonia de Avero's house was

the hands of her family.

mptly, Castilla enlarged the- property. From the.

rancisco Ruiz de]. Canto, his neighbor to the north,

ased land 37 varas wide in front and added it to
Avero lot.

January 28, 1804, Castilla and his wife, Doria Rafa-

andez, the first as proxy of the children, and the

,s daughter and heiress, of Dona Victoriana Guillen

lot and walls of a house on St. George Street to

rgeant Bilas Crespo. The said lot with the walls

same that had been given to Castilla and the heirs

f Doia Antonia de Avero in June 1802. It seems that the

Id Avero house had deteriorated to a completely uninhabi-

able state.

Under circumstances presently unknown, Castilla and the

their heirs re-acquired the property. At any rate, on August

1, 1815, they sold it to Josefa Montes de Oca. The property

as then bounded on the west by St. George Street; on the

outh by heirs of Juan Sgnchez; on the east by lands adjoin-

ng Castillo de San Marcos; and on the north by Juan Triay.

'he lot measured 52 varas in front and 91 varas in depth,
rnd there was a coquina house on it. It is unclear whether

his structure was the repaired or rebuilt "walls" of the old

house sold to Crespo in 1804 or a completely new construction.

A year later, on August 16, 1816, Josefa Montes de Oca
old the property to Isabel Rodriguez Romero. Isabel's

husbandd Manuel Romero, had passed away the previous January,

Leaving her with four minor children. The following Septem-

er 16, Isabel executed a mortgage bond to pay her children

:heir share of her husband's estate, pledging the house as

security. She described it as the house she had recently

purchased from Josefa Montes de Oca, and it was appraised

it 4474 pesos and 2 reales.7

The Romero heirs owned the property until March 10,

837. Then, one of them, Bibiana, sold a dwelling house and

.ot on St. George Street to Juan Carreras for $1020. This

propertyy was bounded on the west by the street; on the south


by house and lot of Seth K. Gifford; on the east by vacant

land; and on the north by John Triay. The lot measured 42

varas in front and 91 varas in depth. The said house and

lot were the same previously owned by Manuel de Castilla,

Josefa Montes de Oca, and Isabel Rodrfguez.28

The heirs of Juan Carreras deeded the house to Mary
Carreras as her share of her father's estate. From this

transfer down to 1946, the title secceeds through several


On April 24, 1946, Charles Cohen, Gertrude Baer, and

her husband, Max D. Baer, sold to Mr. Walter Frazer a prop-

erty on the east side of St. George Street. The boundary

began at a point 165 feet, 1 inch north of the northeast

corner of St. George and Cuna Streets, then ran north for

43 feet 3 inches, turned east for 100 feet, then south for

another 43 feet 3 inches, and finally turned west for an-
other 100 feet, to end at the point of.beginning.30

On November 17, 1952, Mr. Frazer and his wife trans-

ferred the property to Colonial St. Augustine, Inc., ap-

pending to the description in the deed the phrase "known
as Governor Salazar's mansion.'31

Governor Pablo de Hita Salazar indeed built a house

for himself in St. Augustine upon completion of his terms
of office in 1680. The location of such a house is still


Tho lnna i nail n t r^T.Tr V WO 0 T0 Q11- rt f a ^ v f a


'In 1682 Governor Salazar's house faced that of Sergeant Major

Salvador de Cigarroa. and both were near the Convent of San

Francisco, on the way (Charlotte Street?) between the convent

and the main guardhouse in the plaza.33

The English besieged St. Augustine in 1702. Promptly,

Governor Jose de Ziuiga y Cerda ordered the destruction of

all the houses "within a musket shot" of Castillo de San

Marcos, to prevent the enemy from using them as cover to

fire upon the fort. The "musket shot" reached in a semi-

circle some distance west of St. George Street and north of

Cuna Street. Upon withdrawal, the English likewise burned

the rest of the city. Only a few structures of very little
value were saved in the extreme south end of town.

Later an appraisal was made of all the houses lost by

St. Augustine residents during the siege. The list shows

first the houses burned by the Spaniards themselves within

a "musket shot" of the Castillo. In this group there appears

the house "of Pefialoza, which was appraised at 200 pesos,"

but there is none owned by Governor Salazar. The appraisal

list then shows the structures destroyed during the siege or

burned by the English. In this group there is indeed a "house

belonging to the heirs of Don Pablo de Hita Salazar" valued

at 1000 pesos, and another one "belonging to the heirs of
Sergeant Major Salvador de Cigarroa" appraised at 1300 pesos. 3

Obviously, the Salazar house was not among those located with-

in "musket shot" of the Castillo and hence not on the site at

39 St. George Street.


To sum up, the property at 39 St. George Street was

owned by Doia Antonia de Avero, her ancestors, and her

descendants from 1712 to 1804. But it was out of their

possession from 1763 to 1802. The property was never

owned by Don Pablo de Hita Salazar, whose house was in

another part of town. Therefore, the phrase added in the

deed to Colonial St. Augustine, Inc. and the Salazar arms

on the front or west facade have no validity.


1. Charles W. Arnade, "The Architecture of Spanish St. Au-
gustine," The Anericas, v. XVIII, No. 2 (October 1961),

2. Department of Agriculture, Field Note Division (Tallahas-
see, Florida). Bundle 320: City Lots, St. Augustine;
No. 19, "Doia Antonia de Avero, sobre reasumir sus casas
y posesiones con lo demas que de los autos consta, Flo-
rida, Aio de 1793," 86 folios, ff. 5-5v. Basic document
for this study; hereafter referred to as Avero.

3. Arnade, "The Architecture. ."

4. Piano de la Real Fuerza, Baluartes y LIneas de la Plaza
de San Agustin de la Florida, 22 de enero de 1764.

5. East Florida Papers (Library of Congress). Bundle 319:
Accounts of Jesse Fish, 1763-1770.

6. Archive General de Indias (Sevilla). Papeles Proceden-
tes de Cuba. Legajo 372: Sale of Properties to Jesse
Fish, July 1764.

7. See Note 2.

8. U. S., Congress, report by Alexander Hamilton in May 1824
(Cespedes to Galvez, May 8, 1785), Report No. 158, 18th
Cong., ist Sess.

9. This study concerns the property at 39 St. George Street.
For the history of one of two other Avero properties,
Antonia's "little house," see El Escribano (January 1963),


lA D~~

ae also
t. Augus
" F ori
1-34, es



Charles W
,tine Fami:
*da Histor,
specially ;

Ir de la C:


4. St. Johns County Judge's Office (St. Augustine). Es-
crituras, 1803-1804, ff. 359-360, January 28, 1804.

5. East Florida Papers (Library of Congress). Escrituras,
1815-1816, f. 130, August 21, 1815.

6. East Florida Papers (Library of Congress). Escrituras,
1815-1816, ff. 356v-358v, August 16, 1816.

7. East Florida Papers (Library of Congress). Testamentary
Proceedings. Inventories on the death of Don Manuel Ro-
mero, January 25, 1816.

8. St. Johns County Records (St. Augustine). Deed Book M,
p. 254.

9, St. Johns County Records (St. Augustine). Deed Book V,
p. 156.

0 St. Johns County Records (St. Augustine). Deed .Book 158,
p. 55.

1. St. Johns County Records (St. Augustine). Deed Book 202,
p. 421.

2. P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of
Florida, Gainesville. Stetson Collection. AGI 54-5-
11/74, Don Pablo de Hita Salazar of Florida to the
crown, St. Augustine, December 15, 4680, 14 ff. I

3. SC, AGI 54-5-11/85, Governor Juan Marquez Cabrera of
Florida to the crown, St. Augustine, January 28, 1682,
29 ff.; SC, AGI 54-5-12/77, Governor Diego de Quiroga y
Losada of Florida to the crown, St. Augustine, August 16,
1689, 71 ff.; SC, AGI 58-2-3/11, Papers,re case and
accounts of Sergeant Major Pedro Benedit Horruytiner
concerning irregularities in situado collection, St. Au-
gustine, June 14, 1680 [misdated 1680-1689], 133 ff.

'4. Charles W. Arnade, The Siege of St. hugustine in 1702
(Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1959), 41-43,

15. SC, AGI 58-1-28/66, Governor Francisco de Cgrcoles y
Martfnez of Florida to the crown, St. Augustine, August
13, 1709, 28 ff., enclosing the appraisals of the houses
destroyed in St. Augustine during the 1702 siege.


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