Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Title: [Letters to editor of St. Augustine record re Bill Daniel's efforts to discredit the restoration program]
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 Material Information
Title: Letters to editor of St. Augustine record re Bill Daniel's efforts to discredit the restoration program
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Physical Description: Correspondence
Language: English
Creator: Stewart, Robert C.
Publication Date: 1981
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
43 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
de Mesa-Sanchez House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 43 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.896429 x -81.313225
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091263
Volume ID: VID00043
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B7-L6

Full Text


P.O. BOX 1987
(904) 824-3355
George Firestone William R. Adams
Secretary of State Director

October 15, 1981

St. Augustine Record
154 Cordova Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

Dear Sir:

Enough is enough.

The continuing effort by Mr. Bill Daniell to discredit the restoration
program in St. Augustine without himself offering any constructive contri-
bution seems to me an amazing exercise in pure spite. His solicitation of
an editorial from WTLV, Channel 12 in Jacksonville, is a new low point of
this senseless personal vendetta.

Let me answer the specific criticisms he has directed toward the restor-
ation of the deMesa-Sanchez House, known for many years as the "Old Spanish
Inn." Maybe, just maybe, we can set the record straight once and for all.

The,Spanish Inn, for all its quaint charm, was a theatrical stage set
not derived from any time in St. Augustine's history. There was no inn in St.
Augustine during the Spanish occupation; it did not even represent an accurate
image of'an inn in Spain. I would remind you that we at the Preservation Board
are engaged in the re-creation of reasonably accurate impressions of the city's
past, not promulgating myth and falsehood. We are an educational institution,
not Disneyworld. For example, you probably could not find anyone at the Preser-
vation Board who particularly likes the pink color. But we were directed to it
by a professional historic paint analyst who defined this as the correct color
for the building. The odd tastes of our ancestors are not subject to critique
according to our modern tastes.

When will Mr. Daniell cease describing the restoration of the deMesa-
Sanches House as transforming a 1740 building into a Victorian building? In
1740, if the building was standing at all, it was a one room house. Check
the 1764 Puente Map, Mr- Daniell. The house .is restored to its appearance
of the 1830's, the earliest period to which the building could be restored
and still preserve as much of the original structure as possible, along with

Maj. Gen. Henry McMillan (Ret) Julio Gmbiel Mark E. Fretwell
OCairman Vicsdcmru Seatary-Trearue
Nornn L Lockwood Lawrece L. Lewis, It. John D. Basey Midchel V. Gannon

Editor, St. Augustine Record
October 15, 1981
Page 2

what little early interior trim still remained. Restoring the building to
any earlier period would have necessitated removing the unmistakable Greek
Revival trim. By any restoration standards, this would be unforgiveable.
Victorian? I know of no architectural historian who would describe the de-
Mesa-Sanchez House as "Victorian." It is actually astylar the combination
of Spanish and Anglo-American architectural traditions concocted in a series
of additions and remodeling which took place prior to 1840.

If we have preserved the original fabric, the question still remains about
what we have put on the building. In order to restore walls, windows, doors,
etc., that were long gone but which we knew were there, we obviously were for-
ced to conform to construction materials and building codes of today. Where
we had to use modern materials they were employed to meet building codes and
provide for visitors' safety (as in the use of plexiglass next to the front
door). We regret the unappealing aesthetic nature of this material, but we
do not apologize for it. In light of the enormous architectural perversions
which have been tolerated in the restored area, we question the fairness of
criticizing the State for its own need to sometimes adapt its work, just like
any private property owner, to legal and financial constraints. And more to
the point, can Mr. Daniell, with his plastic flower pots, television antenna,
window air conditioner, metal window-screen clamps, dangling tin gutter and
asphalt shingle roof on his Toy Museum, cast stones at our plexiglass?

Mr. Daniell made a particular point in his television interview of dis-
playing photos of the deMesa-Sanchez House from the turn of the century and
the 1950's. Well, for those readers interested in dropping by our offices
at Government House, I shall be happy to show them a complete series of photo-
graphs of the building beginning in the 1870's and extending to the present.
The photographs show the evolution and gradual deterioration of the
building, including the deliberate removal of the building's stucco in the
20th century. The quaint exposed coquina of the building was not a Spanish
characteristic, but a product of modern tourist promoters.

Finally, the innuendos raised by Mr. Daniell regarding the disposition
of the reproduction furniture from the Spanish Inn are just slightly short
of libelous. As Curator of the Board's collections, I am subject to yearly
audits in which these and other selected objects are located and examined.

Editor, St. Augustine Record
October 15, 1981
Page 3

If Mr. Daniell would ask to see our records rather than insinuate dark mis-
deeds on our part, he could be reassured that the furnishings are safely
in storage or on view elsewhere in the restoration area. Meanwhile I await
an apology from Mr. Daniell.

Robert C. Stewart
Museum Curator


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