STATE OF FLORIDA
HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
P.O. BOX 1987
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL 82084
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Geoe Fireone Willam R. Adams
Secretary of State Director
July 21, 1981
The Ponte Vedra Recorder, Inc.
527 Rutlie Drive
Ponte Vedra, FL 32082
Dear Sir or Madam:
As one who is involved with the preservation, restoration and interpre-
tation of St. Augustine's historic buildings on a daily professional basis,
I am compelled to answer directly the criticisms raised by Mr. Bill Daniell
in your article of July 10, and to clear up several points of misinformation
for your readers.
Mr. Daniell cites several structures on St. George Street in the Restor-
ation Area as examples of 18th century buildings somehow "turned into,"
respectively, 1890, 1979 and 1830 buildings. (One, the Arrivas House, has
even been transported to the Midwest by Mr. Daniell.) Leaving aside the
question of where Mr. Daniell derived such absurd dates as 1890 and 1979,
it is important for citizens and visitors alike to understand that these
buildings have been restored to periods in their histories which will allow
the preservation of as much of their original fabric as possible and still
maintain the historic character of the area. The Spanish Inn which he men-
tions, for instance, was a tiny two-room stone structure in the mid-18th
century. (Though it was probably not built as early as 1740, as Mr. Daniell
says.) "Restoration" to that time would actually have involved the demolition
of one of St. Augustine's most important buildings and the reconstruction of
what Mr. Daniell refers to as "primitive American architecture."
The later Victorian structures, which he describes as "standing in the
way of a unified district," do reflect important, if not unique, architectural
elements of St. Augustine. Their presence on north St. George Street would be
admittedly out of place, but they too have their own place in St. Augustine's
history and its neighborhoods today. After all, less than 10 percent of the
structures within the boundaries of the old "walled city" date from the colonial
period, and many of these have been irretrievably expanded and remodelled.
It is the criticism of the National Trust for Historic Preservation by
both Mr. Daniell and Mrs. Rachel Welch which is most disturbing of all, however.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Maj. Gen. Henry McMillan (Ret.) JulioGrabiel Mark E. Fretwell
Chairman Vice-chairman Secretary-Treasurer
Lawrence L. Lewis, Jr. John D. Bailey Michael V. Gannon
Editor, Ponte Vedra Recorder, Inc.
July 21, 1981
The National Trust is the largest private preservation organization in the
United States, and has worked tirelessly for several decades on behalf of
America's historic architecture of all periods. It has no preference for
"pretty" Victorian architecture, as they claim, but does adhere to the high-
est professional standards in promoting accurate restoration--standards also
maintained by the State of Florida through its Historic St. Augustine Preser-
vation Board. Mr. Daniell's and Mrs. Welch's criticism of the National Trust
on such shallow grounds reveals that they share a common ignorance of its aims
and methods, and thus of preservation in general.
As these newly-appointed members of the Historic Architectural Review
Board begin their duties, let us hope they do their homework better in the
future, so they can indeed help to "put the history back into preservation,"
as Mr. Daniell insists. In any case, we hope Mr. Daniell does not really
share the commitmentn" (as your article described it) to St. Augustine of
his ancestor Col. Robert Daniell, who came to the city in 1702 with Governor
James Moore of South Carolina. On that little visit Moore and his English
comrades completely burned and levelled St. Augustine, destroying every
building except the Castillo de San Marcos.
Robert C. Stewart