This building, originally a small 18th century one-story coquina
house, has a long history; its original walls are still visible on part of
the front and north side. The living-room with fireplace was added in the
19th century, and the second story applied early in this century. The
kitchen-dining room was once separate but is now incorporated into the
overall structure. Leased in 1957 by Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Bath, it was
completely remodeled to resemble a typical 18th century rural northern
Spanish inn, and was opened to the public in July of 1959. In 1966 the
building and its contents were purchased by St. Augustine Restoration, Inc.
With the few exceptions stated below, all furnishings are repro-
ductions of period antiques, made in Spain specifically for this building.
Seen in the vestibule as one enters is an antique candle-stand and
a reproduction in tile of a famous Spanish painting depicting Columbus re-
porting to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Barcelona upon returning
from his first voyage.
To the left is the principal guest room for very important patrons.
Matching the massiveness of the canopied bed is a tall wardrobe, a stan-
dard feature in all Spanish buildings of the era, since closets were unknown.
Heat, when necessary, came from hot coals in the brass brazier. The
early 19th century rug has a heraldic crest in the center. On the wash-
stand can be seen a pitcher and bowl of soldered tin, painted red and gold.
The double-eagle frame on the mirror symbolizes the Hapsburg dynasty,
which ruled Spain from 1516 to 1700. Framed prints show traditional
costumes from different regions of Spain. The copper bed-warmer, the
candelabra, and the inlaid arcade chair are antiques.
To the right of the vestibule is a large room with fireplace and
a conversation nook beyond it. A rug dated 1800, the candelabrum, and
the fireplace tools are historic items, the remainder reproductions.
This double area served as the reception room or lounge for male guests.
Overlooking it is a portrait of St. Augustine's founder, Pedro Menendez,
copied on tile from the famous original by the Italian master Titian. The
small stools are for cock-fight bettors, who straddled them "backwards"
and rested elbows on the horizontal piece while leaning forward and toss-
ing coins into the arena as additional bets if their favorite seemed to be
winning. A massive chest on detached feet served as both storage center
and bench. Above and flanking it are portraits of King Philip II (Spanish
monarch at the time St. Augustine was settled in 1565), his third wife
Elizabeth, and daughter Catherine, all copied from originals in the Prado
Museum by Prof. Jacinto del Caso of Madrid in 1958 especially for this
building; so also were the Ferdinand and Isabella portraits, from originals
rendered at the time of their marriage when he was 18, she 19. The tiny
chest on the table is a miniature nuptial "hope chest" of the time, used
for jewelry in a private home but in a room like this probably held straws
for transferring a flame from the fireplace to a gentleman's pipe or to
ignite candles or oil lamps. The long benches were always used in inns,
to accommodate more people at less cost and space than chairs could have.
Featured in the hallway is a rare antique Italian relief-carved
drop-leaf table (probably 18th century), an engraving of Menendez with
name misspelled, another of the Moorish "Tower of Gold" in Seville, a
typical early 19th century Spanish floral rug, and a tall thin serving chest
for silver and linens.
In the custom of the times the women's sitting-room or lounge
is separate and in the quieter interior of the inn. Antique items here are
the flax-spinning wheel, a stringed "bandurria", dated 1740, on the wall,
the brass lamp with shield, and rug with the Hapsburg double-eagle insig-
nia in the center surrounded by peacocks, symbols of eternity. At the
left of the entrance is a typical "vargueino" or drop-front portable desk,
set atop a storage chest. Opposite stands a huge carved cabinet for dishes.
Heat for the room is provided by the Moorish-style brazier. Stools are
for keeping feet up off the cold tabby floor. A large mirror permits last
minute adjustments to hair and makeup before going in to dinner or depar-
ture from the inn.
The middle bedroom, somewhat less ornate than the V. I. P.
chamber but still furnished for noble tastes of the 18th century, is
dominated by the ornate bed. However, the huge old wardrobe is genuinely
antique, as is the inlaid arcade-back chair. Authentic reproductions are
the wash-stand with towel bars, the bed-table, stools, brazier, and mir-
ror. Nineteenth century items are the costume prints, painted tin pitcher
and bowl (green, in this instance), the crucifix over the bed, and the
Most noticeable in the rear bedroom is the beautifully reproduced
"cathedral" bed, so called for its resemblance to the retable behind Spanish
cathedral altars. Since no 18th century buildings in Spain, inns or other-
wise, had closets, garments were hung in a wardrobe (as in the middle bed-
room), on racks with lathe-turned pegs (as in this bedroom); or left in the
traveler's leather trunk (as seen at the foot of the bed). A man's jacket
hangs on the wall-rack here. Essentials are the corner wash-stand, tin
pitcher and bowl (now yellow), double-eagle mirror, wooden bucket, and
iron candelabrum. Accessories include costume prints, towel rack;: and
19th century crucifix figure on a modern cross.
At the rear of the inn's first floor opens the large dining-room,
furnished for serving food and keeping it warm; actual cooking, however,
was customary, men's and women's tables are apart--the latter beside the
window for a view of the patio and its flowers, the former with its accom-
panying bench across the room. A huge fireplace with crane and kettle
kept both edibles and diners warm, and was surrounded by the equipment
to do it--copper cooking vessels, stirring spoons and strainer, plus cho-
colate pots and tin spice-boxes on the mantel. Flanking it are the wine
vessels--a pig skin full of ordinary wine, casks for better grades. On the
opposite wall two glass-enclosed candle sconces illuminate the 19th century
Spanish cuckoo clock. Dominating the south wall is the oldest piece, an
18th century dish-cupboard (called a "confesionario" due to its resem-
blance to a grilled confessional in a Catholic church) filled with colored
majolica and Moorish-type copper-luster-glazed pottery, of modern make
but traditional in appearance. Part of any such setting are the huge cop-
per vessels and the heavy brass mortar-and-pestle set in wooden rack for
grinding of spices.
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When weather permitted, lounging and even dining could be
accommodated in the patio; if the former, dinner indoors wais announced
by ringing the six-bell wheel. Porous water-jars, to keep the contents
cool by evaporation of seepage, stand conveniently in the rack, while
water itself came via the modern reproduction well-head with its locked
cover to prevent contamination. At the end of the courtyard stands a
huge historic-type olive oil storage jar. Above it on a bracket is an
18th century carved-wood statue of the town's namesake, St. Augustine.
At the rear of the patio a stairway mounts to the second floor, which in
a real Spanish rural inn would have contained the owner's apartment (at
the front) and dormitories for male and female servants of noble travelers
or for guests of meager income and low social standing.
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