DE MESA-SANCHEZ HOUSE: OUTLINE
FOR A GUIDED TOUR
1. Room 104
Welcome and introductory remarks
A. Welcome the visitorss. DeMesa-Sanchez House dates originally from
before 1763; probably built in 1750's.
B. Began as a one-room structure on St. George Street; owned by Antonio
de Mesa in 1763 (first documented owner)
C. Grew in series of remodeling and additions through British (1764-84),
Second Spanish (1784-1821) and Territorial Periods (1821-45). Major
renovations done by Juan Sanchez during the Second Spanish Period.
uote #1 Building gained its present size and appearance by about 1837 and is
now restored to that appearance. Pink painted stucco applied at that
D. Although we have identified all the owners of the building throughout
its history, we do not believe the owners of the house throughout the
1830's and even at the time of its renovation about 1837 actually
lived there. We know very little about who was even living there.
So we are displaying it as a rented building, perhaps a duplex.
(Many houses in St. Augustine were rented or broken up into boarding
rute !2 houses in the Territorial Period. Homeowners also took in boarders.)
E. This is an imaginary exhibit based upon what we know about life in
St. Augustine in the 1830's, what kinds of furnishings were available
and used here, and how we think the different rooms might have been
used at that time. We are not displaying the life of any particular
individual or family, but a composite image of the kinds of people
moving to St. Augustine for business and health reasons from the North.
11. Room 101
A. Multi-purpose room: parlor/waiting room. Public-oriented space where
different boarders could gather; where business could be conducted or
customers wait; where games could be played. Informal, sparsely
furnished, older style furnishings.
B. Painted floor cloth in a checkerboard pattern. French toile curtains
both older styles but still in use in 1830's. Floorcloth could have
been there before 1830's; curtains might have been adapted from bed-
hangings brought from the North and found to be unnecessary in warm
C. Games such as cards and chess were popular.
D. Argand'lamps set in front of mirror to reflect light throughout room.
Could be moved elsewhere in the house as needed.
E. Slipcover used to cover uncomfortable horsehair upholstered couch.
Cooler. Kept dust from street off couch.
III. Room 103 #
A. Office. Crude, sparsely furnished. Most business might have actually
taken place across hall. Wall-to-wall straw matting typical.
B. Businessman involved primarily in land speculation (buying/selling
uote #3 property in city; buying/selling old Spanish land grants throughout
ct::u:,crci:w] activity in Terri tAri:i St. Autsstne') e Othcr invest;r-nt
,IH, Lc' -"opportunities could have included cani-ai cur,.pany; railroad to St. Johns
River to replace stagecoach; construction of new seawall and new build-
note L:5 C. Georgia table, ca. 1835-40. The kind of crude furniture which could
have been purchased locally from a carpenter or another individual.
IV. Room 106
A. Storage room.
B. Housed trunks, barrels, etc., used to bring down family's belongings
from North. Lack of light precludes much other use.
C. Older window (dates from 1780's Sanchez renovation). Later owner placed
stairway directly in front of window.
V. Room 107
A. Dining room. Sunny room off kitchen originally was part of an open
loggia or porch until enclosed before 1820.
B. Table set for a light lunch of soup, bread, coffee, fruit. Soup might
be fish or venison. Fruit locally grown. Oranges just beginning to
recover from severe freeze of 1835. Flour for bread had to be imported.
C. Tableware is reproduction of ordinary, popular early 19th century styles
and patterns. Remainder would be kept in large sideboard.
D. Painted and stenciled chairs popular in this period. Could have been
special-ordered or perhaps purchased locally. The homemade high chair
was made here in Florida and is representative of crude vernacular
furniture made locally.
iote #6 E. Early 19th century print shows view of Minorcan family. Minorcans were
remnants of Turnbull's New Symrna colony. Lived in St. Augustine through
Second Spanish Period. Still a large population in city today, though
they have long since inter-married and become integrated into community.
VI. Room 108
A. Servant's room; might double as pantry. Cupboard hung from ceiling to
keep out insects.
B. Servant would be responsible for infant while parents off sailing to
Anastasia Island for a picnic or gone to a Bible society meeting.
VII. Room 206
A. Children's bedroom. Also earlier room which opened onto balcony. (Note
the "Dutch-type" door; used to get more light into the room.)
B. Many children could be accommodated by using trundle bed. The parents
would have to watch carefully to see that their boys did not sneak out
(a la Tom Sawyer) onto the very convenient Avero House balcony.
VIII. Room 202
A. Master bedroom
B. Use of mosquito netting common in South, especially for a sickly wife.
The potty commode would "have been brought with the family and kept
ote /7 handy. This one was made in New England about 1810 and features painted
imitation inlay and an original chamber pot.
C. Rug is a reproduction of a deteriorated original in our collection.
Reproduction was hand-hooked by a former staff member is is accurate in
the smallest details color, material and stitches.
S i'ar]or. '-iv.it cL ic :.. ut probably usec for special]
formal occasions. Finest roo;n ii, tie house; features original
simple but tasteful Grecian woodwork-style that was popular at
B. Unfinished floors were probably covered by mats and area rugs.
The rug here was woven by our weaver using linen and wool in
typical colors of the period. A rug such as this might have
been made back up North and brought South.
C. In a house with as little color as we know existed in this one,
colorful curtains might have been used to enliven its plain walls.
These chinz curtains reproduce a known 1830's printed pattern.
)uote #9 D. Leisure activities might center around either the central table
with its oil lamp or one of the two musical instruments in the
room. The small melodeon (pump organ) and the piano forte are
both original and have been restored. Instruments such as these
could have provided music for a ball or tea.
E. Finer furnishings such as the sofa and secretary might come from
hundreds of miles by steamer packet. Sofa is Empire style, about
1830, and is signed by a New Hampshire cabinetmaker. Secretary
made in Virginia or Kentucky about 1825; wood is cherry; original
leaded glass a rare feature.
F. Other pieces, such as fine Hepplewhite armchair, might have come
from closer areas. This one made in Charleston about 1800. Trade
with Charleston was carried on through Colonial and Territorial
G. Unusual prisms on mantle doubled as candlesticks at night.
H. Painting is unsigned European piece of late 18th century (probably
English). A work of art such as this would have been a treasured
heirloom brought by a young family to frontier Florida. (Though
we do have records of a surprising amount of art in St. Augustine
homes, and later the city itself would attract working artists.)
X. Concluding remarks and escort to front door
A. Point out that rest of house being reserved for exhibits and an
audio-visual presentation, which will trace the history and
evolution of the house.
B. Note changes from older Spanish and British Periods:
3) Way of life still somewhat isolated but far more
C. Suggestions here of industrialization and far more extensive
connections with outside world.
D. Florida became a state in 1845. St. Augustine remained basically
a small winter retreat until Flagler era.
Robert C. Stewart