THE DE MESA-SANCHEZ HOUSE:
HISTORY, RESTORATION AND INTERPRETATION
I. SYNOPSIS OF BUILDING HISTORY
A. First Spanish Period, 1763-64
1. Owner Antonio de Mesa ( ? 1766) Born in Veracruz, Mexico;
died in Havana. Married, seven children. Employed as a Shore
Guard in St. Augustine (customs official)
Structure: One-story stone house on St. George Street
B. British Period, 1764-84
1. (1764-68) Owner: William Walton ( ? 1768) Resident of
New York but fourth largest property owner in St. Augustine
in British Period (1765). Head of major export company which
supplied St. Augustine.
Structure: Walton made no changes
2. (1768-71) Property reverted to British crown
3. (1771-84) Owner: Joseph Stout. Native of Philadelphia.
Lived on Lake George south of St. Augustine but owned property
in town. Married, four children born while in East Florida.
Prosperous indigo planter. Moved to Bahamas in 1784-85.
Structure: Stout probably enlarged the structure to the south
but probably did not add second floor.
C. Second Spanish Period, 1784-1821
1. (1784-1802) Owner: don Juan Sanchez. Born in Puerto Real,
Andalusia, Spain. Married, two children, one stepchild. Em-
ployed as Chief Master Caulker of the Royal Works. Later pur-
chased schooner for use in coastal trade and with Havana.
* For a detailed history see Mike Scardaville's report, "Historical Outline
of the DeMesa-Sanchez (Spanish Inn) Site" (1978)
(1803-1832) Owner: heirs of Juan Sanchez
Structure: Sanchez apparently added a partial second floor (west
wing). Rocque map (1788) shows a three-room stone house with an
outbuilding (kitchen) and loggia. By 1791 second floor over entire
building. Kitchen may have been enclosed by 1821 or 1833.
D. American Period, 1821-present
1. Owners: From 1832 (post-Sanchez heirs) to the present there
have been 21 owners.
Structure: Kitchen possibly enclosed between 1835 and 1837
(Evidence is increased sale price) Various uses for the building
but no substantial alterations since that period.
II. RESTORATION OF THE BUILDING
A. Decision to restore structure to its appearance ca. 1837. Rationale:
1. Preserve as much of the original fabric as possible. Various
documentary and architectural evidence points to 1830's as
period of enlargement and renovation of building:
a.) Sale price of 1837
b. Vertical-sawn boards and cut nails in rafters and joists
c. Renovation of building unlikely after Sanchez's death in
1802, until after his heirs sell the house in.1832
d. Greek Revival architectural elements (roughly 1820-60),
including mantels, door and window trim, ashlar scoring,
evidence of large ceiling molding
2. Restoration to earlier period would involve demolition of much
of East Wing and complete reconstruction of freestanding
3. Large amount of information available regarding the appearance
of the building in the 1830's
B. Paint Color
Determined by microscopic analysis of scrapings taken from walls
known to have been added ca. 1830's. Matched to universal Munsell
Spectrographic analysis performed on paint samples, which could
not reveal definitive age of the paint, but did reveal its chemical
III. INTERPRETATION OF THE BUILDING
A. Combination historic house museum and (tentatively) space for
1. Historic house museum
Will seek to depict a home of a middle-class Eastern family
recently relocated in St. Augustine in the late 1830's.
House recently remodeled and furnished according to tastes
and means of the day, with some older pieces. Furnishings
will be, as much as possible, authentic period antiques.
Interpretation will center around daily family life and will
hopefully include a strong emphasis on commercial life of the
2. Museum exhibits (NEH grant submitted). To be housed in
several rooms. Will include a slide-tape presentation
focusing upon research and restoration of house (perhaps also
serving as a general orientation to San Agustin Antiguo).
Will also include panel and case exhibits focusing upon
different owners or residents of the house between 1763-1845,
using their lives or careers as starting points for discussions
of social and economic life of St. Augustine. Funding for
exhibits will probably depend upon awarding of grant.
For more information, see the following reports on file in Government House:
Scardaville, Michael, "Historical Outline of the DeMesa-Sanchez (Spanish
Inn) Site" (1978)
Fisher and Shephard, "Research Report: Restoration of the DeMesa-Sanchez
House for the St. Augustine Preservation Board" (1977)
Deagan, Kathleen, "1977 Excavations of the deMesa-Sanchez House Interior"
Bostwick, John, "Further Excavations in the deMesa-Sanchez House,
Harper, Robert, "Interpretive Furnishing Proposal for the DeMesa-
Sanchez House" (1979)
Stewart, Robert, NEH grant proposal (1980)
In addition, we have on file literally piles of photographs, slides,
drawings, maps, furnishing lists, floor plans, paint samples, etc., etc.