PAN AMERICAN CENTER
The Pan American Center is devoted to the culture and history
of Latin America, with whom St. Augustine shares a common Hispanic
heritage. The objects in this building represent thousands of years of
Indian tradition, conquered and changed by the invading Spaniards in
the sixteenth century.
The exhibits on the first floor are reminders of the Indian
cultures which developed and flourished in the New World before
the time of Columbus. Items from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala,
Costa Rica and Peru reveal the artistic and technological achievements
of the peoples who inhabited Latin America so long ago. The ceramic
vessels and figurines display the wonderful ability of Indian artisans
to reproduce life forms and exacting geometric designs with nothing
more than clay and natural paints. The textiles, which are Peruvian--
600-900 years old--tell us much about the richly decorated clothing the
Indians wore. The cotton fabrics and the natural dyes reveal much about
pre-historic agriculture. These textiles tell us also of the great skill
attained by these craftsmen, for the pieces are carefully woven or
crocheted. Furthermore, stone and metal were cut and shaped into
forms which suggest objects of worship or popular motifs of adornment.
This collection of pre-Columbian art can give only a brief
glimpse of the complex and varied social organizations which existed
in Latin America long before Europeans set foot in the New World.
The second floor contains objects from eighteenth and nine-
teenth-century Latin America. The Spaniards changed Indian culture
to such an extent that the designs and motifs seen on the first floor all
but vanished from the work of Indian artisans under Spanish rule.
Religion, which played such an important role in Spanish life, is
mirrored in the carved saints and elaborate furnishings on this floor.
Religious themes characterize much of Latin American colonial art
200 years ago. Nevertheless, the native skill and ingenuity of the
Indian craftsmen who shaped these objects pervades every artifact.
Imitating the great European manufactories and studios, Latin
America.developed its own craft systems and produced an enormous
wealth of commercial, domestic and artistic goods. The paintings,
sculpture and furnishings on this floor reflect in a small way, the
great changes wrought by Spanish masters on the new continent.
These modest collections have been assembled by the Historic
St. Augustine Preservation Board through gifts, purchases and loans
in order to give the visitor a view of the world of which St. Augustine
was a part for more than three centuries.
The building is a reconstruction of the Marin-Hassett House.
The floor plan is based on archaeological excavations of the site and
the original hearth may be seen in the west room on the first floor.
There being scant evidence about the above-ground appearance, the
house was reconstructed according to practices employed in house
building in the late eighteenth century. The coquina walls, covered
with plaster, and the heavy wooden joists reflect these colonial techniques.
Period doors were brought from Mexico and can be seen at several
entrances on the first floor. The rejas, street balcony and southern
loggia are architectural elements characteristic of colonial St. Augustine.
Funds for the reconstruction were donated by American corporations
involved in Latin American commerce. The Hispanic Garden was con-
structed through the efforts of state and local garden clubs and a generous
bequest of Mrs. Alfred I. DuPont. The Hispanic Garden is situated in
the original orchard and garden maintained by Father Thomas Hassett in
the late eighteenth century. Highlighting the garden is a bronze statue
of Queen Isabella of Spain, created by Anna Hyatt Huntington whose world-
famous works were often based on Spanish themes.
The Pan-American Center and the Hispanic Garden are intended
to call to the minds of our visitors the Hispanic heritage of St. Augustine,
and provide a brief look at the peoples, cultures and countries to whom
St.Augustine was tied for the greater part of her history.