We extend a cordial invitation to you, your family
and friends to join us for a glimpse of an older way of
life, a step back into history. There is no charge for
DIRECTIONS TO SANCHEZ HOUSE
Out U.S. I South (Phillips Highway) to St. Augus-
tine. After reaching the city, take the Historic Route
to Cathedral Street at the Bridge of Lions, which is
located just past the Matanzas Fort. Turn right, one
block to St. George Street. Turn right on St. George
and go about two and one-half blocks.
There is a parking lot across the street from the
House, with meters. You may also park in the rear
of the building and enter the courtyard through the
iron gates. Admission to the House is through the
In 1809 a wealthy shipowner and cattleman went
to Charleston, South Carolina, to claim his bride and
take her to St. Augustine, Florida, where he had just
built a home for her. He was Francis Xavier Sanchez
and his bride was Mary Hill, lately of Virginia.
When the Independent Life and Accident Insur-
ance Company, and Herald Life Insurance Company,
Jacksonville, Florida, bought the Sanchez House in
1968, it required extensive renovation, both inside
and out. The exterior walls have been restored and
painted a brilliant white, while the shutters and
wrought iron gates are a contrasting black. From the
front balcony hang five colorful flags French,
Spanish, Old Glory, the Union Jack (British), and the
Confederate representing the different governments
which have claimed Florida.
The house is of coquina-masonry construction and
the general fabric of the building remains almost un-
changed from the time it was built. Each of the two
chimneys on either side of the house, which are made
of coquina up to the ceiling of the second floor and
completed with brick, serve fireplaces on both street
and second floors. These were the only matched pair
of chimneys in St. Augustine at that time.
The interior woodwork is American Colonial. Beams
are connected with wooden pegs and door frames are
made of four-inch square timbers joined by mortise
and tenon, also pinned together by wooden pegs. The
doors are accented with conservative but decorative
trims and mouldings. Windows and shutters are of
much the same detail, and good construction tech-
niques and craftmanship are very evident.
Enter through the wrought iron gates and walk into
yesterday. It will lead you to a typically Spanish gar-
den, serene and cool: no grass, coquina-paved court-
yard and mostly Florida shrubs and plants includ-
ing coontie (samie) palms, the roots of which were
used by the Indians like potatoes; two weeping elm
trees; azaleas (which are from China); vomitoria from
Florida, which is just as the name implies; and ilex, a
small leaf holly which grows from St. Augustine to
Under the arbors are handmade teak benches put
together with pegs. The original well still stands, need-
ing no restoration. At the pool, facing the house on
the right as you come in the gate, is a statue of Saint
Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century patron saint of
small animals and birds. Backing up to him is a statue
of Saint Fiacre, 7th Century patron saint of gardeners
A few steps up onto the back porch will lead us into
the house. Its floor plan consists of five rooms and a
central stair hall on the ground floor, and four rooms
and stair hall above. Wallpapers throughout the house
are copies of Colonial patterns, and the rugs are all
Persian, from 100 to 150 years old.
Mr. Jacob F. Bryan III, President of Independent
and Herald Life, personally selected each item for the
house, which has been furnished in keeping with the
American Colonial period of St. Augustine. (Mr. Bryan
is a member of the St. Augustine Restoration and Pre-
servation Committee, formed to protect and restore
antique landmarks in and around St. Augustine.
Through the group's efforts many buildings have been
To the right as you enter is the BIRCH BEDROOM.
Nothing in this room is later than early 19th Century.
The bed has round knobs at the head and foot, to
which ropes were tied for springs. The chairs are 18th
Century. There is an unusual washstand of pine and
birch with brass basin and pitcher which is original -
about 1820. Above it is a 17th Century mirror with a
very old picture at the top. Under the washstand is a
chamber pot, used in those days before toilets.
The chandelier is an exact copy of birch candle-
holders which were lowered by a chain, then brought
back up. Over the chest is a mirror with a brass rim
around the glass, which denotes it is very old. A secret
hiding place where wills, papers and jewelry were kept
is in the top of the chest. The outdoor candleholder is
around 1860, and the other candleholders are from
about 1790. The bedspread is a reproduction of a
popular pattern of the time.
Across the hall, to the left of the entrance, is the
MASTER BEDROOM. The hand-carved poster bed is
high, as were the original beds at that time. Note the
steps to get into the bed; under the lid of the middle
step one will find a chamber pot. On the bed is a
bedwarmer for cold nights, and a quilt that is about
100 years old. The Hepplewhite lampstand at the
bedside bears an old cooking oil lamp which is drip-
less so it cannot cause a fire; the light is in the lamp's
top part. Wallpaper and curtains are of matching
design. Cloth was cheaper than paper in that period,
and in many homes was used on walls.
The washstand has beautiful Hepplewhite inlaid
work, dated 1790. Royal Crown Derby pattern bowl
and basin are original with the washstand. In the far
corner sits a chair used by the lady of the house,
close to the sewing stand and the spool rack with
thread and pincushion, which dates back to the 18th
Century. On the stand is a double candleholder with
A bisque baby doll with original fine linen costume
lies in the large cradle, which dates back to about
1790. The small toy cradle, early 19th Century, holds
a doll whose feet are made of leather and sewn by
hand; she is wearing her original dress. In back of the
room sits an old clothes press cut down to fit into the
room. The chandelier, a copy of an old brass candela-
bra, is the only thing in this room which is a repro-
There is a Pennsylvania Dutch towel rack, about
18th Century, in the corner behind the door. Chest
and mirror, also antique, have been restored to like-
new condition. The rug in this room is about 100
Down the hall, on the right, is the AGENTS
ROOM. This room is used by Independent Life
agents in the St. Augustine area. Over the fireplace is
a map of the New World dated 1783; note it shows
Cape Canaveral, St. Augustine, Cumberland Island
and Matanzas Inlet. The clock is Early American
vintage, New England. Candleholders are late 18th
Century and are adjustable so the candle can be
pushed up and down.
The chandelier, a 17th or 18th Century candela-
bra, has been very ingeniously wired to hold electric
lights. It was lowered by chain to light the candles,
and pulled back up. The brass spittoon is early 19th
The RECORD ROOM, directly across the hall,
contains some of the oldest insurance documents in
the world. The Phoenix (wooden bird) over the fire-
place is a mythological bird supposed to rise out of
the flames of fire and start life anew, used by the
Phoenix Fire Insurance Company of London 1834.
On the wall is a picture of a shipwreck; this was
supposedly the first type of insurance sold by Lloyd's
Among the documents and records housed in this
room is a $3.00 bill used by the American Insurance
Company, dated January 14, 1883. Insurance
companies were allowed to issue currency in the
An 18th Century desk made in Belgium, circa
1790, has a statue of Saint Mathilda and Christ Child
in its niche. Called a gentleman's desk, it has many
secret compartments, and is lined with the original
silk cloth. The prayer bench is covered with the
About halfway up the beautifully carpeted stairs
is an iron hook in the ceiling. This was used at night
when the door had to be answered. So the wind
would not blow the candles out, they placed the
hanging candleholder on this hook. Upon returning
to the room, the holder was brought back and placed
upon the iron stand on the dresser in the GREEN
BEDROOM, which is at the top of the stairs and to
The beds are hand carved, three-quarter-size beds
cut down to fit into this room. The old night watch-
stand is quite unique. Men hung their watches in
these at night. Both chests of drawers a gentle-
man's and lady's were cut down to fit the room.
The chandelier is a signed original, and is of bronze
and brass, with bobeche to catch the candle drip-
The'gentleman's shaving stand in this room is origi-
nal Hepplewhite with a little bowl and pitcher, and an
adjustable mirror. The side drawer held razors; the
front side has a closed shelf for shaving soap. A fasci-
nating chair, held together entirely by wires, sits in
the corner. The 150-year-old rug is green, extremely
rare for a Persian rug.
As was the Spanish custom to minimize street
noises, the living and dining area are on the second
floor. On the brass heating stand in the LIVING
ROOM is an 18th Century hot water kettle. The silver
tea service is Georgian, the china tea service Stafford-
shire; coffee and dessert dishes came separately in
early days, as they were served in the drawing room.
In the corner is a 16th Century tilt-top table, and
on it is a European violin case shaped like a baby's
casket. The music stand, with adjustable candle-
holders, dates back to 16th Century. The child's
wicker chair is early 18th Century and the fire screen,
the oldest in the house, probably 1700.
The paintings are early 19th Century. The lower
large painting is of a castle in England, flanked on
each side by 1837 prints, one being of the Sleeping
Beauty. Above the castle is a portrait of a lady of
that period Mrs. Scott Moncrieff painted in 1841
by Sir Henry Rayburn, National Gallery of Scotland.
The three-cornered chairs are 1790 to 1820. Can-
dle stands are Hepplewhite, with early candelabra on
them. The sofa is a reproduction of a Sheraton sofa.
Dated by the dealer at 1790, the secretary-desk has
the original blown glass, and opens into a desk. Chan-
deliers in the dining room and living room are from a
matched pair of large standing candleholders taken
from an old French hotel in New Orleans and wired
as hanging chandeliers.
Furniture in the DINING ROOM is early French
Provincial, and has unusual carved woodwork. The
china is the old wet paste thumbprint design, with
thumb marks visible. This was usually ordered by the
colonists from a china factory in France. The candle-
holders with the cobalt blue trimmed shades on the
serving table are very old.
Two signed 18th Century French urns are on the
fireplace mantle under the candelabra. The bronze
mirrors on both rooms are solid hammered brass.
Note the silver plates among the serving plates. Usu-
ally the master and his wife or guest of honor were
the only ones who used these. The wine pourers are
from an early church, and were used for Communion
An old iron toaster sits on the hearth. The dessert
set on the table is original Sandwich cranberry glass -
very uneven in application and colors. All the silver
is coin silver, which was hammered from silver coins
at that time. The glass is old pressed glass; the flower
container in the middle of the table is around 1860.
Made so it will not tip, the wine decanter on the
table is a ship's decanter. Candelabra on the table are
unique: silver combined with Waterford glass stems.
The type of plaster work in the ceiling was cus-
tomary in Colonial homes, while folding doors similar
to those between the living room and dining room
can be found in old homes in Savannah, Charleston,
Evidently Mary Hill's American ideas were being
incorporated into the ceilings, woodwork and furnish-
ings as Sanchez built his Spanish home. The result is
a delightful blend of Spanish and Early American
styles and customs, which contributed a great deal to
the charm and elegance of this luxuriously-appointed
home. It was a very gracious and appealing period in
history, one in which it was possible to live in con-
siderable comfort despite the lack of many conven-
iences we take for granted today.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey back to an
earlier day, and that you and your friends will return
again and again to savor the warmth and beauty of
From MAY through OCTOBER (closed Thursdays),
Sanchez House is open during the following hours:
Mon., Tues., Wed., Sat.: 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday: 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
From NOVEMBER through APRIL (closed Thurs-
days), Sanchez House is open during these hours:
Mon., Tues., Wed., Fri., Sat.: 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.