Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 10 – Lot 1
Title: It Happened Here
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: It Happened Here
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 10 – Lot 1
Physical Description: Clipping
Language: English
Publication Date: 1972
Copyright Date: Public Domain
Physical Location:
Box: 4
Divider: B10 L1 - Dr. Peck History
Folder: Block 10 Charlotte St.
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
143 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Dr. Peck House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Peña-Peck House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 143 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.893507 x -81.312774
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094115
Volume ID: VID00057
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B10-L1

Full Text
The St. Augustine Record, July 29-30,

Spain's Royal Treasurer,
Don Juan Esteban de Pena,
during his tenure from 1742 to
1763, lived in a house at the
corner of St. George and
Treasury streets, and tran-
sacted much business there
although the Treasury itself
had been moved to the Castillo
in 1702, when the retreating
British had burned the original
building on the site. De Pena
did not think much of his of-
ficial residence, because he
wrote to Spain bewailing its
deficiencies and asking for
more money to acquire
something suitable to his rank.
When the British took over in
1763, he departed with the rest
of Spanish officialdom and left
his property in the hands of
John Gordon, an associate of
Jesse Fish, so that it became
another in a long list of local
houses whose titles became
hopelessly muddled during the
British regime.
was in Gordon's hands, he
rented it to the distinguished
South Carolinan, who became
the lieutenant governor, Dr.
James Moultrie. Dr. Moultrie
used the house as a base until
he could occupy his mansion on
the Matanzas River seven
miles south of town, which he
named Bella Vista, a
showplace complete with
gardens, fish ponds and even a
bowling green. When Gordon
died, the de Pena house was
acquired by William Clarke,
one of a trio of canny Scotsmen,
who got rich selling guns to the
Indians from the "Tory
paradise" of East Florida. The
Spaniards returned in 1783 and
with them came Antonio
Fernandez who claimed the
house for de Pena's widow.

There was a long and com-
plicated lawsuit and the
property finally reverted to the
crown in 1791.
By this time, like so
many other St. Augustine
buildings, it was sadly run
down, and was used mainly
as a slave barracks. A new
governor, de Quesada, took
steps to spruce up the town
and authorized the sale of
ruined houses for 5 per cent
down and a promise to
make much-needed
A colorful Irishmen, Carlos
Howard, who was an ac-
complished linguist as well as a
brave soldier, bought the de
Pena house, but promptly sold
it to a government official,
Domingo Rodriquez de Leon, a
notorious rake and
homewrecker who
acknowledged two illegitimate
sons (each with a different
mother) and whose peccadillos
finally caused his recall to
Spain. It next came into the
hands of the Sanchez family,
cattle ranchers who had stayed
during the British regime and
sold beef to both the English
and Spanish garrisons.
IN 1821 THE SANCHEZ clan
sold it for 1600 pesos to Joseph
Hernandez, a planter who was
prominent in public affairs, but
somehow he failed to register
the deed' and so lost the
property. Ownership from 1827
until 1833 is unclear, but it that
year it was purchased by a
John Heilbron of South
Carolina who quickly sold it to a
Daniel S. Griswold. Griswold
sold it in 1837 to Dr. Seth S.
Peck for $350 and an agreement
that the buyer would assume
the mortgage of $918.
From then on, the old house
came into its own. Its new
owner was delighted with the
location, right in the center of
things, because since his
arrival in town in 1833, he had
been seeing his patients in the
City Hotel. He lost no time in
remodelling the house, adding
Sa second story of wood. In-
cidentally, by then Indian
troubles had made cutting
timber in Florida forests too
dangerous, so the lumber came
hv hnht frnrm 1Mau w Ennolan

where Dr. Peck also sent for a
number of beautiful furnishings
from his former home in Old
Lyme, Connecticut. The one-
time ruin was soon a
Dr. Peck died in 1841.
His widow lived until 1879
when she perished in a
yellow fever epidemic and
the house went to two
daughters. Eventually it
became the property of a
grand-daughter, Miss Anna
G. Burt, who lived there all
of her life and died at the
age of 81 in the very room
in which she had been born.
Miss Burt was one of the
founders, in 1893, of the
Woman's Exchange, then an
organization mainly set up to
enable local ladies, confined
more to their homes than
women are today, to sell their
handiwork and earn pocket
money. When she died in 1931,
she left her lovely home to the
city with theprovisionthat it be
maintained as an example of
the "old ante-bellum homes of
the South." The city would have
declined the gift, but the
Woman's Exchange offered to
act as custodian and took on
the responsibility of its upkeep.
Today, after repairs and
alterations made in 1968 under
the supervision of the St.
Augustine Restoration Cor-
poration and funded by the
Flagler Foundation, it is one of
the city's outstanding at-
tractions. The beautiful fur-
nishings brought from Con-
necticut over 100 years ago are
still in the house and a number
of the pieces are considered to
be priceless antiques.

It Happened

i^ -HERE

By The St. Augustine Historical Society

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