THE HISTORIC AMMIOAN BUILDINGS SURVEY
PHOTO-DATE BOOK INFORMATION
City of St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida
St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Comission
The building that has been entitled the "Rodriguea-Avero house" is
located at h8, 52, or 48 and 52 St. George Street in the city of St. Augustine,
Florida. According to the Tax Rolls of St Johns County the property is
designated as lot 20, block 12 of the City of St. Augustine. Grawbuck Homes,
Inc., of 5650 Arapohoe Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida, currently own this
historical edifice and the lot that it is constructed upon. At this time
the first two floors of the house serve as a museum of Yesterday's Tqs;
the third (attic) floor, which contains three rooms and a bath room, presently
houses the museums director.
The Fuoha-Arnau house, which appears to be a more accurate historical
title than the "Rodriguez-Avero" house, is significant historically because
its present architecture reveals at least three different historical and
cultural periods; it manifests eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century
architectural features. While its coquina masonry indicates the Hispanic
motif, the wood framing evidences an Anglo-American architectural theme,
The entire house thus reflects a current of cultural history through its
changing and renovated architecture.
While the historical site of the Fucha-Arnau house can be successfully
located from approximately 1813-52 to the present time it is oexeedingly
difficult to locate it accurately before 1813. Since most of the property
transfers fail to describe the properties that changed ownership, and since
the Spanish, British, and American occupants of St. Augustine employed dif-
ferent measuring systems in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
properties and land sites cannot usually be clearly delineated. Archeology
should eventually accurately locate these historic land plots.
It is even more arduous to trace historically the houses that presently
exist in St. Augustine. In fact it is possible that this particular dwelling,
which has been called the Todriguez house, may not even resemble the histori-
cal Rodriguez house that originally existed on the Toy Miuseum's present site.
The Juan Si1xio de la Puente Map of 1764 indicates that a house was
located on the what is believed to be present site of the Museum of Yester-
day's Toys. This house, situated on lot 68, square D (according to the
description of the Juan Elixio de la Puente map), was described as being a
house of stone owned by Antonia de Avero. Antonia de Avero inherited the
house from Sgt. Fernando Rodriguez in 1762. The Rodriguez will, however,
stated that the house was constructed of wood. The John de Solis and Moncrief
maps of 1765 indicate a house on the site, but the house varies considerably
in size and position on each map. The Mariano deo la Rooque ap of 1788-89
and Don Juan Nepoauceno do Quesada's Property Assessment of 1790 refer to
the structure as a house of stone, mortar, and rubble-work masonry. Then,
the Escrituras of 1813-14 mention the sale of Maria 0astaneda's wooden house
to Pedro Fucha. In that period the Esorituras discuss a wooden home on the
northern portion of the lot and a coquina house on the southern portion of
the lot. Modern archeological information indicates that these two houses
share a cemon wall, which stands in an east-west position; an 1803 property
appraisal likewise mentions the common wall. Archeology also suggests that
the second floor of the house on the southern portion of the lot was constructed
prior to the second floor of the house on the northern portion of the lot. It
is possible that the "wooden house" description might have referred to the
upper floors which could have rested upon a masonry constructed first floor.
By 1852 stone houses existed on both portions of the original plot; these houses
even shared a common stone wall. The stone house that now is situated on lot
20, block 12, may not have been constructed until 1813-52. Of course, there
may have been older foundations or other building sections which could easily
have been incorporated into the present structure at that time. Archeology has
revealed late eighteenth century floor artifacts in the northern room facing
St. George Street. The St. Johns County Deed Books seem to indicate that the
present Toy Museum has substantially the same form and composition as the stone
house of the Fucha-Arnau era.
Because of the varied descriptions and alterations that the so-called
Rodriguez-Avero house has been recorded historically, it is not possible to
award the present building such an antiquated title. While it is likely that
the "Museum of Yesterday's Toys" is situated on the lot of the Rodriguea house,
it appears historically that the present dwelling is not the old Rodrigues
house. Of course, today's museum could contain walls, foundations, or other
structural remains of the old aodriguez-Avero houses. Since the house in
question has so masy listings of rebuilding and renovations it is really
only possible to claim that the entire structure that houses the Museum of
Yesterday's Toys could not have existed prior to the period 1813-52. Unless
archeological evidence produces a different origin the house that is located
at 48-52 St. George Street should be entitled the "Fucha-Arnau house".
ORIGINAL AND SUBSEQUENT OWNakS1
1762 and for an unknown time prior to 1762-Sergeant Fernando Aodrigtes.
"Dena Antonia de Avero sobre ramsoi sus cases y posesiones, soa
lo dreams quo de lo autos emnsta. Florida, Ae de 1793.*
86 Folios No. 19, Bundle No. 320j City Lots: St. Augustinej Field
Note Division, Departaent of Agrioulture (Tallahasso), State of
Florida. And Charles W. Arcade, "Th Avero Story; An Early St,
Augustine Family with HaYry Daghters and NMay Hoamens*W, Florida
Historical arrl Vol. ZXZ, No. 1, July, 1961.
176,........Antonia do Avero
(Juan nixio de la Puente and a dt of St At stine,
(As listed on the 1765 Monorief Map)
1788........ Dn Antonio Fernandes was in charge of the property.
(Mariano deU oaque Mag and I, of St. Augusatine, Florida,
1791........the King of Spain
(o Juan No do Land vntory & Assessment of
(georituras January, 1791, 20 Deoeaber 1792, pp. 30 v., 31 v.)
(st Flrda Papers, Library of Congress)
This ohronological listing of owners concerns the owners who lived
on the probable site of the present Toy Msmeum. According to the con-
clusions of this research it is doubtful that all these owners lived
in the house that currently exists. Also, it is essential to mention
that this list is not necessarily complete. In the British Period
(1763-84), for example, the owners of this location remain unknlm
except for the Kipp listing on the Monorief map of 1765.
1803........Maria Castaneda (Sanchesa' idow)
acrituras. 3 February 1803, 29December 1804, p. 332 V.)
t Papers, Library of Congress)
(Earituras, 4 harch, 1813)
(5t. Johns ounty Deed Book (o), p. 172, 1820)
1834........Dohn Sanches and Stephen Arnau
(Bejamin Gleent & J. B. Glaments Map and Index of St.
1852........ Ann Arnau kurlbert
(St. Johns County Deed Book (_),
1867....... o argaret Je. Perry
(St. Johns CMounty Deed Book (0),
1869....... Mary Strischka
(St, Johns County Deed Book
(St. Johns Omnty Deed Bocx
(St, Johns County Deed Book
-p. 30-41, June 1, 1852)
p. 463, July lI, 1867)
(0), p. 486, Jan. 4, 1869)
(a), p. 486, Jan. 14, 1869)
(o), p. 463, Aay 25, 1874)
1876........diliiam S. Watkins, Mildred G. Watkins, Elizabeth T.
Watkins and Margaret Watkins
(St. Johns Gunty Deed Book (_j), p. 21, April 20, 1876)
(St. Johns County Deed Book (BB), p. 187 and 190, June 9, 1883)
1926........A11 the heirs of Mlildred Watkins owned the property
since Mildred Watkins died intestate.
(St. Johns County Deed Book (Q ), pp. 431-52, August 10, 1937)
1937........The heirs of Mildred Watkins made George w. Thames trustee
of the property.
(St. Johns oon Deed Book ( ), pp. (31-52, August 10, 1937)
194....... .Marguerita Phillips
(St. Johns Jounwiy Deed Book C2), p. 505, Jan. l4, 1944)
1951........Walter B. iraser
(St. Johns County Deed Book (212), p. 382, August 6, 1564)
1958........*rawbuck lioues, Inc.
(St. Johns Oounty Ded Book (2) p. 39-1, June 3, 1953)
The historical research in this report dealing with events after 1820
was compiled primarily from Keaneth ii. Beeson's Documentary Report on ixouse #$2
St. George Street, St. Augu~tine, Fla., and the land and property transfer records
of the St. Johns County Record Archives. Information prior to 1820 was extracted
from Carnegie Revord files and other library sources of the St. Augustine Historical
Society and the St. Augustine Historical Aestoration and Preservation Ocianission.
Date of ereotionm
The exact date of erection is unknown but the house in its present form
as probably erected in the period 1813-52, possibly incorporating at the north
end sa earlier masonry structure. Atheological investigation indicates that
late eighteenth century floor artifacts exist in that north portion of the building.
Architect and builders
The arhiteot and/or builder of the house remain unknown.
Th original plans of the house are not available.
Notes on alterations and additioms:
As this report's teKt indicat s almost the eattre history of this
building reveals renovations, alterations and probably even reconstruction The
historical documents antion a wooden hose exiAting on the present site in 1762
and In 1813-14. These doeumats also refer to a stems and msery hosmeM oan that
san site in 1764, 1788, 1791, and 1852. The house, therefore, appear to have
suffered mnuaa s alterations and reoonstraotioes although the hietorial ahobrelof
of these proposes remains obscure. As late a 1958 a stain8rv and porch were
added to the rear of the building. In that year structural braces were also erected.
There ar some late ninteenth and er3yr tmntieth century pbotogrphs of
SourCes of iofoematins
Nost of this resew h was drawm from the Land and Deod Reaords of St. John
GouAy Arevires, the mps and Carnegie File bhoas doouMawts of the St. Augustine
Historical Sooiety and St. Augustisne Hiatoril Preservation and Rstoration Caom.
vision, and tbhe rent historical house reports written by Charles W. Arnade ad
Kennemth H. Besons
Charles Arnde'a "The Avero Staoiys An Early 8S. Augustine Fa"di7 With
Man Daughters and May Homes* and aenneth BeeDon's "Doouzantary Ueport on
Hoase #52, St. George Street, St. Augustine, Florida".
Li4bg souroeew not yet invetigated:
2he University of florda's P. K. onpe Library's Loonkl Collectionu,
Station olletoions, and British Colonial Hweerds offtr Sor info atioc pMr-
taiwnag to the history of this bous and otoer St. Augustine historic bhoue. It
appeas also that the British oofleotiIms in tbh William L. mntM Library
(Ana Arbor, iMohigan), the Eat Florida Paprs oollestion in the Libray of Coon-
grees (dsbhington, D. C.) and the Bahama lands Colonial reasrds right all posses
relevant material concerning St. Augustine historic houses and sites.