Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 28 Lot 2, Military Hospital
Title: Military Hospital Was Once A Home
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094843/00005
 Material Information
Title: Military Hospital Was Once A Home
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 28 Lot 2, Military Hospital
Physical Description: Clipping/photocopy
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 7
Divider: Block 28 Lot 2 (Spanish Military Hospital)
Folder: Block 28 - 2, Military Hospital
 Subjects
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
3 Aviles Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spanish Military Hospital (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 3 Aviles Street
Coordinates: 29.891837 x -81.311598
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094843
Volume ID: VID00005
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B28-L2

Full Text



The Explorer, Page 19

v-- Military Hospital Was Once A Home-,


On the west side of Aviles street near
the plaza there stood in the 18th century
a Spanish military hospital. During the
British occupation of St. Augustine
1763-1783 a Scottish carpenter and
builder named William Watson pur-
chased and remodeled into a dwelling a
stable which stood opposite it. Soon
thereafter he built a new house a few
steps to the southeast (Watson House),
and his former residence was remade
into a convalescent home. Not long
after the Spaniards retook possession of
the two a fire destroyed the hospital. In
1791 the government purchased the
convalescent home and modified it for
use as a military hospital. This present
structure is a reconstruction of that
historic edifice on its original site.
Above the main entrance the visitor
first sees the coat-of-arms of Charles
IV, king of Spain during the late 18th
century. Entering the building one
notices first the apothecary shop with
its pharmacist surrounded by antique
drug jars from Spain; in historic times
the resident apothecary had to grow his
own herbs and-or gather wild ones. On
the counter is a modern replica of a
traditional mortar and pestle. Behind
the grille is visible an old Spanish
marble pill-rolling slab, with marks for
slicing pills from a cylinder of
medicinal material, some of which
would have been ground in the small
bronze 18th century mortar beside it.
The book is an 18th century French
volume of prescriptions, many of which
are in Latin. An antique balance-scale
with weights completes the main
working area. Beyond it in the glass-
topped case are 19th century doctors'
bleeding knives for letting blood from
veins.
Beyond the antique Spanish floor-
chest and modern reproduction reed


chair can be seen the darkened morgue,
where relatives and friends of a dead
soldier might pray and burn candles for
the traditional 24-hour period. A
grieving young lady in black sits, fan
and rosary at hand, beside the
deceased. He, in dress uniform, lies in
an antique mortuary bed brought from
Spain; the sides are hinged to facilitate
movement of the body from stretcher to
bed and bed to coffin. The iron candle
brackets are reproductions made in our
blacksmith shop.
Next is the doctors' office, where
operations were also performed. All
furnishings except the bed are 18th
century antiques. Here the resident
physician prepares further bandaging
of a soldier patient. Outside the door is
the official bulletin board, on which
may be seen translations of excerpts
from the Spanish Royal Army Medical
Corps' regulations as to personnel and
their duties
The large room beyond is the Of-
ficers' Ward, being bigger, lighter, and
airier than the rest and including a
table for eating and card playing. Hung
on one of the wall clothing-pegs is an
antique bed-wrench for periodic
tightening of ropes supporting the
straw-filled mattresses. There is a door
to the loggia outside for use when
weather permitted. A water-jar and
dipper stands in the corner. A toilet-box
with jar rests against the south wall.
Each bed is equipped with the
necessary T-bar and mosquito net. The
fireplace is used both for warmth and
for heating water in the old kettle. A
portrait of a saint overlooks the room.
Through the next door is the Enlisted
Men's Ward, with beds for sergeants
and corporals, a long shelf for lowly
privates (built for four but in an
emergency could accommodate eight).


The ward attendant performs nursing,
duties for the three patients, each with
different ailments. Minimum accessory
items are mosquito nets, toilet box, and
candle holders.
At the rear of the building is located
the Isolation Ward, with two patients.
Besides the standard features this room
also has floor-length white draw-
curtains, pulled when the Governor or
any other visitor not previously ex-
posed visited and-or inspected the
hospital, to prevent contagion. The
stairway leads to the second floor,
historically the living quarters for
attendants and employes. Current
plans call for conversion of the upper
story to a Museum of Florida Medical
History as soon as sufficient funds are
found.
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