Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Dummett Block 32, Lot 10 (St. Francis Inn)
Title: St. Francis Inn
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: St. Francis Inn St. Augustine, Florida
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Dummett Block 32, Lot 10 (St. Francis Inn)
Physical Description: Brochure/pamphlet
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 7
Divider: Block 32
Folder: Dummett B32 -L10 (St. Francis Inn)
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
279 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Dummett House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Saint Francis Inn (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 279 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.888016 x -81.311175
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094851
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B32-L10

Full Text

#t. Franria 3I

-~ ~ -

St. Augustine, Florida

One and Two Room Furnished
Apartments with private baths and
kitchenettes Air-Conditioned
Overnight Weekly Monthly Rates

The history of St. Augustine began on
September 8, 1565, when it was founded by Pedro
Menendez and his band of colonists and soldiers.
The first Catholic Mass on the North American
continent was held on the spot where they landed.
There are more than 72 points of interest to take
the visitor back through 400 years of history.
Camera buffs find the narrow streets, lined with
old buildings with overhanging balconies, the
horse-drawn surreys and costumed natives to be
perfect subjects. Nearby beaches, boating, fishing
and a PGA golf course are all here for the
out-of-doors enthusiasts.
The St. Francis Inn has been a part of the history
of St. Augustine for almost 200 years and we
believe the following will be of interest to the

The story begins in the year 1791. Florida was
still a possession of the Spanish Crown and George
Washington had been President of our young
Republic for only twenty-two months. Congress
passed a bill that year establishing a National Bank
at Philadelphia "with a capital of ten millions of
dollars," and Vermont was admitted to the Union.
It was also in that year, on May 16, 1791, to be
exact, that Senor Gaspar Garcia received a Spanish
Grant to a plot of land . "on San Francisco Street
bounded in the North by the heirs of Vincent
Casaly .. East by house and lot of Juan Moreno
and West by the Street of the Old Church," in the
City of St. Augustine. Senor Garcia proceeded to
build a house on his land. He used "coquina," a
limestone formed of broken shells and corals
cemented together, found on Anastasia Island.
Coquina was first quarried by convict labor
shipped to Florida from Spain, later by slaves, and
is the same material used in the construction of
the Castilo de San Marcos, Oldest House and other
ancient buildings.

On October 5, 1798, the house and land were
transferred to Mateo Guadarrama. The property
then changed hands six times until it was
purchased on October 10, 1838, by Thomas Henry
Dummett, a former Colonel in the British Marines.
Colonel Dummett was a native of the Barbados, of
British parentage, who had been a wealthy sugar
planter there until the English passed the
Abolition Act. An uprising of former slaves
followed and Colonel Dummett placed his family,
slaves and movable property aboard three cargo
vessels in order to flee from the island. The story
told in the Dummett family was that Colonel
Dummett was in such danger that he had himself
smuggled aboard one of the ships in a sugar
He made good his escape and sailed, first to
England and then to Connecticut, where he and his
family lived for the next six years. The cold climate
was not to his liking, however, so a Spanish
gentleman from Florida easily persuaded him to
visit the Territory which had become a possession
of the United States in 1821 under the
Governorship of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the
Battle of New Orleans. He found the Florida
climate so much like his native Barbados that he
decided to settle there and, in 1825, purchased two
plantations totaling 3579 acres in Tomoka, upon
which he raised sugar cane. He subsequently had a
sugar mill built on the property, parts of which are
still standing.
All went well until the outbreak of the Second
Seminole Indian War in December, 1835. Colonel
Dummett hastily buried the family silver and, with
his family, fled to the comparative safety of St.
Augustine, "being shot at by the Indians as they
fled in canoes." The Florida Herald of January 6,
1836, described the destruction of the Dummett
plantation home as follows:
"We now learn from sources which are deemed
to be correct, that Colonel Dummett's house is not
burnt, but rifled of all its valuable contents. The
whole number of Indians engaged in the affair
appears to have been 13, headed by an Indian
Negro named John Ceasar. Ten of them crossed
over and committed the waste, and three remained
on the west side of the Hillsborough River to kill a
hog. After the Indians had accomplished their
purpose at the house, appearances indicate that
they built a fire on the floor, no doubt with a design
to burn it, but providentially, after burning

through the floor the fire went out."
It was later learned that a loyal Negro slave had
put out the fire and saved the house. However,
"every article of cloth had been taken, the house
was full of feathers and hair from the beds, the
leather torn from the furniture and books, and
almost every article of furniture broken. The family
portraits had been taken from the walls and their
eyes shot out by arrows." Later the vengeful
Seminoles returned and completed the destruction
of the plantation.
St. Augustine was filled with refugees and
housing was scarce. Colonel Dummett was lucky to
be able to rent an old house, in need of extensive
repairs, to shelter his large family. Living
conditions were a far cry from the spacious, easy
plantation life. In addition, the city was to all
intents and purposes under Martial Law, with
groups of armed guards patrolling the streets. One
night Miss Anna Dummett was returning home
from a friend's house with a servant as an escort
when they failed to hear the challenge of the
Guard. The Guard, thinking the shadowy figures
were the enemy skulking in the dark, narrow
street, prepared to fire upon them. Hearing the
sound of weapons being cocked, the two were sure
the enemy was upon them and fled in terror
through the streets to the Dummett home,
collapsing on the doorstep, exhausted.
A family friend ventured back to the plantation,
at great personal risk, to dig up the family silver
which the Seminoles had not yet found. He was
successful, managing to put it aboard his small
schooner, but was discovered by the Indians while
sailing close to shore. The Indians opened fire,
riddling the sails with bullet holes, but fortunately
a West wind rose to carry the boat out of danger.
The Seminoles, enraged at seeing their prey
escape, rode their horses into the river, firing
steadily at the boat which, pushed by the
Heaven-sent wind, sailed swiftly out of range. The
silver was soon returned to the Dummett family.
The Dummetts lived in their rented quarters for
over two years before the Colonel purchased the
old house on San Francisco Street. The cottage
behind the large coquina building was used as a
slave quarters and, in later years as a kitchen when
Gaspar Garcia's old home became a boarding
Colonel Dummett died in St. Augustine on
August 31st, 1839. His family stayed on in the old

house and, in April, 1845, his widow, Mary,
conveyed the house and lot to their daughters
Anna and Sarah. Anna operated the old building as
a boarding house and it became known as the
Dummett House until 1855, when the prope-ty was
conveyed to her brother-in-law, Major William
Hardee. For years after that the house was known
as the Dummett-Hardee House. Major William
Joseph Hardee U.S.A., was promoted in 1856 to
Lieutenant Colonel and assigned to the post of
Commandant of Cadets at West Point. That same
year he published "Rifle and Light Infantry
Tactics" which became a textbook for military
students for many years. He later became General
Hardee, C.S.A., and it is said that Confederate
spies operated out of the Dummett-Hardee House
during the War between the States.
In 1869, Brinton's Guide Book of St. Augustine
listed the boarding house of "Miss Dummitt." The
rates were $15.00 to $20.00 a week. In "A Winter
in Florida," by Bill Ledyard, published in 1870, it
says that: "among the private boarding houses
Mrs. Abbott's, Mrs. Gardner's, Madam Fatio's
and Miss Dummett's are among the best known
and are all pleasant homes and furnish excellent
accommodations at about half the price of the
During the 1880's the present-day lounge was
used to hold kindergarten classes and later these
classes expanded into a private elementary school
presided over by several teachers.
In May, 1888, the house was sold to Mr. John L.
Wilson, who enlarged the building by adding a
third story. It is said that during interior
remodeling, a workman was setting tiles in a
fireplace when he found a bag of doubloons. He
was so excited by his find that he ran away with the
treasure, dropping a few coins in his haste. He was
never heard from again.
The old building changed hands once again
before being purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
A. Graham in 1925 and renamed the Graham
House. The Grahams installed a central heating
system, bathrooms and a lavatory in each room.
For the next 25 years the old house accommodated
travelers from most of the United States and many
foreign lands until the property was conveyed to
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph G. Moody in 1950. The
Moodys changed the name to the St. Francis Inn
and continued to cater to visitors to St. Augustine
from near and far, among them writers, artists and

even some nobility, until they sold the Inn in 1954.
During the next nineteen years the Inn was used
primarily as a rooming-house. Then, on July 24,
1973, the Inn was purchased by the present
owners, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Willey, who
performed extensive repairs, including new
electric service and wiring throughout, plastering,
painting and, among other improvements, the
installation of kitchenette units in most of the
St. Francis Inn today is a classic example of
Old-World architecture and charm. It is situated in
the heart of the historic section of the oldest city on
the North American continent. The entrance,
Spanish style, faces a courtyard and garden
containing lush banana trees, bougainvillea,
jasmine and other tropical flowers and shrubs.
There is a patio and a balcony overlooking the
courtyard garden for the enjoyment of the guests.
The main shopping area, post office and churches
are all within a short walking distance of the Inn.
Those who choose to reside here enjoy a very
convenient location, historical atmosphere and
quiet comfort; the perfect residence, whether for a
short visit or an extended stay.

t. Franrisi 3n
279 St. George Street
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Telephone (904) 824-6068

L G_ / --


It. 4ranrs I nn

Corner St. Francis St. & St. George St.


Uze Stoty of St. Sitancis cnn

This is St. Francis Inn. Not only has it welcomed
travelers for over a hundred years, but it has had a
colorful history. Its story reaches from Spain and
the Barbadoes to the early territory of Florida and
its Seminole Wars down to present St. Augustine.
The early records show that the land on which this
Spanish house with overhanging galleries was built,
was a Royal Grant to Gaspar Garcia.
"In possession, Gaspar Garcia, May 16, 1791, . .
built a house and transferred it to Mateo Guaxarrana
October 1798." Old records have a curious way of
describing the property as "Bounded on the North by
heirs of Vincent Casaly, South by the street, East by
Juan Moreon, West by the street of the old church."
By 1830 the house had changed hands five times.
'After that it seems to have fallen into a state of
neglectt. It was not until 1836 that the house took on
-,,Aew life when it was bought by Colonel Thomas Henry
;Du'mmett, a wealthy sugar planter and former officer
In the IBritish Marines.
SThe Colonel was a native of the Island of Barbadocs,
iW.esti Indies, 1%1? came to live in New Haven, Con-
jecticut, about 1819. While in New Haven, Colonel
Dummett was persuaded by a Spanish friend to visit
-the little-known_ territory of Florida. He was so
charmedd with the climate, so much like that of his
native Barbadoes, that m 1825 lie bought two planta-
tions containing 2,1*00 acres of land on Tomoka river
near New Smyrn?. Colonel Dummett had a sugar mill
erected on the larger of the plantations and gave his
attention to the cultivation of the cane and manufacture
of sugar.
At the outbreak of the Second Seminole War the
Colonel, his wife and eleven children and their servants
were living in their plantation home. The Indians
were friendly and frequently on the plantation before
hostilities began. One day, Billy Bowlegs, the great
Seminole Chief, came to the plantation to ask Colonel
Dummett to request the "Great Father, the President,"
not to move his people from the land they loved so well.
After this the Dummett family no longer felt at
peace with the Seminoles, so they buried a large chest
of silver on the plantation and sought safety in St.
Augustine. One report stated they were shot at by
the Indians as they fled in canoes.
The Florida Herald for January 6, 18680, published a
report on the destruction of the Dummett plantation
home. Ten Indians rifled the house of all its valuable
contents, then set fire to the floor.

A faithful Negro slave put out the fire and saved
"the house, which was full of feathers and hairs from
.the beds. The leather was torn from the furniture and
books and almost all the furniture was broken. Also,
4he family portraits had been taken from the walls
ind the eyes shot out by arrows.

A Later the vengeful Seminolcs returned and coni-
iletely destroyed the plantation. They did not find
ie buried silver, however. A friend of the Dummett
mily risked his life Ahen he returned to the plan-
tion, dug up the silver and brought it away in his
rall schooner. The story goes that his sails were
,ot full of holes by the Seminoles. Fortunately, a
west wind blew up and carried the little boat out of
danger. In time the silver was delivered to the Dum-
meatts at their home in St. Augustine.

Colonel Dummett found the town crowded with
refugees when he and his family arrived in 1835. For
a time the family was crowded into a few rooms. The
following year the Colonel bought this old house and
made it comfortable. The smaller adjoining building
became the slaves' quarters. Years later, when the
house became an inn, this same building served as
the kitchen. More recently it has become a guest house.

At the time the Dumniett family moved into their
home, St. Augustine wa. practically ruled by martial
law and a strict guard against ,lodians was kept. In
her memoirs Miss Anna Maria Duiimett related how
frightened she became one night w!,ein she wias return-
ing from \ iiting a friend. A. man-servant had been
sent to take her home. On tle w.,y ;t guard in the
distance called out to them, to Oalt. They did not
hear the command, but they did hear the noise of the
muskets as the men brought their weapons to their
shoulders. Miss Dumm,'tt and the servant ran and
she fell in the doorway of her home. There her mother
and the soldiers found her.

Later, this daughter of the Dumnetts was to play
an important part in the management of the home.
Also, among other things, she became President for
Life of the Ladies Memorial Association and was the
prime mover in collecting money for the Monument
to the Confederate Dead which stands in the Plaza
in St. Augustine.

Although Colonel Dummett died in 18.39, his widow
and children shared in the ownership of the home for
many years. In IS'15 the records show that the prop-
erty was conveyed to daughters, Anna Maria Dummett
and Sarah J. Dummett. So oewhat later it was Anna
Maria Dummwtt who operate ld a boarding house in
the old home which then b'ecwm'nm known as the Dummett
In 1870 Bill Ledyard wrote in "A Winter in Florida":

"The place for strangers is the private boarding
house of which there are luckily quite a number. Mrs.
Abbott's, Mrs. Gardiner's, Madam Fatio's and Miss
Dummett's are among the best known and are pleasant
homes and furnish excellent accommodations at about
half the price of the hotels."

In 1855 the Dummett house became known, also, as
the Dunimmett-Hardce House when the property was
conveyed to General William Joseph Hardee, Miss
Dummett's brother-in-law. lHe had been commandant
of West Point and was the author of a notable book
on military tactics. General IIardee retained owner-
ship for over thirty years. During the War between
the States the Dummett-Hardee House was headquar-
ters for Confederate spies.

Some life-long residents of St. Augustine recall that
in the 1880's they attended kindergarten in what is
now the living room of the inn. After a few terms
the kindergarten grew into a private school in which
elementary subjects were taught by several teachers.
Then, from about 1891 to J894, two native French
teachers conducted a 'rench School in the house.

In 1888 Mr. John L. Wilson, uncle of Miss Emily
Wilson, St. Augustine historian, bought the inn and
remodeled it. While a workman was putting tiles in
one of the fireplaces he found a bag of doubloons
(Spanish coins). So excited was he, the story goes,
that he took the bag, dropped a few coins and ran away
with the rest. Apparently he was never found.
The house was owned jointly by Mr. and Mrs. A. K.
Pilgrim and Mr. and Mrs. Fred A. Hendrick before
it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Graham in
1925." At this time the inn became known as the
Graham House. The Grahams modernized the inn
by adding a heating system, lavatories in the rooms,
and by the addition of bathrooms.

After 25 years Graham House was sold to Mr. and
Mrs' Ralph G. Moody, who renamed it St. Francis Inn.
Mrs. Moody placed a statue of St. Francis in the
garden looking toward the inn with its yard of stately
palm and banana trees and luxuriant purple bougain-
villea. In 1954 the inn became the property of Mr.
and Mrs. Henry L. Konrad, its present owners.
The secret of the durability of the old inn lies in
its construction. The building blocks are of coquina,
a shell formation on Anastasia Island once quarried
by convicts brought from Spain. The ancient Fort
and the Oldest House are among others -built of coquina.
"Because of its history, its sturdiness and its charm,
St. Francis Inn attracts travelers from many states,
from Canada and from Europe. Thus, those who come
as visitors as well as those who dwell here share in
the story of this' fascinating house.

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