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STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
June 30, 1968
Confidential to XEP:
Some years ago when we were doing some work on St. Francis
Barracks/Arsenal buildings, I had an opportunity to examine the
blue prints that Mr. Hollingsworth made when he was in charge of
the reconstruction after the 1915 fire. These drawings clearly
showed the old walls and fireplaces, etc. that he removed, as well
as the new walls and particions that were installed, and the old
I suppose Mr. ,Greeley ppde similar plans.
walls that were left in place. / I d not say Original walls
because I think the word is being used promiscuously, especially
in relation to Government House which we know has been rebuilt
'remodelled and reconstructed more than once.
Mr, Greeley's unpublished report has on page 3 some very
. After many trials and failures a satisfactory plan
was evolved, which after many more changes and timnaHxaKxx
readjustments was finally adopted for use and the finished
drawings were completed, upon which the contract was awarded
to James I. Barnes of Loganport, Indiana, and actual
construction commenced on January 15, 1936. .
Assuming that your recollection and Mr. Greeley's statements
are correct and that the contractor razed all of the old walls to
the ground, it would seem to me that these final drawings and the
contractor's specifications would contain the final answer to the
construction of the present building, and would answer once and
for all whether or not any of the old walls or portions of them
were left standing. If they were not, then all of the coquina
that is visible could be veneer or window dressing. This especially
in the case of the north wall, which has a great deal of exposed,,,,
coquina andlooks to me as though it must bear some stress if it
is actually old wall construction. Mr. Greeley I believe told you
that there were no coquina walls bearing any weight and that the 1936
construction was hollow tile reinforced with steel.
The GSA report does not mention the 1936 reconstruction.
The National Park Service report prepared by Messrs. Manucy and Arana
In recognition of historicity, Architect Mellen C. G1eeley>
designed a facade reminiscent of the 1764 sketch. He retained
three of the old walls. His plan shows these were the north
wall (1834), the east wall (1713, partly reconstructed in 1786),
and most of the south wall (1713). Fenestration in these walls
was changed, however, and the structure was again raised in
height. A new wing was built over the site of the old south
wing, and there was a utilitarian expansion toward the west. .
Their documentation for this paragraph is:
28. Mellen C. Greeley, Plan of the United States Post office and
Customs House, St. Augustine, Florida, 1935; W.W. Wilkins, "Archi-
tectural Evaluation, U. S. Post Office and Customs House, St.
Augustine, Florida", report to the National Park Service, St.
Augustine, July 1965.
Obviously we should check with the Park Service as to these
last two items. The title of the Wilkins report is not the same as
the GSA report. The latter only shows in a table the cost of repairs
and alterations as of 1901.
It occurs to me that the Greeley Plan referred to may not be the
final one, in view of his statement that there were "many more changes
and readjustments". These final plans must be available somewhere,
probably in the Treasury Department, as well as the contract with Mr.
Barnes from Logansport, Indiana, and there must have been specifications.
If, instead of retaining three of the old walls, the building
was levelled to the ground, then we are presently dealing with a 1936
structure, and I do not see why the dates of previous structures
would be important, except.to show the evolution of the present!
Mr. Newton's March 13, 1966 letter to the Record states
S. In 1936 the style was turned backward to the Spanish
original, within the same walls, and a much larger south
wing added in the same Spanish style. The building is therefore
composed today of a colonial east portion, altered and not
fully restored in 1936, and a new but sympathetically executed
south wing which includes the older American west portion ( of
which only the north wall survives).
This does not seem to agree with Mr. Greeley, Messrs. Manucy
and Arana, or your recollection of the 1936 construction.
Don't you think we should find out just what they did in 1936?
There would be some red faces if they start to raze the north and
east walls or any portion of them, and find that they are only
hollow tile with a coquina vaneer. Thatwwould be original all
right, but original ca. 1936, and therefore should be left intact.
I hope I have made my point.
P.S.:The 1834 (November 28) Mr. John Drysdale, a local attorney,
and Dr. Wm. H. Simmons, made a statement that one of the 15 rooms' '
in the building completed by Elias Wallen was "an office for a public
athenaeum." Webster says this is a "building or apartment where a
library, periodicals and newspapers are kept for use." I can give
you the details of the use of the building by the Public library
later on. The building was also used for religious services and
theatricals. Your idea for its use as a library certainly has
good historical background.