* FLORIDA'S FIRST CAPITOL *
ST. AUGUSTINE. FLORIDA
* FLORIDA'S FIRST CAPITOL *
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA
HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE, INC.
HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
Division of Historical Resources
Florida Department of State
Sandra B. Mortham
Secretary of State
This brochure was made possible through a generous contribution from the Alfred I. duPont Foundation, Inc.
today, St. Augustine is a picturesque city in Florida a very small part of this nation. But,
in 1565 fifty-five years before the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock forty-
two years before the settlement of Jamestown a permanent community was established by Spain in a
virgin country they called "La Florida". This community, St. Augustine, encompasses much of the Spanish
legacy in North America the vital, but neglected story of Spain's role in the development of the Americas.
Here, in modern Florida, along the route of a great tourist influx, stands a city which holds the key to
an understanding of the Spanish heritage of North America and the common heritage that binds us to our
Latin American neighbors. St. Augustine is a most significant illustration of the cultural and institutional
beginnings of this country.
COVER DESIGN: A photograph of the rich Spanish tapestry used on the valances above the nine large windows
in the Sala de Montiano so-named after Don Manuel de Montiano, Spanish Governor of Florida from 1737-
1749 in the east wing of Government House. The tapestry complements the antique Spanish paintings, fur-
nishings and accessories which are also used in the room. The interior design of this beautiful room was made
possible through a gift in 1988 from Seior Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano, Chairman of the
Board of the MAPFRE Corporation in Madrid, Spain. Senor Larramendi is a direct descendant of Governor
She history of Government House had its beginnings well before the thirteen colonies were
established. It was on this site, in St. Augustine, Florida, that one of the early Spanish gov-
ernors, Gonzalo Mendez de Canzo, purchased a widow's house and enlarged it. Since Governor Canzo's
house was built of wood, it no longer survives. Due to numerous battles and fires that the garrison town of
St. Augustine endured, several of the other houses did not survive either. The present structure evolved
from several layers of history begin-
ning in 1713. Its plan and appearance
at that time are uncertain, but its ren-
ovation in 1759 is well documented.
When Florida was ceded to Great
Britain in 1763, British Governor
Grant installed glazed windows and ,
the Governor's Mansion became the I .
symbol of British authority in Florida.
In 1785, the building again became
the Spanish "Casa del Gobernador" The earliest depiction of the Governor's Mansion as recorded ca. 1763
and a major renovation was undertak- in a watercolor painting by an unknown English artist.
en. By 1811, Government House reflected the declining fortunes of Spain in Florida and had deteriorated
to the point that the Governor refused to live in it.
In 1821, Florida became an American territory. At that time, Government House was partially renovat-
ed and remained the capitol building. The Florida Legislative Council met there until Tallahassee became
the new capital in 1823.
Ten years later, Government House was remodeled by the U.S. Government as a post office, court-
house, and office building. Although there is historical importance in the fact that its use continued as a
government building, there is particular significance in the fact that the work was designed by the impor-
tant American architect Robert Mills. He is generally credited by historians as the architect who left the
greatest mark on Washington, D.C. Appointed supervising architect for Federal buildings in 1836, he
designed the neo-classic Treasury Building, the Patent Office (now the National Portrait Gallery), and the
Post Office and Land Office (now the Tariff Commission). However, of particular interest is the fact that
he won the commission for the design of the Washington Monument in 1833, the same year in which his
work was executed at Government House.
During the Civil War, Federal troops were quartered in Government House and additional remodeling
took place in 1868, 1873 and 1889 and it served as a courthouse and office building until 1936. Then
another major renovation took place during the "Great Depression" and Government House became a U.S.
post office. The renovation saved the architectural practice of Mellon C. Greeley, a remarkable self-taught
professional who would later be called the "Dean of Architects" in Jacksonville, Florida. In his memoirs,
Government House as it appears in 1996 before any of the planned improvements have taken place. Improve-
ments to the building and the gardens will cost over $2,000,000 and take more than ten years to complete.
Mr. Greeley discusses his problems with fed-
eral regulations during the design of the
building, and says, "There was, for instance, '
the question of casement windows over side-.
walks: our design could not possibly use .-
anything but casements since it was Spanish
colonial, somewhat paralleling the old Fort
and other examples in the city, but standard
regulations of the Treasury Department abso-
lutely forbade the use of casements ... but
[Mr.] Reynolds, supervising architect of the
Treasury Department, knew the history of St. .
Augustine and convinced all concerned
departments that the success of the design
depended on the use of casements . ." .
Mr. Greeley, like Robert Mills, was reno-
vating Government House for government .
use. Unlike Mills, however, he wished to ren-
ovate the building with its historic context in -"
This interior view of Government House shows the badly
mind, albeit from a very personal and roman- deteriorated state that many of the rooms are presently in. The
tic viewpoint. Greeley not only preserved as tile roof alone could cost well over $100,000 to repair.
much of the early walls as possible; he also exposed the coquina to view as an interpretive device. His work
remains today and traces of earlier window and door openings can be seen in the exposed masonry on the
north side of the building. This was another idea grudgingly permitted by the increasingly exasperated
In 1967 the ownership of Government House was transferred to the State of Florida with the covenants
that include the assurance of "the continued use and maintenance of the property as and for an historic
monument" intended for the public.
I~ I I-~
The above painting by Dick Zayac, a local St. Augustine artist, depicts the concept of a European cafei
that has recently come to life in the courtyard of Government House. A tabby pervious concrete has been
poured in the open ground areas, leaving room for flower beds surrounding the courtyard where blooming
foundation plants and annuals have been planted. The four flags (from left to right) the American, the
second Spanish period, the British and the first Spanish period are hung on the balcony depicting the
6 various sovereign countries that have participated in St. Augustine's history dating back to 1565. Colorful
hanging baskets and potted plants decorate the grape arbor and all the balconies. Tables, chairs and
umbrellas serve as an invitation for visitors to stop for a rest and some refreshments. The "Museum Cafe"
will serve to bring more attention to the building for fundraising purposes and to increase admissions to
the museum inside that depicts St. Augustine's history. The exterior of the building has been cleaned,
exterior lanterns are due to be refurbished, all the exterior woodwork is to be painted, and the interior
lobby lighting will be improved thanks to a grant from the Florida Department of State.
THE PURPOSE OF THE HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
C! he Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board is an agency of the State of Florida created by
the Legislature in 1959 to preserve the historical integrity of the city of St. Augustine, now
more than 430 years old. Its statutory function is to preserve, protect and maintain the historic and cultural
resources of St. Augustine and the surrounding area for public enjoyment and education. The Preservation
Board has engaged in an intensive effort to restore a significant portion of the old Spanish city of St.
Augustine. In the northern sector of the city, near the 17th Century Castillo de San Marcos, the Board
operates a living history museum, the SPANISH QUARTER MUSEUM, which interprets the daily
lifestyles of 18th Century St. Augustine. The Preservation Board contributes to the preservation and
restoration of the historic sites and buildings throughout St. Johns County. In addition to conducting an
extensive program of archaeological and historical research, the Board maintains and develops historic sites
and properties and provides assistance to individuals who seek to preserve the historic and cultural charac-
ter of their own properties.
Financial support for the activi-
ties of the Board comes from a com-
bination of sources. State appropria-
tions sustain the salaries of most of
the career service employees. Self
generated revenue pays Other Per-
Ssonal Services and agency operating
pPexpenses. Private tax deductible
donations, memberships and gifts
given to the 501(c)(3) support foun-
dation known as Historic St.
A view ofseveral of the structures on St. George Street that were Augustine, Inc. pay for all of its
restored by the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board in the past. activities, operations, and programs.
THE MISSION OF THE HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
11 of the goals and activities of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board must be
viewed in context with the significance that the historical and cultural resources that
St. Augustine possesses and the economic potential these resources offer the State of Florida. Accordingly, a
statement of the agency's mission, goals and achievements logically begins with a description of the city's
historical importance, the extent of its architectural resources, and a history of the efforts to preserve them.
Founded in 1565 by Spain, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied. European settlement in
the United States the authentic birthplace of western civilization and Christianity on the North
American continent. With the exception of a twenty-one-year hiatus of British rule (1763-84) the city
served as the military and religious headquarters of the Spanish Empire in this region for more than 250
years until 1821. During the Territorial Period of Florida history, the City remained the most significant
political, economic and military center in the eastern part of the State. It was Florida's first capital, which
was later moved to Tallahassee. In the last half of the nineteenth century, it became the tourist mecca for
wealthy northern visitors. No other locality or community in the United States can equal the variety, age,
and cosmopolitan complexity of its documented history, archaeological resources and architectural rem-
nants not even Williamsburg, Charleston or Savannah.
When the United States acquired Florida in 1821, some 300 colonial buildings stood in the City. By
the mid-20th Century, decay, fire and development had swept away all but about 35 of them and much of
the rich archaeological resources that contained the testimony of four centuries of life had been irretriev-
ably destroyed during new construction. Moreover, even many of the splendid structures erected during the
19th Century, including some built by the legendary Henry M. Flagler, had disappeared.
A realization that the City's priceless heritage was being destroyed inspired the Carnegie Commission in
the 1930's to develop a restoration effort based on the Williamsburg model. The program, whose nation-
wide appeal revealed the popularity of St. Augustine's image, was interrupted by World War II. By the late
1950's, further erosion of the architecture had occurred. Businessmen, concerned citizens and scholars
alike, fearing that the cultural value and economic potential of the resource would disappear, looked to the
State of Florida for assistance in certain knowledge that local measures would not prove sufficient to salvage
Working within the framework of the Florida Parks and Memorials Association, Governor LeRoy
Collins appointed a special advisory committee of leading Florida citizens to recommend what, if any,
action the State should take to rescue the City's heritage. The committee concluded that the national his-
toric value of St. Augustine warranted State direction and support for a program of research, preservation,
and a restoration in the City. On July 1, 1959, House Bill 774 was signed into law by the Governor, creat-
ing the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission. This was the first Board of its
kind created within the State and was designed to address the urgent need to preserve what the blue-ribbon
committee deemed to be an historic and archaeological resource of unique State and National appeal and
value. When, in later years, requests were made from areas for similar legislative assistance, the St.
Augustine statute provided the model.
The statute provided for a seven-member board appointed by the Governor with a responsibility "to
acquire, restore, preserve, maintain, reconstruct, reproduce, and operate for the use, benefit, education,
recreation, enjoyment, and general welfare" of the people the historical and antiquarian sites in St.
Augustine. The Governmental Reorganization Act of 1968 renamed the Commission the Historic St.
Augustine Preservation Board and placed it under a type four transfer within the Department of State.
Since its creation, the Board has conducted an historical and archaeological research program to support
acquisition and development of historically significant properties.
Employing funds raised essentially through private sources, the Board has acquired over 30 pieces of
historic property on which it has preserved, restored or reconstructed documented structures. It has cooper-
ated closely with municipal, county and private agencies and institutions to restore and reconstruct over 40
significant sites and buildings in the City. The Board's work has inspired many individuals to preserve or
restore historically significant properties they own. It has conducted an interpretive program that has intro-
duced hundreds of thousands of visitors to this unique aspect of Florida's and America's past. Additionally,
hundreds of school groups from throughout the State annually visit the Board's living history museum,
obtaining a vivid impression of Florida's contribution to the founding of America. Working under the
Board's auspices, the University of Florida and Florida State University have conducted intensive graduate
study archaeological research efforts in the City. The Board participates in significant national and interna-
tional conferences. The program has focused major national attention on Florida, provided tourist impetus,
rescued the City's heritage, revived what in 1959 had been a stagnant local economy, and transformed a
blighted urban area into a thriving commercial and tourist sector.
In administering the law, the Board's goals are defined by the responsibilities and authority spelled out
in Chapter 266 of the Florida State Statutes. The Board additionally strives to encourage supportive orga-
nizations and individuals to cooperate in the restoration effort. The other major goal of the Board is to fos-
ter, encourage, and support efforts and measures locally to preserve the architectural and archaeological
resources found throughout the City, which, as noted before, contains the richest and most intensive con-
centration of such resources in the United States.
The headquarters of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board and its direct support 501(c)(3) tax-
exempt organization, Historic St. Augustine, Inc., are located in Government House on the historic Plaza
de la Constituci6n in downtown St. Augustine. Government House is the site of the home of the first
Spanish governors of Florida dating back to 1598 and was Florida's first capitol building.
HISTORIC ST AUGUSTINE, INC.
HISTORIC ST AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
Division of Historical Resources
Florida Department of State
Sandra B. Mortham
Secretary of State
WON'T YOU PLEASE HELP?
M government House has not endured any major renovations since it was rebuilt in 1936. It is
imperative that attention now be paid to this site not only because of its vital historic
nature but also because of its deteriorated state and underuse as a public building. The
expense of renovation, restoration and repair of any historic structure is enormous and funds are badly
needed to preserve Government House as the important historical monument that it is. The Division of
Historical Resources of the State of Florida has provided a grant so an architectural feasibility study can be
ordered for the 21,000 square foot building. The results of this study should reveal fascinating ideas and a
multitude of fundraising opportunities. In the pocket of this brochure, you will find a list of the current
needs for Government House and their costs.
With present government cut-backs and the threat of future government cut-backs, Historic St.
Augustine, Inc. is preparing itself for the inevitable. It is turning to private funding sources both in St.
Augustine and outside this small city of only 12,000 residents. Preserving our heritage should be everyone's
concern and Historic St. Augustine, Inc. feels the responsibility and is asking for your help. Please choose
the particular item you would most like to support from the "wish list" in the pocket. Your tax deductible
contribution to the renovation of Government House shall be deposited in a separate account and encum-
bered for that specified purpose only. Your check should be made out to Historic St. Augustine, Inc. which
qualifies as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and directly supports the Historic St. Augustine
Preservation Board. All major contributors will be kept apprised of all renovation activities associated with
Government House until its completion. An endowment fund will then be established for the purpose of
maintaining the renovated project in future years.
HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE, INC.
P.O. Box 1987
St. Augustine, FL 32085-1987