Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Government House / East Wing (Progress Reports) general correspondence & information
Title: Government House Renovations Progress
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095492/00010
 Material Information
Title: Government House Renovations Progress
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Government House / East Wing (Progress Reports) general correspondence & information
Physical Description: Clipping/photocopy
Language: English
Creator: Sterling, Daphne
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Government House Maintenance
Folder: Government House / East Wing (Progress Reports) general correspondence & information
 Subjects
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
48 King Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Government House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 48 King Street
Coordinates: 29.892465 x -81.313142
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095492
Volume ID: VID00010
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

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Government House


renovations progress


By DAPHNE STERLING
Staff Writer

Renovations are well under way in
tie Historic St. Augustine Preserva-
tion Board's old Government House
op the corner of St. George and King
streets.
Major transformations are taking
lace in the former auditorium and
te east wing.
Renovation of that part of the
ilding which was most recently
d by Flagler College as a cultural
ts hall began in December and is
Scheduled fort completion on March
,according to David Scott, director
research and construction for the
SAPB.'
The Legislature appropriated
38,000 for this project which in-
udes renovations and safety re-
pairs for the east wing and the for-
mer auditorium.
Safety repairs involve the instal-
lation of firewalls between the audi-
l6rium and lobby, and the east wing
Oid lobby.
SRenovations in the auditorium in-
jiude stripping the room of its for-
4er stage and chairs, the installa-
ion of the firewall, which consists of
tvo layers of half-inch non-combusti-
ole firewall on each side of the wall.
0ott said the wall is referred to as a
,two-hour fire-rated" wall, meaning
at in case ofla fire, it would take at
14ast two hours for the heat to pen-
grate.
SThe L-shaped wall seals the side
against the lobby, and the back wall,
,hind what used to be the stage.
SWhat's left is to refinish the ma-
e floors.
C "We will gussy up the floors a lit-
e," said Scott, "but we've mainly
bntracted to install the fire safety
features)."
W Along with installation of the fire-
#all, the list of renovations for the
t st wing includes updating the elec-
ical system, installing a new air


conditioning unit, repairing the ceil-
ing, plastering the columns and the
walls, and constructing a new door-
way into the main room.
Rita O'Brien, public information
officer of the preservation board,
said part of the original plans for the
building have been to convert the
east wing into "a museum of St. Au-
gustine's history from the days be-
fore the white man to Henry Flag-
ler's era."
An additional $200,000 has also
been appropriated by the state for
the museum project, which is still in
the planning stage.
"We are just preparing a room to
accept a museum," Scott said.
Flagler College would have ex-
hausted its contract with the preser-
vation board in September, but va-
cated the building in December un-
der an agreement allowing the board
to begin work on the restoration.
College administrators signed a
10-year memorandum of agreement
in 1974 with the HSAPB to renovate
the auditorium and continue proper
maintenance of the facilities in ex-
change for the use of the property for
cultural events.
"We did everything to it. We had
a lot of upkeep," said Jack Lakes,
business director at Flagler College.
Lakes said the college invested about
$20,000 in the Government House ren-
ovations.
In 1984 when the contract expired,
an extension of the lease was signed
for 'an additional five-year period.
The college's drama department oc-
cupied the theater for classes and
play presentations. In addition, the
stage was used for periodic lectures
in the college's national security se-
ries.
New uses for the old auditorium
in the Government House, following
its completion, are being considered.
"Seminars, fundraising events
and gala balls are very potential


Preservation Board's Rita O'Brien looks over an old fireplace. By JIM LANE, Staff


uses for the space in the future,"
said Hector Miron, HSAPB executive
director. "The Government House
will become much more useful and
more accessible to the public."
Miron plans to expand all the ex-
hibit cases in order to better display
the artifacts. There are also plans to
install a handicapped ramp by the
entrance to the lobby.
Since the end of the 16th century,
the site and configuration of Govern-
ment House have changed several
times. It's been the location of feder-
al offices, state institutions and local
organizations.
The first known structure on the
site was the residence of Spanish
Gov. Gonzalo Mendez de Canzo, built
facing the original town square in
1598.
In 1690, the house was rebuilt into
two stories, but was burned by Brit-
ish troops in 1702 after their unsuc-
cessful siege on the town. Recon-


struction which began in 1713
changed its structure to an L shape.
A fourth renovation occurred in
1759, and again in 1763 by the English
as Government House and Florida
passed into British ownership.
Drastic reconstruction took place
when the Spanish rule returned in
1785, and finally, 11 years after Flori-
da was bought by the United States,
Government House was under recon-
struction in 1833 to be used in part as
a courtroom and for other civil func-
tions.
The Post Office occupied one
room, but the building was labeled
the "Courthouse" because it was
used for mainly federal functions.
The Civil War called for another
remodeling in ,73, when the Post Of-
fice and Cusths were the only fed-
eral tenantsFinally, in 1936, postal
needs led to1the reconstruction of a
larger facility.
While Government House was


home to the Post Office and Customs
service, other tenants at the same
time included the Coast Guard, Na-
tional Park Service, FBI agents, the
Peabody School, an artist and a
bank.
The St. Augustine Historical Res-
toration and Preservation Commis-
sion, now the HSAPB, inherited the
administration of the Government
House when the property was trans-
ferred in 1966 to the state of Florida
as a public monument.
Some of the building's original co-
quina foundation still is preserved to-
day. A few of its original coquina
walls still stand, and the board is
planning to replace the original mar-
ble on the lobby walls, which was
taken down in Flagler's era.
"It's a good thing we saved some
of it," Scott remarked. The preserva-
tion board, he said, tries to keep in-
tact as much of the history as it can.




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