Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Plaza: Constitution Monument
Title: [Updated version of the Historical Report Constitution Monument]
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095508/00026
 Material Information
Title: Updated version of the Historical Report Constitution Monument
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Plaza: Constitution Monument
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Publication Date: 2001
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Plaza - General Info.
Folder: Plaza: Constitution Monument
 Subjects
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Plaza de la Constitucion (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Constitution Plaza (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.892493 x -81.312335
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095508
Volume ID: VID00026
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

The following is an updated version of the Historical Report -Constitution
Monument produced by Historic Property Associates in 1988 prior to stabilization
work performed that year on the monument. The original report did not include
citations or a bibliography of the sources consulted. In the updated version, the
report has been amended to include citations when primary sources could be
matched to the text.
The report is based primarily on the Cabildo of San Agustin documents which
are found in Section 50, Reels 89 and 90, and Section 93, Reel 174 of the East
Florida Papers, located at the University of Florida. Additional resources are
located at the St. Augustine Historical Society and the City of St. Augustine's
Historic Preservation Department.

Cecile-Marie Sastre, Ph.D.
Historian
St. Augustine, Florida
March 4, 2001





Historical Report
Constitution Monument

The Constitution Monument is St. Augustine's oldest and most significant
monument. The Plaza is the central feature of the Colonial City Historic
District. The district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The
Plaza, a principal component of the town plan of 1595, formed part of the
colonial town's commercial, religious and governmental life. Over the centuries
it has been the focal point of public ceremonies, improvement drives and tree
plantings. It has included many features over the years, among them an alligator
pond and an open bandstand popular for music and political rallies. The original
Plaza area has been augmented by additional green spaces created after World War
I. The additional spaces consist of two small parks east of the public market
place and a third west of government house. The Plaza has not only been a famous
scenic site for tourists, it is located at the center of the town's commercial,
religious, and governmental life.

The Constitution Monument is the oldest above surface feature of the plaza.
It is located at the west end of the Plaza near St. George Street. The monument
was constructed between 1813 and 1814. On August 14, 1812 the Spanish Cortes
promulgated a royal decree naming all plazas where the newly-established
constitution was officially proclaimed to be called Plazas de la Constituci6n
(Constitution Squares).' On January 4, 1813 St. Augustine's Town Council met to
discuss the royal order. Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, senior alderman, and
Francisco Rovira, the town's attorney, were appointed to develop the plans and
specifications for the monument in order to determine its cost.

On January 19, 1813 Florida Governor Sebastian Kindelan informed St.
Augustine's Town Council of the above decree and instructed them that the naming
of the Plaza de la Constituci6n should be inscribed on a tablet (implication
seems to be marble or tile from another place since no suitable material was
available in St. Augustine).2 In May 1813 the town council met several times to
discuss the erection of the monument and the obstacles the Ayuntamiento faced in
its efforts to effect its construction. At this time,,the central plaza was
designated as the Plaza de la Constituci6n. By the end ofthe month, however, no
progress had been made and the construction of the monument had yet to begin.3
About that time the council appointed a committee to oversee the project with
Fernando de la Maza y Arredondo, Jr. appointed to oversee the committee and the
actual construction of the monument. On July 5 the committee requested the





Alcalde (mayor), Geronimo Albarez, to allocate the funds for the construction of
the monument.' In a letter to the Ayuntamiento, dated July 27, Mayor Albarez
protested the continued lack of progress in the erection of the monument.5 On
that date, Arredondo reported that only about 150 pesos had been collected. He
subsequently resigned from the construction committee in protest because the
funds were not in proportion to the significance of the monument. He was replaced
by Mayor Albarez and Alderman Eusebio Gomez as overseers of the construction.6

On August 2, the committee charged with the construction of the monument
presented a tentative design based on the funds available. The monument was to
be 30 feet in height. Mayor Alvarez asked permission to use the coquina rubble
from the Palacio Episcopal which was located on the south side of the plaza on
the present site of the Trinity Episcopal Church.7 On December 24, 1813 the town
council received 151 pesos for the construction of the monument. Construction of
the monument was completed in the latter part of January 1814.

On February 14, 1814 Alvarez and Gomez presented their account of the
materials used in the construction of the monument for approval. The principal
materials used in the construction of the monument were coquina and lime stucco.
The stucco was prepared from local oyster shells. Nine bushels of lime were
purchased from Mrs. Russell and another thirty-three from the widow of Mr.
(Jesse?) Fish. Part of the coquina came from a pallet of stone which had been set
aside for the construction of a bridge, but which was not used. Other materials
included large nails or spikes for scaffolding, wood for form boards, a drop
cloth, and an iron bar to support the perilla, the small pear-shaped pinnacle of
the monument. Part of the coquina ruins of the old Episcopal Church was used due
to the scarcity of materials.8

Local masons and laborers were responsible for the construction of the
monument. The master mason was named Maron. Two apprentices and a black laborer
assisted him. Two black laborers using a wagon removed coquina at low tide for
the cornice. The cornice was apparently pre-fabricated because there was a labor
charge for setting it separately on the monument. A mason named Benjamin Seguier
(Segui) assisted with the construction, and a master carpenter named Cercopoli
did minor carpentry work.

Construction of the monument lasted nearly three months. The first week the
master mason and the two apprentices constructed the scaffolding and a trough for
mixing mortar or stucco. The materials used were a drop cloth, 30 feet of
planking for the scaffolding and trough, and a pound of nails. No information is
available regarding the second and third weeks of construction. During the fourth
week, construction was apparently well under way for the apprentices were paid
for their services. Lime was also purchased, probably for making mortar. During
the fifth week the master mason and two apprentices worked on the project for two
and one-half days. During the seventh and eighth weeks the apprentices worked
four and one-half and two and one-half days respectively.

During the ninth week the apprentices worked six days. The base of the
monument was apparently complete or nearing completion at that time because the
materials for the cornice were delivered. The two black laborers removed large
pieces of coquina at low tide for the cornice. The stone must have come from
somewhere along the Matanzas Bay because no mention is made of a boat. A cart was
rented to transport the stone. During the tenth week the cornice was constructed.
The apprentices worked two days and a black helper worked one day handling the
coquina block. Three blacks worked half a day handling and lifting the cornice
into place. During the eleventh week the monument was completed. The master mason
and the apprentices worked two days. One-half day was spent in the assembly of
the scaffolding, apparently for the construction of the upper portion of the
monument. Thirteen bushels of lime were used, probably for the stucco finish that
was applied to dress the coquina. A brush was used, apparently to wet the coquina





in preparation for the application of the stucco.


After the monument was completed the constitutional government of Spain was
overthrown and the authority of King Ferdinand VII was restored. On September 15,
1814 a daily newspaper was received from Havana in which the city councilmen read
that tablets proclaiming the constitution had been removed from monuments in
other towns and cities and been substituted with the inscription "Plaza de
Fernando VII." Alderman Francisco Pons was ordered to removed the tablet from the
plaza. On January 18, 1815 a royal order, dated July 20, 1814, was received,
declaring the dissolution of the constitutional government and the local town
council. On May 4, 1820 the council was re-established as the result of the re-
proclamation of the 1812 constitution. On May 11, 1820 the tablet was once again
placed on the monument.

In 1953, the St. Augustine Historical Society had Herculite glass plate
placed over the original marble tablet on the east face of the monument. A
replica of the original tablet was placed on the west side and a bronze plaque,
with inscriptions in Spanish and English was installed on the base in 1955. The
origin of four smaller plaques on each side of the base is unknown. They were
written in a mixture of Spanish and English -- "Plaza de la Constitution" instead
of Plaza de la Constituci6n. There were many English speaking subjects living in
Spanish Florida at the time the monument was erected. Perhaps one of them was
responsible for the engraving.

The Constitution Monument has international significance. It is possibly
one of the few remaining monuments of the hundreds which were constructed at the
time the first Spanish constitution was proclaimed. Most were destroyed upon the
restoration of the monarchy. An interesting aspect of the tablet is the masonic
emblem engraved in the original tablet. Masons were instrumental in the movement
for constitutional government in the British colonies, Spain and Spanish America.
It is not surprising, therefore, to see a masonic symbol on a tablet celebrating
the Spanish constitution.

The information included above was obtained from records stored at the St.
Augustine Historical Society, the City of St. Augustine, and the Historic St.
Augustine Preservation Board. Sources included the Florida Master Site File, The
St. Augustine Record, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and other historic maps, and
the East Florida Papers.

1.Royal Order, Cadiz, May 2, 1812, East Florida Papers (hereafter EFP),
Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17, Doc. 1813-10; Letter to Senores Justicia
Regimiento, St. Augustine, January 19, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle
209A17, Doc. 1813-6; Letter from Bernardo Jose Segui, St. Augustine, January
26, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17; See also Antonio Cano
Manuel, "La Regencia del Reyno se ha servido dirigirme el Decreto que sigue:"
CAdiz, March 26, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17.

2.Letter to Senores Justicia Regimiento, St. Augustine, January 19, 1813, EFP,
Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17, Doc. 1813-6.

3.Geronimo Albarez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, May 17, 1813, EFP, Section
50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 10; Geronimo Albarez to Ayuntamiento, St.
Augustine, June 21, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 57.

4.Fernando de la Maza y Arredondo, Jr. to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, July 5,
1813, EFP, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 60.

5.Geronimo Albarez to the Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, July 27, 1813, Section
50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 63.
































6."Proceedings of the St. Augustine Ayuntamiento," 1812 1815, 1820 -1821,
EFP, Section 93, Reel 174, 1812 1813, Bundle 412.

7.Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio Maria Gomez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine,
August 2, 1813, EFP, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 79.

8.Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio Gomez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, February
7, 1814, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17; Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio
Gomez to the Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, February 7, 1814?, EFP, Section 50,
Reel 90, Bundle 210B17.





The following is an updated version of the Historical Report -Constitution
Monument produced by Historic Property Associates in 1988 prior to stabilization
work performed that year on the monument. The original report did not include
citations or a bibliography of the sources consulted. In the updated version, the
report has been amended to include citations when primary sources could be
matched to the text.
The report is based primarily on the Cabildo of San Agustin documents which
are found in Section 50, Reels 89 and 90, and Section 93, Reel 174 of the East
Florida Papers, located at the University of Florida. Additional resources are
located at the St. Augustine Historical Society and the City of St. Augustine's
Historic Preservation Department.

Cecile-Marie Sastre, Ph.D.
Historian
St. Augustine, Florida
March 4, 2001





Historical Report
Constitution Monument

The Constitution Monument is St. Augustine's oldest and most significant
monument. The Plaza is the central feature of the Colonial City Historic
District. The district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The
Plaza, a principal component of the town plan of 1595, formed part of the
colonial town's commercial, religious and governmental life. Over the centuries
it has been the focal point of public ceremonies, improvement drives and tree
plantings. It has included many features over the years, among them an alligator
pond and an open bandstand popular for music and political rallies. The original
Plaza area has been augmented by additional green spaces created after World War
I. The additional spaces consist of two small parks east of the public market
place and a third west of government house. The Plaza has not only been a famous
scenic site for tourists, it is located at the center of the town's commercial,
religious, and governmental life.

The Constitution Monument is the oldest above surface feature of the plaza.
It is located at the west end of the Plaza near St. George Street. The monument
was constructed between 1813 and 1814. On August 14, 1812 the Spanish Cortes
promulgated a royal decree naming all plazas where the newly-established
constitution was officially proclaimed to be called Plazas de la Constituci6n
(Constitution Squares).' On January 4, 1813 St. Augustine's Town Council met to
discuss the royal order. Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, senior alderman, and
Francisco Rovira, the town's attorney, were appointed to develop the plans and
specifications for the monument in order to determine its cost.

On January 19, 1813 Florida Governor Sebastian Kindelan informed St.
Augustine's Town Council of the above decree and instructed them that the naming
of the Plaza de la Constituci6n should be inscribed on a tablet (implication
seems to be marble or tile from another place since no suitable material was
available in St. Augustine).2 In May 1813 the town council met several times to
discuss the erection of the monument and the obstacles the Ayuntamiento faced in
its efforts to effect its construction. At this time, the central plaza was
designated as the Plaza de la Constituci6n. By the end of the month, however, no
progress had been made and the construction of the monument had yet to begin.3
About that time the council appointed a committee to oversee the project with
Fernando de la Maza y Arredondo, Jr. appointed to oversee the committee and the
actual construction of the monument. On July 5 the committee requested the





Alcalde (mayor), Geronimo Albarez, to allocate the funds for the construction of
the monument.4 In a letter to the Ayuntamiento, dated July 27, Mayor Albarez
protested the continued lack of progress in the erection of the monument.5 On
that date, Arredondo reported that only about 150 pesos had been collected. He
subsequently resigned from the construction committee in protest because the
funds were not in proportion to the significance of the monument. He was replaced
by Mayor Albarez and Alderman Eusebio Gomez as overseers of the construction.6

On August 2, the committee charged with the construction of the monument
presented a tentative design based on the funds available. The monument was to
be 30 feet in height. Mayor Alvarez asked permission to use the coquina rubble
from the Palacio Episcopal which was located on the south side of the plaza on
the present site of the Trinity Episcopal Church.7 On December 24, 1813 the town
council received 151 pesos for the construction of the monument. Construction of
the monument was completed in the latter part of January 1814.

On February 14, 1814 Alvarez and Gomez presented their account of the
materials used in the construction of the monument for approval. The principal
materials used in the construction of the monument were coquina and lime stucco.
The stucco was prepared from local oyster shells. Nine bushels of lime were
purchased from Mrs. Russell and another thirty-three from the widow of Mr.
(Jesse?) Fish. Part of the coquina came from a pallet of stone which had been set
aside for the construction of a bridge, but which was not used. Other materials
included large nails or spikes for scaffolding, wood for form boards, a drop
cloth, and an iron bar to support the perilla, the small pear-shaped pinnacle of
the monument. Part of the coquina ruins of the old Episcopal Church was used due
to the scarcity of materials.8

Local masons and laborers were responsible for the construction of the
monument. The master mason was named Maron. Two apprentices and a black laborer
assisted him. Two black laborers using a wagon removed coquina at low tide for
the cornice. The cornice was apparently pre-fabricated because there was a labor
charge for setting it separately on the monument. A mason named Benjamin Seguier
(Segui) assisted with the construction, and a master carpenter named Cercopoli
did minor carpentry work.

Construction of the monument lasted nearly three months. The first week the
master mason and the two apprentices constructed the scaffolding and a trough for
mixing mortar or stucco. The materials used were a drop cloth, 30 feet of
planking for the scaffolding and trough, and a pound of nails. No information is
available regarding the second and third weeks of construction. During the fourth
week, construction was apparently well under way for the apprentices were paid
for their services. Lime was also purchased, probably for making mortar. During
the fifth week the master mason and two apprentices worked on the project for two
and one-half days. During the seventh and eighth weeks the apprentices worked
four and one-half and two and one-half days respectively.

During the ninth week the apprentices worked six days. The base of the
monument was apparently complete or nearing completion at that time because the
materials for the cornice were delivered. The two black laborers removed large
pieces of coquina at low tide for the cornice. The stone must have come from
somewhere along the Matanzas Bay because no mention is made of a boat. A cart was
rented to transport the stone. During the tenth week the cornice was constructed.
The apprentices worked two days and a black helper worked one day handling the
coquina block. Three blacks worked half a day handling and lifting the cornice
into place. During the eleventh week the monument was completed. The master mason
and the apprentices worked two days. One-half day was spent in the assembly of
the scaffolding, apparently for the construction of the upper portion of the
monument. Thirteen bushels of lime were used, probably for the stucco finish that
was applied to dress the coquina. A brush was used, apparently to wet the coquina





in preparation for the application of the stucco.


After the monument was completed the constitutional government of Spain was
overthrown and the authority of King Ferdinand VII was restored. On September 15,
1814 a daily newspaper was received from Havana in which the city councilmen read
that tablets proclaiming the constitution had been removed from monuments in
other towns and cities and been substituted with the inscription "Plaza de
Fernando VII." Alderman Francisco Pons was ordered to removed the tablet from the
plaza. On January 18, 1815 a royal order, dated July 20, 1814, was received,
declaring the dissolution of the constitutional government and the local town
council. On May 4, 1820 the council was re-established as the result of the re-
proclamation of the 1812 constitution. On May 11, 1820 the tablet was once again
placed on the monument.

In 1953, the St. Augustine Historical Society had Herculite glass plate
placed over the original marble tablet on the east face of the monument. A
replica of the original tablet was placed on the west side and a bronze plaque,
with inscriptions in Spanish and English was installed on the base in 1955. The
origin of four smaller plaques on each side of the base is unknown. They were
written in a mixture of Spanish and English -- "Plaza de la Constitution" instead
of Plaza de la Constituci6n. There were many English speaking subjects living in
Spanish Florida at the time the monument was erected. Perhaps one of them was
responsible for the engraving.

The Constitution Monument has international significance. It is possibly
one of the few remaining monuments of the hundreds which were constructed at the
time the first Spanish constitution was proclaimed. Most were destroyed upon the
restoration of the monarchy. An interesting aspect of the tablet is the masonic
emblem engraved in the original tablet. Masons were instrumental in the movement
for constitutional government in the British colonies, Spain and Spanish America.
It is not surprising, therefore, to see a masonic symbol on a tablet celebrating
the Spanish constitution.

The information included above was obtained from records stored at the St.
Augustine Historical Society, the City of St. Augustine, and the Historic St.
Augustine Preservation Board. Sources included the Florida Master Site File, The
St. Augustine Record, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and other historic maps, and
the East Florida Papers.

1.Royal Order, Cadiz, May 2, 1812, East Florida Papers (hereafter EFP),
Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17, Doc. 1813-10; Letter to Senores Justicia
Regimiento, St. Augustine, January 19, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle
209A17, Doc. 1813-6; Letter from Bernardo Jose Segui, St. Augustine, January
26, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17; See also Antonio Cano
Manuel, "La Regencia del Reyno se ha servido dirigirme el Decreto que sigue:"
CAdiz, March 26, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17.

2.Letter to Senores Justicia Regimiento, St. Augustine, January 19, 1813, EFP,
Section 50, Reel 89, Bundle 209A17, Doc. 1813-6.

3.Geronimo Albarez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, May 17, 1813, EFP, Section
50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 10; Geronimo Albarez to Ayuntamiento, St.
Augustine, June 21, 1813, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 57.

4.Fernando de la Maza y Arredondo, Jr. to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, July 5,
1813, EFP, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 60.

5.Geronimo Albarez to the Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, July 27, 1813, Section
50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 63.
































6."Proceedings of the St. Augustine Ayuntamiento," 1812 1815, 1820 -1821,
EFP, Section 93, Reel 174, 1812 1813, Bundle 412.

7.Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio Maria Gomez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine,
August 2, 1813, EFP, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17, Doc. 79.

8.Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio Gomez to Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, February
7, 1814, EFP, Section 50, Reel 90, Bundle 210B17; Geronimo Albarez and Eusebio
Gomez to the Ayuntamiento, St. Augustine, February 7, 1814?, EFP, Section 50,
Reel 90, Bundle 210B17.




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