SPANISH DRAGOONS BARRACKS
The dragoons based in St. Augustine during the second
Spanish period moved iruto a newly repaired masonry structure
in 1792. These quarters were situated on the Present Span-
ish Street driveway of the lot owned by the Security Federal
Savings & Loan Association at 61 Cordova Street.
Cartographic evidence alone shows that the structure
which became the dragoons barracks was constructed prior to
1763. The property is actually described as two houses in
the St. Augustine map of 1764 by Juan Jose Eligio de la
Puente, one of stone and the other of tabby, belonging to
Bartolom' Paten. It is represented as a three-unit complex
in the city's maps of 1663 by Pablo Castello, 1765 by James
Moncrief, and 1788 by Mariano de la Rocque. Moncrief showed
further that the property's owner was a Mr. Sharp.
The best description of the three-unit complex is that
portrayed by the Rocque map. Two of the structures, one
about eight feet to the south of the other, had their east
sides abutting on the [Spanish] street line and faced each
other. The third structure, just west of the preceding two,
closed the eight-foot space between them. The first two
had porches facing each other, and a partition in the middle,
although the south structure had additionally a small room
at the east end of the porch.
150 EL ESCRIBANO
The notebook accompanying Rocque's map identified the
property as Lot No. 124 of Block No. 16. The property was
described as a two-story masonry house in bad condition,
divided inside by tabby partitions. The house and lot be-
longed to the Crown.
The structure went unbidded for at the public sale of
Crown property to individuals held in 1791. It therefore re-
mained as royal property.
The dragoons had been billeted in the British-built,
E-shaped barracks just south of the present Florida National
Guard Headquarters at St. Francis Street. But this building
burned down on May 25, 1792. The East Florida governor con-
sequently ordered the structure in Spanish Street repaired
to provide the cavalrymen with new quarters. On the follow-
ing August 17, Engineer Rocque, having finished the job, de-
livered the structure to the Government.
At the time, the new dragoons barracks was described as
a two-story, shingle-roofed, tabby-floored, masonry structure,
33 feet long and 18 1/2 feet wide. The two rooms on each
story had a door of hoja partida (Dutch style?) at the stair-
way and four other single-leafed doors, all of which were
equipped with three locks, four bolts, and hinges. There
were in addition single-leaf doors at the entrance, the com-
partment under the stairway, and to the yard, all of which
had hinges and bolts. The rooms had also five single-leaf,
six partidas (double hung?), and a Roman-type windows, all
of which were secured by small bolts. One of the upper rooms
DRAGOONS BARRACKS 151
contained a rack each for 20 muskets and 40 pistols and
for the saddles, a table, and two benches.
Besides the barracks, there were three other detached
structures on the lot, which measured 217 1/4 feet on the
east and west boundaries and 181 1/2 feet on the north and
south. The masonry kitchen had tabby floor, a single-
leaf door and four windows with hinges and bolts, and a
shingle-covered chimney. The stable was shingle-roofed,
board-lined, and divided in stalls. The privy was made
of boards. A well was lined and curbed with stone. In
the west fence there was a large, two-leafed, framed gate
with large hinges and wooden locking bar. Along the fence
there were orange, lemon, and fig trees.
With modifications the complex delivered to the Gov-
ernment in 1792 and that mapped by Rocque in 1788 are the
same. The given measurements of the two-story quarters
correspond with those obtained from the map for the south
structure. The stable must have been in the structure shown
north on the map. The kitchen must have been in the struc-
ture to the west.
The condition of the dragoons barracks was the subject
of two reports twelve years later. On February 11, 1804,
Engineer Manuel de Hita remarked that the structure, though
small, was adequate for the size of the detachment. If it
became necessary to expand the quarters, the lot afforded
ample space. Although the roof frame of the structure was
sound, the roof itself was rotted and leaky, and some of
152 EL ESCRIBANO
the walls were cracked. There was no stable and no hope of
fixing one in a detached structure because the latter was
about to become a ruin. By September 25, when Hita reported
again, the roof of the detached structure had fallen. Even
sick horses were kept outdoors as there was no stable what-
On January 7, 1820, the Dragones de America detachment
commander complained to the East Florida governor about the
poor condition of the barracks where his cavalrymen were bil-
leted. On the 12th the governor ordered the engineer to in-
spect the structure, report on its condition, and submit an
estimate of the cost of whatever repairs were required.10
The following day, Engineer Nicolas de Fano reported that he
had inspected the dragoons barracks, together with Master
mason Don Joaquin Sanchez and Master carpenter Francisco Ma-
rin, and found that it was beyond repair. The south and west
walls were out of alignment with their foundations and, to-
gether with the other two walls, cracked from top to bottom
in many places. The rotted roof was unrepairable because
the walls would not hold it. To repair it, the structure
would have to be razed and built anew. To make an estimate
of repair cost only would therefore be impractical.
On the ensuing February 17, Engineer Fano reported on
the condition of public buildings in St. Augustine. Except
for the royal hospital and the smithy, which had been repaired
lately, all the other structures were rapidly becoming total
ruins. One of these was the dragoons barracks. However,
DRAGOONS BARRACKS 153
on the 26th the East Florida governor informed Fano of the
time when the Captain General of Cuba and the Two Floridas
thought it proper to proceed with rebuilding of that struc-
For the transfer of East Florida to the United States
in 1821, Engineer Ramon de la Cruz prepared an inventory
of all the public buildings in St. Augustine. De la Cruz
described the dragoons barracks as located in Lot No. 124
of Block 16. The barracks was a house with two rooms each
in the lower and upper stories. It was uninhabitable be-
cause the east, south, and west walls were down. The lot
itself was, according to the engineer, the only feature
worth inventorying. Yet a recently roofed, earth-floored
kitchen with chimney and door was in good condition.1
The War Department held title to the public property
in St. Augustine transferred from Spain to the United States.
But apparently the department must have granted permission
for the use of the dragoons barracks by other parties. For
instance, on September 9, 1821, the city-appointed committee
on public property, formed to ascertain possible uses of
military property by civilian authorities, recommended that
the dragoons barracks and its lot be sold. Next, the city
council authorized the mayor on November 23, 1822 to have
the barracks razed and the stoned piled in the small house
on the lot. Mr. R. Loring had brought the building down
by January 20, 1823, and the stone was sold at a public
auction held March 10, at no less than $8 a square with the
154 EL ESCRIBANO
purchasers paying half the measuring. And finally, by
February 1, 1827, a Mrs. M. Cooke (?) had placed improve-
ments on the lot, which were purchased by G. P. Clarke.
The measurements of the dragoons barracks lot were re-
corded by the Clements Survey of 1834-35. The lot belonged
to the United States, and it measured 248 feet on the east,
224 feet on the west, 179 feet on the north, and 156 feet on
In 1841 the United States cancelled whatever permits
it had granted for use of its property by the city council.
The property involved the old hospital, used as the council
room, the old gunpowder magazine, and the dragoons barracks
lot. The council authorized the mayor to procure the passage
of a law by Congress granting those properties to the city.22
Either the mayor did not make a move or Congress did not oblige,
but anyway on February 9, 1842 the President reserved the dra-
goons barracks lot as part of the St. Augustine military re-
Later the United States permitted another use for the
dragoons barracks lot. In 1864 the Freedman's Aid Society
established a school for black children on it and in 1870
the Secretary of War entrusted the lot to Fatio Dunham, George
W. Atwood, Josue W. Riley, and Pablo Gray. Later a cottage
for the school was built by Dr. Oliver Bronson and turned
over to the American Missionary Society.24
A report on the St. Augustine military reservation ac-
companied with maps was submitted by Engineer Liut. Col. Q. A.
DRAGOONS BARRACKS 155
Gillmore on October 22, 1880. The map representing the
dragoons barracks lot recorded that the tract measured
214 feet 7 inches on the east, 209 feet 11 inches on the
west, 253 feet on the north, and 221 feet on the south.
These measurements, however, did not exclude the encroach-
ments of the property owners on the north and south, Mark
and Antonia Andreu and Santiago Gonzalez respectively.
The map also showed a structure labeled "school," 33 feet
long and 15 feet wide with a porch 10 feet long and 3 feet
wide, facing Spanish Street and about 23 feet west of the
street line. South of this structure and forming a right
angle with it, there was a second structure, also labeled
"school," 15 feet square with porches on its east and west
The Gillmore report shows that the size of the dra-
goons barracks lot had increased since acquisition by the
United States. In 1821, the lot had measured 217 feet 3
inches on its east and west sides and 181 feet 6 inches on
the north and south. By 1880, the length of the east and
west sides had decreased to 214 feet 7 inches and 209 feet
11 inches respectively, but the shrinkage was more than
compensated by the increase of the length of the north and
south sides to 253 feet and 221 feet respectively.
The War Department turned the dragoons barracks lot
over to the Department of the Interior on November 20, 1886.
The lot was no longer needed for military purposes.
1. Brooks Transcripts from the Spanish Archives in Sevilla
relating to Florida 1627-1809, 5 vols. (Library of
Congress): Statement. ., Don Juan Nepomuceno de Que-
sada, St. Augustine, Florida, December 19, 1792, in
volume V, wherein he wrote, "Another house belonging to
the King, which had not been sold at public auction, has
been put in order and is occupied by the dragoons who are
now comfortably quartered."
2. East Florida Papers (LC), Bundle 320, No. 52: Florida,
Ano de 1790. Inventarios, tasaciones y venta en public
remate de las casas y solares del Rey, entry No. 153 up-
dated to 1803.
3. EFP, B. 23, No. 270: Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada
of East Florida to the Captain General of Cuba, St. Au-
gustine, May 27, 1792.
4. EFP, B. 260, No. 1: Inventario formado por el Ingeniero
interino del detalle, Don Ram6n de la Cruz. ., St. Au-
gustine, June 4, 1821, 46 ff.
5. EFP, B. 277, No. 52: Inventario hecho por el Ingeniero
Comandante, Don Mariano de la Rocque, con intervenci6n
del Sargento Mayor de esta plaza, Don Manuel de Aldana,
de la casa de mamposteria para alojamiento del Destaca-
mento de Dragones que guarnece dicha plaza y caballos
del Rey, situada en la manzana No. 16 y solar 124, que
consta en el cuaderno del piano de la ciudad, St. Augus-
tine, August 17, 1792.
6. EFP, B. 260, No. 1.
7. EFP, B. 277, No. 52; EFP, B. 171, No. 118: Mariano de la
Rocque, Relaci6n de los reparos ejecutados en los edifi-
cios del Rey. ., St. Augustine, December 31, 1792, 5 ff.
8. EFP, B. 171, No. 371: Engineer Manuel de Hita of East
Florida to Governor Enrique White of East Florida, St. Au-
gustine, February 11, 1804, 24 ff., reporting on condition
of fortifications and public buildings.
9. EFP, B. 171, No. 400: Hita to White, September 25, 1804,
6 ff., in supplementary report on condition of fortifica-
tions and public buildings.
10. EFP, B. 172, No. 212: [The governor of East Florida] to
Engineer Nicolas de Fano of East Florida, [St. Augustine],
January 12, 1820, 1 f.
11. EFP, B. 172, No. 213: [Engineer Nicol's de Fano of
East Florida to the governor of East Florida, St. Au-
gustine], January 13, 1820, 3 ff. Incomplete manu-
12. EFP, B. 172, No. 224: Fano, Relaci6n. ., St. Au-
gustine, February 17, 1820, 19 ff.
13. EFP, B. 172, No. 229: Fano to Governor Jose Coppinger
of East Florida, tt. Augustine, February 28, 1820, 1 f.
14. EFP, B. 260, No. 1.
15. C. E. Carter Compp. and ed), The Territorial Papers
of the United States, vol. XXII: The Territory of
Florida 1821-1824 (Washington: National Archives,
16. St. Augustine City Council Minutes, November 23,
17. Ibid., December 30, 1822.
18. Ibid., January 20, 1823.
19. Ibid., March 5, 1823; East Florida Herald, St. Augus-
tine, Saturday, March 8, 1823.
20. St. Augustine City Council, Miscellaneous Papers,
G. F. Clarke (for G. P. Clarke) to City, February 1,
21. Florida Department of Agriculture (Tallahassee). Field
Notes of the Survey of the City of St. Augustine in the
4th quarter of 1834 and 1st quarter of 1835, by Benjamin
and J. B. Clements.
22. St. Augustine City Council Minutes, 1836-1854, June 15,
23. U. S., Congress, Senate, 41st Congress, 2d session,
24. Captain J. C. Post and Lieut. Col. Q. A. Gillmore,
Report on U. S. Properties in St. Augustine, 1880.
25. Engineer Lieut. Col. Q. A. Gillmore to the Chief of
Engineers, October 22, 1880.
26, Executive Order, November 18, 1886.