CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE
An Assessment of Potential Archaeological Resources in the
Marina Complex of the San Sebastian Project,
Phase I (BDAC 94-0828)
Carl D. Halbirt
Planning and Building Division
November 2, 1995
This report is in response to a letter sent to the City of St. Augustine by the Division
of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, to the Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville
District (Appendix A). The Department of State and the Corps are mandated by the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-665), as amended, to review projects for potential impacts
to cultural resources as specified in 36 C.F.R., Part 800 ("Protection of Historic Properties"). The
letter addresses proposed development by the City of St. Augustine of the marina area, as identified
in the San Sebastian Project, and the potential impact this project might have on historical properties
either listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places.
In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966,
the City of St. Augustine has prepared this assessment of the cultural resources (both historical and
archaeological) within the proposed marina area of the San Sebastian Project (Figure 1). This study
is based on the inspection of historical documents and maps on file at the St. Augustine Historical
Society and on a reconnaissance survey of the proposed marina area. The results of these
investigations are discussed separately.
Historical use of the San Sebastian project area, including the proposed marina, did
not begin until the late 1800s, when Henry M. Flagler and his associates developed the property as
an industrial complex. From 1885 until 1981, the property was the location of utility plants that
serviced the gas and electrical needs of the City's residents and businesses, along with other business
ventures. Eventually the complex became obsolete and almost all of the buildings were demolished;
however, its early existence underscores the City's progressive attitudes toward growth and
City of St. Augustine
AL PARKING SPACES N WEST PARXK:.'G 246
SAN SEBASTIAN RIVER
CONCIEPTU'AAL MASTER PLAN
SAN SEIBASTAN DEVELOPMENT
S CTY OF ST. AUOUST]ME
CPACIT Y OF AYUSTINE
CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Figure 1. San Sebastian Project Area. Shaded area is the marina basin and complex.
Asterix (*) indicates the location of documented historic bridge remnants (see Figure 5).
development at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Photocopies of historical maps and documents dating from the eighteenth century
on were initially consulted for details on the presence of historical properties that may exist within
the area of the proposed marina. The maps revealed that prior to the mid-1800s the property was
part of an extensive marshlands associated with the San Sebastian River (Figure 2). The only cultural
features near the marina, prior to the mid-1800s, were two bridges that crossed the river in the area
that is now King Street, between U.S. 1 and Malaga Street.
The first bridge was constructed during the initial decade of the British Period (1764-
1783). This bridge consisted of a timber-frame structure and an earthen causeway that spanned the
San Sebastian River and marsh. A schematic drawing of the bridge was made by Lieutenant James
Moncriefin 1767, which shows the profile of the structure across the river (Figure 3). The bridge
was used only a few years after which it was abandoned in favor of a ferry system situated
approximately one-half mile to the south, at a sharp bend in the river. This ferry crossing was shown
on the Purcell Map of 1777 (Figure 4). Archaeological investigations along King Street
documented a section of a log-frame structure (Figure 5), which may have been part of the earthen
causeway over the marsh during the British Period (Halbirt 1994). No artifactual evidence was
recovered from the bridge deposits that would indicate a date of construction or use, however.
Vestiges of a causeway were apparent in the 1820s and 1830s, and were utilized as a property
boundary on land surveys during the 1890s (Figure 6).
The second bridge that traversed the San Sebastian River was a coquina stone
structure built in 1839 and repaired in 1851. During the Civil War, the bridge was destroyed by
Confederates upon their departure from St. Augustine in 1862. It was not until 1870 that the bridge
was reconstructed-a ferry system had been used in the interim (Halbirt 1994). The coquina bridge
City of St. Augustine
Figure 2. Portion of the 1971 USGS topographic map, St. Augustine
Quad. Shaded area is limits of 1860 marsh. Proposed marina basin
and complex shown in circle.
City of St. Augustine
Figure 3. Lt. James Moncrief's 1767 drawing of the bridge crossing the San Sebastian
City of St. Augustine
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T'- ' ,'c..
-.. -r -'~-t-~ci~k~rru. ~"
Figure 4. Portion of the Purcell Map of 1777 showing ferry
crossings south of project area. Arrow points to approximate
location of marina area.
City of St. Augustine
water pipe trench
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Figure 5. Profile view of the historic bridges that crossed the San Sebastian River.
Location is near the intersection of King and Malaga Streets.
City of St. Augustine
1835 marsh edge
tI 1886 King Street
street deeded to US in 1828
Figure 6. Portion of the 1893 Plan, Estate of the Late Andrew Anderson, St. Augustine.
was demolished in the early twentieth century in favor of a newer concrete bridge (Halbirt 1994).
Archaeological remains of the nineteenth-century bridge consist of five courses of coquina stone that
become progressively smaller from bottom to top (Figure 5). At the base of the bridge was a broad
wooden beam that appears to have been worked with an adze. This beam formed the foundation of
the bridge in the soft marsh mud of the San Sebastian River. (A similar technique was used in the
construction of a bridge that crossed Maria Sanchez Creek from the 1830s until the 1880s [City
Site File BDAC 91-0031].)
Excluding the two bridges and associated earthen causeways, there is no evidence for
archaeological deposits--of a structural nature--near the proposed marina area prior to the mid-
1800s. The earliest documented instance is illustrated on the Dorr Map of 1860 (Figure 7), which
shows a "saw mill" and dock on an elevated area of land directly west of Bridge Street. It is
uncertain when the saw mill became operational. Based on a newspaper account, it is possible that
the mill may have been in use as early as the late 1840s:
...the sound of the saw-mill is again hard in our midst; it is music to
the ear, which we hope will not soon again be silenced (Ancient City,
January 5, 1850).
Subsequent maps of the area illustrate the gradual reclamation of the marshlands and
the development of industrial and public service enterprises. The Norris, Wellge, and Swift Map of
1885 (Figure 8) shows that within 25 years (that is, from 1860 to 1885) a large portion of the marsh
between Bridge and Cedar Streets had been reclaimed by depositing fill dirt. At that time two saw
mills were in operation: the "St. Sebastian Saw and Planing Mill," owned by D. R. Knolton (No. 45)
and the "St. Augustine Saw Mill," owned by William J. Reyes (No. 46). The latter mill was referred
to as Dr. H. C. Sloggett's mill in the 1885 City directory, the same date as the Norris, Wellge, and
City of St. Augustine
Figure 7. Portion.of.the.DorriMap of 1860. Arrow points to
saw mill and dock. Proposed marina basin and complex is shown
r ~3"'-T~T -'-
--'-~-' ~"~LII~-----~- ...--- --
------- -- --;':
City of St. Augustine
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Figure 8. Portion of the Norris, Wellge, and Swift Map of 1885. Arrow points to saw
mills to the west of Bridge Street.
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By 1889 the remainder of the marsh up to King Street had been reclaimed. A
newspaper account in the St. Augustine Weekly News (1889) praised Flagler "for filling in the
marshlands west of Riberia Street (Nolan 1985:4). The Ritchie Map of 1894 (Figure 9) shows the
continual development of the area into an industrial complex of lumber mills, warehouses, boiler
facilities, rail lines, and storage tanks. A few years later, Flagler also had built a hospital at what
now is the location of the St. Augustine Police Station, erected in 1994.
Included within the assortment of structures built by Flagler is the still-standing St.
Augustine Transfer Company building at 90 Riberia Street. The building was constructed
sometime between 1887 and 1889 to house the horses and carriages used to service Flagler's hotels
during the winter months. It was "another improvement" according to the Weekly News (Nolan
1985:4). In the 1920s the building was remodeled for use as a Dodge auto dealership and garage,
and it was the site for nefarious activities by some of the nation's more notorious gangsters, including
Al Capone. The history and lore of this structure has been summarized by David Nolan (1985).
From the 1890s until the mid-twentieth century, the area south of King Street and
west of Riberia Street continued to be used for industrial and public service enterprises. The
Sanbore Fire Insurance maps of 1899, 1904, 1910, 1917, 1924, and 1930 show a series of buildings
(and a succession of owners) in the San Sebastian project area. Two of the principal landowners
were the St. Augustine Gas and Electric Light Company and the St. Johns Light and Power
Company. Both companies were situated within the proposed marina area.
The formation of the St. Augustine Gas and Electric Light Company was the result
of City Ordinance No. 255 signed by Mayor J. G. Long on April 27, 1885, which called for the
creation of a new utility to service St. Augustine's residential and commercial properties. The
City of St. Augustine
Figure 9. Portion of the Ritchie Map of 1894. San Sebastian Project Area outlined
in bold. Arrow points to proposed marina area.
company was founded by W. G. Warden, one of Flagler's associates. Within a few years of the
ordinance the company was supplying what was known as "water gas," a product of coal, oil, and
steam that produced 500 BTUs per cubic foot (Sutton 1982). The Ritchie Map of 1894 (Figure 9)
shows some of the early buildings on the property, including gasometer tanks and a boiler. By 1899
the complex at Riberia Street consisted of more than a dozen buildings devoted to the production of
water gas. The company continued to produce water gas until World War II when coal scarcity and
complaints about pollutant by-products necessitated a change to propane gas. After World War II,
the company ownership changed several times. In 1981, the company discontinued plant operations
at the location that had been its home for more than 90 years. Despite its name, the St. Augustine
Gas and Electric Light Company never did produce electricity. That part of the business was sold
to St. Johns Light and Power Company in 1906.
The St. Johns Light and Power initially was established in 1905 as the St. Augustine
Electric Company. Its name was changed a year later when the company was awarded a contract by
the City to provide both commercial and street lighting. On February 15, 1906, the lights were
turned on "for a number of business houses" in the downtown (Anonymous 1906; Shaver 1982).
The plant complex consisted of an engine room of AC generators, furnaces, garages, coal storage
buildings, and a laundry room. Later in the 1920s an ice house was added to the complex. The ice
house is all that remains of St. Augustine's first power plant, and is the only contributing property to
the Lincolnville National Historic District, west of Riberia Street. The building is situated just outside
the southeast boundary of the proposed marina site. In the 1926, St. Johns Light and Power was sold
to the newly formed Florida Power and Light Company who continued to use the power plant until
1966, after which it is listed as vacant in the City directories.
Nothing of the once-thriving industrial complex remains within the proposed marina
basin and complex area. The power plant associated with St. Johns Light and Power was demolished
in 1976 for safety reasons (Anonymous 1976). The last structure associated with St. Augustine Gas
and Electric Light--the mammoth gas tank, built in 1928--was dismantled in 1982 (Sutton 1982).
The rubble associated with the various structures was removed and the property filled and graded,
forming a level surface.
As a means of determining whether or not the proposed marina site is eligible to the
National Register of Historic Places, the property was inspected for archaeological remains, notably
the remnants of historical buildings associated with the industrial complex. A pedestrian survey was
conducted of the marina. The survey involved a series of random transects both within the marsh
and on dry land to determine the presence of archaeological remains. The survey was not impeded
significantly by vegetation or modem disturbances. Most of the property was covered only with
ground vegetation (grasses and weeds) providing a clear view of the project area, although some
dense patches of shrubby and trees were present in elevated areas. Spoil piles of asphalt, concrete,
and other construction debris also were scattered throughout the property, and it was generally these
locations that contained the patches of dense vegetation.. Some of the spoil piles are known to have
covered areas that once contained historical buildings.
Archaeological remains of St. Augustine's early industrial heritage are still apparent
on the property as foundation footers, concrete slabs to floors, remnants to railroad beds, and
depressions where gas tanks once stood. Most of the features documented during the reconnaissance
survey occurred at ground level and constitute remains that were not subject to demolition. Figure
10 shows the location of 11 archaeological features observed during the reconnaissance survey that
City of St. Augustine
nr4 w street
KEY TO NUMBERS
Concrete foundation to private garage
Concrete foundations and floors to two buildings
associated with gas treatment plant
Concrete foundation to oil tank
Concrete foundation and floor to coal shed
Brick pier foundations to coal shed
Concrete foundation and depression'to gas tank
Concrete foundation and depression to gas tank
Concrete walls, standing structure
Rubble remains to brick structure
Gravel beds to railroad
Dock area, wooden piers and metal structure
Figure 10. Location of historic structures in marina area.
Shaded area is marina basin. Solid line is marina complex.
Numbers are observable archaeological features.
represent the remnants to historical buildings constructed between 1899 and 1924. The location of
these features were determined using the 1924 Sanborne Fire Insurance Map.
Observed within that area that will be used as a parking lot (see Figure 1) were the
following archaeological features: the concrete foundations and floors to two buildings associated
with the gas treatment plant (No. 2 on Figure 10); the concrete foundation to a private garage (No.
1); the concrete foundation and floor to an oil tank (No. 3); and a depression and concrete
foundation to one of the gasometer tanks that were present on the property. Another gasometer tank
that would have occurred in the area, as shown on the 1924 Sanborne Fire Insurance Map (designated
as A on Figure 10), was not observed during the reconnaissance survey; however, a large asphalt
spoil pile may have covered any evidence of this feature.
Seven archaeological features are present within that area designated as the marina
basin and complex (see Figure 1). Four of these features were documented on the 1924 Sanborne
Fire Insurance: the concrete foundations and floor to a coal shed (No. 4 on Figure 10); the brick
piers to another coal shed (No. 5); the depression and concrete foundation to a gasometer tank (No.
6); and the remnants of two railroad beds that are identified as slightly raised, linear mounds of gravel
(No. 10). These rail lines provided coal and oil to the industrial complexes along Riberia Street.
The other three archaeological features, documented in the proposed marina area,
were not illustrated on the Sanborne Maps--the maps do not cover the entire industrial complex. One
feature (No. 8) consists of a concrete structure with walls that rise 3 ft above the existing marsh.
This structure measures 42 ft (NW-SE) by 25 ft (NE-SW) and parallels the railroad lines that
serviced the utilities. All that remains of the second building is the rubble from the brick columns
and portions of a brick wall that encompassed an area of approximately 700 sq ft. The brick rubble
is approximately 70 ft west of the concrete structure. The location of the buildings on either side
of the railroad beds suggests that they were used as storage facilities similar to Numbers 4 and 5 on
Figure 10. All that remains of the dock is a series of wooden piers that supports the remnants of a
Discussion and Recommendation
Archaeological investigation of the marina area was predicated on the possibility that
archaeological remains of a historical nature would be present that could be eligible for the National
Register. A previous review of the Florida Site Files, by the Florida Department of State, did not
reveal the presence of any documented sites (see Appendix A). The State still requested, however,
that the property be surveyed and evaluated for archaeological remains by a SOPA (Society of
Professional Archaeologists) certified archaeologist.
The results of the reconnaissance survey documented 11 archaeological features
associated with either the historic St. Augustine Gas and Electric Company or the historic St. Johns
Light and Power Company. Four of these features are within the proposed parking lot and will not
be directly affected by the construction of the marina basin and complex. Features that are outside
the impact area consist of the remains to two gas treatment buildings, a private garage, and gas and
oil tanks. The remaining seven archaeological features are within the proposed marina area and will
be adversely affected by construction activities. Represented are the remains of four storage
structures, railroad lines, a gas tank, and a.dock.
Most of the archaeological features documented are ground-level deposits that
consist of concrete floors, concrete footer foundations, brick pier foundations, and underground
features (such as pipes and the bases of gas and oil storage tanks). These remains were not subject
to demolition. The two exceptions to this pattern are the remains of a concrete structure and a dock
found within the proposed marina basin. These latter two archaeological features extend
approximately 3 ft above the ground surface.
Although the historical importance of the proposed marina area cannot be
equivocated, the significance of the archaeological features as potentially eligible to the National
Register is questionable. All that remains are the building outlines or depressions. There is no
evidence to indicate the architectural style of the buildings except in old photographs. In addition to
the lack of architectural attributes, the historical heritage of the property is relatively recent--only
having been used for 100 years. Prior to that, the area was marshlands with no evidence for human
activities. For this reason, the City of St. Augustine in its Archaeological Preservation Ordinance
of 1987 (amended in 1990) declined to include the proposed marina area as a protected
archaeological zone even though it is adjacent to Zone mIA, which protects archaeological deposits
within the historic African-American community of Lincolnville.
The significance of archaeological deposits at the proposed marina area has been
evaluated by means of a review of the historical literature and a reconnaissance survey of the
property. Based on these two criteria, the marina basin and complex is not viewed as being eligible
to the National Register of Historic Places. It is recommended, however, that the proposed marina
area be recorded on the Florida Site File. The 11 archaeological features documented during the
reconnaissance survey also should be mapped, using modem surveying equipment to record the
location of archaeological remains relative to each other and the overall landscape, and photographed
prior to construction activities. These steps would ensure the proper documentation of the historical
features for posterity prior to their being disturbed by construction activities associated with the
development of the marina basin and complex.
1906 Electric current. St. Augustine Evening Record 7(144:5).
1976 City's first power plant demolished. The St. Augustine Record 75(132):1
Halbirt, Carl D.
1994 Archaeological Project Status Report, October 1994: Intersection of King Street and
Malaga Street. MS on file, Planning and Building Department, City of St. Augustine.
1985 Old building has interesting history. MS on file, St. Augustine Historical Society.
1982 St. Augustine wasn't far behind rest of country in electricity. The St. Augustine Record
1982 End of an Era. The St. Augustine Record 81(150):1
Letter from Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources
Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
1:44 PM APC. FIELD. UNIT. PAL. FL
FAX NO. 1 904 328 1298 P. 15
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Sandra B. Mortham
Secretary of State
DIVISION OF HISTORICAL RESOURCES
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250
Director's Office Telecopier Number (FAX)
(904) 488-1480 (904) 488-3353
August 30, 1995
Mr. Johi R. Hall, Chief In Reply Refer To:
Regulatory Division, Permits Branch Frank J. Keel
Jacksonville District, Corps of Engineers Historic Sites Specialist
P.O. Box 4970 (904) 487-2333
Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019 Project File No. 952909
RE: Cultural Resource Assessment Request
USACOE Permit Application No. 199201787 (IP-TH)
Applicant: City of St. Augustine
St. Johns County, Florida
Dear Mr. Hall:
In accordance with the procedures contained in 36 C.F.R., Part 800 ("Protection of Historic
Properties"), we have reviewed the referenced projects) for possible impact to historic properties
listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. The authority for this
procedure is the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-665), as amended.
A review of the Florida Site File indicated that there are no archaeological or historic sites
recorded within the project area. However, the lack of recorded historic properties is not
considered significant because the area has never been subjected to a systematic, professional
survey to locate such properties.. It is, therefore, the opinion of this office that there is a
reasonable probability of project activities impacting historic properties potentially eligible for
listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Since potentially significant archaeological and historic sites may be present, it is our
recommendation that, prior to initiating any project related land clearing or ground disturbing
activities within the project area, it should be subjected to a systematic, professional
archaeological and historical survey. The purpose of this survey will be to locate and-assess the
significance of historic properties present. The resultant survey report must conform to the
specifications set forth in Chapter IA-46, Florida Administrative Code and will need to be
forwarded to this agency in order to complete the process of reviewing the impact of this
proposed project on historic properties.