This is the house of a Spanish artilleryman, Martin Martinez Gallegos. He
lived here about 1750 with his wife Victoria and three young children, a son,
Joaquin, and two daughters, Rosalia and Francisca. Also living in the house
was an elderly, invalid, infantryman, Juan Garcia. This kind of arrangement was
not uncommon. In this case the house probably originally belonged to Garcia, who
had become gouty, and an agreement was made to share the house with Gallegos.
In the period from 1750 until the end of the First Spanish Period (1763)
there were approximately 3,000 people living in St. Augustine (most of them
soldiers from the garrison with their families) in some 300 houses (most of them
quite similar to this one).
This house is built of tabby, a mortar made from locally available oyster
shells, limestone made by burning shells, sand and water mixed in equal parts.
The walls were plastered inside and out, and the floor is tabby. The two-room
floor plan with loggia (usually on the south) is known as the St. Augustine plan.
You will notice that there are no windows on the north side of the house. This
keeps out the bitterest of the winter winds, while the winter sun, low in the
sky, shines into the loggia and warms that protected area. In the summer the
prevailing winds come off the ocean and cool the house through the large windows
on the east and west. Again, the loggia plays a part in climate control. Now it
acts as a buffer zone and the summer sun, high in the sky, is kept at a distance
from the interior of the house by the roof of the loggia. Notice that the doors
and windows are solid wood without glass panes. During most of the year they
can be left open. For privacy and protection there is a reja, or wooden grill, at
the street window and also an interior grill. Another common feature of the
18th-century St. Augustine'home is that one enters the house from the loggia
rather than from the street. Each house and yard is fenced from its neighbor, and
the street door gives entrance to the compound rather than the house proper.
While many homes had detached kitchens for reasons of comfort and safety, in
this case we have a stove built right into the house. There is no chimney, and
the smoke rises and escapes through smoke holes in the roof. Obviously not all
the smoke leaves through the smoke holes, and periodically the walls of the house
must be whitewashed. The long bench provides work and seating space. The alacena,
or standing cupboard, is storage for dishes and food (note olive jars filled with
beans, rice, salt, and olive oil). The hanging shelf above the table provides
rodent-free storage. Other storage is by means of wall pegs and wooden chests.
Most adults owned a chest, such as those in the front room, where their personal
belongings were kept. These chests, as well as the rest of the furnishings in
the Gallegos house, were made in our Carpinteria, reproduced from 18th-century
pieces in our collection.
Other interpretive points inside the house:
Seating The chair and two stools can be used to illustrate the social
stratification of 18th-century society. If there were one chair in the
house, the oldest male had first call on it. In this case Garcia would have
sat in the chair, while Gallegos and his wife sat on the stools. If the
priest came to call, he was seated in the chair, while the men sat on the
stools and the wife probably left the room. Other available and probably
much-used seating was the stove bench and the window sills.
Religion Religion played a very important part in the lives of the people.
In each home would be found a small religious shrine. Here we see a painting
on wood hanging over a shelf for a candle and perhaps a flower. There is
also a simple cross over the doorway.
Bedding The beds are the three mats rolled up in the corner of the front
room. Most people did not use actual beds.
Fishing equipment The mullet net hanging from the ceiling in the front
room is a reminder that the people had to provide much of their own food.
Interpretive points outside the house:
1. On the loggia is seen a large mortar and pestle used for grinding corn.
This was made from a tree trunk.
2. Another tree trunk was used to make the dugout canoe. Although this one
was made quite recently by a Seminole Indian, it is similar to the ones
used here for use in shallow coastal waters.
3. In the yard is.a barrel well. There are three more barrels sunk below
ground level. Archeologists working in St. Augustine have found the
remains of this type of well with various kinds of trash deposited
4. The structure in the northeast corner of the yard was originally
intended to provide shade when the plants in the herb garden were small.
5. The garden (which won't be planted until later in the summer) provided
dried beans, squash, cabbage, onions, turnips, tomatoes, etc. We use
the produce from our garden in our culinary demonstrations. During the
18th century most of the food was sent in by the government as part of
the annual situado, or subsidy, while the rest was grown or otherwise
procured by the people themselves.
6. There was no garbage pickup in the 18th century. People threw garbage
out their windows or dug trash pits. The orange tree outside the kitchen
window has been well-fertilized by various kinds of garbage.