INTERPRETIVE GUIDE TO THE GOMEZ HOUSE
This site serves 3 major interpretive functions within the Museum of San
1. It is a good example of board on board construction commonly used
during the mid 18th century in St. Augustine.
2. It is a good example of a typical home of a foot soldier and his
family of that era here. (It also serves as a good medium for a
comparative statement between the lifestyles of the foot soldier,
Gomez, and his artilleryman neighbor, Gallegos.)
3. The Gomez house is also used to interpret a tienda (store) as
would have existed here then. The store "medium" can be used by our
interpreters to convey information to our visitors about local
economics, currency, trade, imports/exports, material culture,
salaries, pirates and privateering, international trade, Indian
relations and various other aspects of 18th century economics.
1. Wooden Construction
Wood frame construction comprised only about 20% of all structures in
St. Augustine during the mid 18th century. Almost 2 centuries of
intensive wood consumption for fuel and building material had
deforested the once lush woodland around the city making the local
residents of the 1700s more conservative in their wood use. Tabby and
coquina also did not burn as did wood, and in a city that had already
been burned twice to the ground by invading forces, wooden
construction was less appealing to 18th century residents than it had
been to their predecessors, thus contributing to the increased use of
tabby and coquina and the declining use of wood in local construction.
(Take note also that a large oak tree as you see standing in the Gomez
backyard would not have been seen within a couple miles of the city by
the mid 1700s. All such trees would have been consumed. Only fruit
trees would have been visible within the city by that period.)
The Gomez house was reconstructed in 1969 by the Historic St.
Augustine Preservation Board.
2. The typical lifestyle of a foot soldier's family
Though considered rather small by today's standards as a home for a
family of five, this house was typical for a family of Gomez's means
back then. The interior of the house is sparsely furnished with only
the bare essentials of daily subsistence. There is no interior
fireplace so all cooking had to be be done outside. The ladder on the
east wall leads to attic living space. A coquina walled well in the
yard was the family's water source. Most of the yard would have been
utilized as garden plots. No oak tree would have shaded the yard here
back then; maybe a few fruit trees would have edged the yard. Note
also no opening on north wall. East, west and south windows. Door on
south. All consistent with "St. Augustine Plan" but done in wood.
This house is named for Lorenzo Gomez, owner of this property in 1763
when Spain ceded Florida to England. Limited Spanish documentation of
their first period supplies us today with only the name of this
property's owner in 1763 and no further information about when he
purchased it or who previous owners may have been. We do not know
when the original house was built.
Lorenzo was born in St. Augustine in 1733. Pedro, Lorenzo's father, a
native of Spain, moved here in 1721 and served as an artilleryman at
the garrison until his retirement in the 1750s. Gertrudo Rodriguez,
Lorenzo's mother, came from a long line of St. Augustinians. Lorenzo
had 6 brothers and sisters.
Lorenzo married Catarina Perdomo, another St. Augustine native, in
1754 and they had their first child, Maria Catrina, that same year.
In 1758 a son, Antonio Joseph, was born and the following year,
another daughter, Maria de la Trinidad. Lorenzo was an infantry
soldier at the Castillo earning 132 pesos per year.
Lorenzo and his family moved to Havana in 1763 leaving proprietorship
of this property to Jesse Fish with hopes that he would sell the
property for them. The property did not sell during the British
period and the house was demolished during their 21 year occupation,
probably for firewood.
In 1785, during the first years of Spanish reoccupation, Fish sold the
property to Lorenzo's brother-in-law, Antonio Perdomo. The property
remained vacant until the early 19th century when another small frame
structure was built on the property (sometime between 1804 and 1833).
For basic interpretation to our visiting public, few details
concerning the many dates and names of the Gomez family should be
brought forth (unless you are specifically questioned on such detail
and have chosen to clutter your mind with such banalities). Such
details tend to be boring to the average visitor and we present them
to you only as background information.
To be expressed to the public concerning the family: This is the
house of Lorenzo Gomez, his wife Gertrudo, and their three children;
two girls and a boy. Lorenzo was a foot soldier at the Fort earning
only 132 pesos a year (as compared to Gallegos' 168 pesos a year).
(Talk a bit about the house, wood consumption, the yard, the well, the
gardens, the oak tree, whatever you choose).
Gomez and his family operated a small store out of their home for a
wealthy merchant in town to supplement Lorenzo's meager salary. (This
is how the store interpretation, # 3, fits in.)
Side Note: Please understand that we know of no store ever being
operated on this property. We take "interpretive license" here to fit
an important concept into our limited facility. We really are not
cheating though, because the few stores that were here would have been
operated out of individuals' houses just as this one is portrayed.
With the store interpretation, we step away from a totally "site
specific" interpretation towards a more "site representative" one.
You will also find that this makes the Gomez house a more entertaining
site for both the visitor and you the interpreter.
3. A Neighborhood Store
See pages 6, 7, 8 and 9 of "Post Tour Package" for store/trade
Read attached "A Store for the Barrio" by Amy Bushnell 7/82.
Other suggested readings that will offer you insight into local
economics and other concepts that can be interpreted through the store
Bushnell, Amy T. The King's Coffer: Proprietors of the Spanish
Florida Treasury, 1565-1702. Gainesville, 1981
Harman, Joyce E. Trade and Privateering in Spanish Florida,
1732-1763. Saint Augustine Historical Society, 1969
TePaske, John J. The Governorship of Spanish Florida, 1700-1763.
Durham, N.C., 1964
Proctor, Samuel, ed. Eighteenth Century Florida, 5 vols.