2A The St. Augustine Record
SAR ?-7- 96cI
In the early 1970s, my first
wife and I were driving north on U.S. 19 along Florida's west coast and stopped at a little park near Perry for a picnic.
I walked back into the
woods, exploring, and found a large Indial shell mound near the water. Back then, Indian shell mounds were not protected as they are now. I started to dig around a little with a stick pnd found a lot of dirty oyster shells, of
then I uncovered a
Small reddish shard
I stopped digging
and contemplated :the piece, GUINTA transfixed.
dish had been dead for hundreds of years. Nowadays I now better and wouldn't dlsturb a mound.
But my fascination with
uncovering the past remains.
So, to me, the luckiest guy In wn is Carl Halbirt, our city 1,haeologist. He gets to peek %into the actual stuff of history, .ot just in books, not second hand.
The objects he finds were just In the hands of their owners.
Archaeology Is hard work, digging, sifting and sorting. Mspping, theorizing and checkIng facts. Carl's always deep in some project, and it does get ho outside. But it's a labor of love. He's a treasure, because he bases our city's history in
what actually happened.
This isn't Disney World, all
plastic and phony.
The Recordi has followed the
history of the city, publishing stories on the old sea wall, the Pena-Peck House, the Santo Domingo Redoubt, the Castillo de San Marcos, the Monson dexcavations and many other sites. Most recently, I did a piece with Cal about the city's original boundaries.
He is always enthusiastic and has the ability to identify and make sense of artifacts that he and his dedicated team of volunteers uncover from the earth beneath our feet.
Many interesting thing thigs
never make it into stories for one reason or another, such as being tangential to the focus of the article. For example, Carl once told me that a trash pit from the 1700s that he excavatd 1 revealed huge oyster shells, about a foot long. Oysters apparently grew that large back hen because.there wasn't there uge amQunt of sewage and pollution in the ocean at the lmeG, nor was there the overharvsting we have now. :PopIe lived in a cleaner, less crowded world.
In a Spanish Street trash pit, he found bottles from the British period of occupation, in the 1760s. Apparently, our former 2:olonial masters loved their
eis. Thanks, King Georgel This town has been paved for 400 years. Most older rchaeological evidence has ong been covered up or destroyed by construction.
But Carl finds opportunities ~en they arise. He's helped by a dedicated cadre of volunteers
-any retirees with an interest in archaeology and a few kids, too. They work sifting sand ~nd earth and remove artifacts, o9r record on charts and maps Where foundations and items are found.
> I've seen them find bullets, :bones, buttons, pottery, small ;coins, shoes, parts of rifles, 'eeth, spoons, tools and other Implements of everyday lIfe In 1he 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. If you'd love to be part of the history of this town, maybe they can use some help. : History is often a mystery, 1nd archaeology is digging for hues,
St. Augustine Historic Grand Hotels II Page 4 of 4
Monson Hotel, bayfront, 1920's. The above view is the second incarnation of the Monson. The original Monson House burned in 1914. The present Monson is the third hotel on the same site and is soon to be replaced by a fourth hotel.
Hotel St. George
NEXT PAGE, The Grand Hotels Continued
By JACLYN HOLMES, Staff Intem CI TYARCHAEOLOGIST CARL HALBIRT, ABOVE, AND VOLUNTEER HELEN GRADISON, below, work at the Monson Bayfront Resort site, where the remains of two early Spanish-era buildings have been uncovered.
Monson dig unearths
2 Spanish buildings
By PETER GUINTA
staffWriter '7 2, 2- 200
About 236 years ago, the family of Don Juan de Solas, a Spanish nobleman, lived in a small, stone house on Charlotte Street.
This week, work crews uncovered the remains of the Don's home.
City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt and a team of volunteers were excavating a pit on the property of the Monson Bayfrnt Resort, 32 Avenida Menendez, when they discovered the walls and floor of the de Solas house and another stone structure to its south. "I think that originally, (the Don's house) was just a long and fairly narrow building, twice as long as it-is wide," Halbirt said.
The Monson property is being excavated because the owner, Kanti Patel, plans to demolish the 1950s structure Including Lynch's Pub in February and build 19 structuresas as a Colonialstyle luxury hotel. The $6 million project will have a 25,000-square-foot underground parking garage, the city's first .
City ordinances require an archaeologist to examine all
building sites, anyway."
Mark Knight, director of pli and blding, has Halbirt oversees volunteers whose average age is proboversiht over the citys historical responsibility and says ably in the mid60s, ty are proud to iote. They include Patel ~ been coqpertive and given the city plenty of Tom Kehn, George Allen, Harry Metz and Helen Gradison time to examine the site. of St. Augustine and Bob McKinny ofPalm Coast. All tote
Construction is epecd to begin in about ayear. heavy buckets loads of ro4 anAd sand fom the pit, and sift
In reality, (the co ctor) has t disturb the entire site, it for artifacts ,
whether its a parking garage or a large structure," Knight Sometimes they have to wield a sledgehammer an said. "The hea fo tion piers disturb most of the site See MONSON 10A
ing 've ever excavated he said. by Joseph Gomila and the John The seawall was then where the Forbes Company," Halbirt said. "I center line of Avenida Menendez is think by that time, it was some sort of "t's just the tip now. trading post or store. In the 1800s,
A map of the city made in 1764 the primary commercial street in St. of the iceberg shows the building as rectangular. Augustine was not St. George Street But another map drawn about the but Charlotte Street." Continued from 1A same time shows it to be L-shaped. About 1914, there was a great fire break through floors. "There is some discrepancy in the on the site, he said. He found an 1882
The lowest floor found was built maps," Halbirt said. "Archaeological Indian Head penny, plate glass shards during what is now called the First work will clearly resolve this issue." and charcoal debris at that level Spanish Period, 1535 to 1763. That Rooms may have been added to Exciting discoveries may still be year, Spain ceded Florida to Great the back of the Don's home after one possible, Halbirt said. Britain as part of\a war settlement of the maps was drawn, he said. In an Beneath the de Solas house floof The English stay until 1784, when even later map,, drawn about 1788, might be artifacts from the late the Spanish ered, beginning the the home was U-shaped with the 1600s. Second Spanish P od. additional rooms. Evidence of any type of construcHalbirt said that, at the time, the That map identifies the house as tion there would indicate that the city seawall was closer, and the de Solas belonging by then to Jesse Fish, a was slowly being built northward home had flooded during a storm, New York entrepreneur and real toward the Castillo, which was begun high tide or hurricane. Mud and estate speculator. in 1672. debris were left behind. To fix the Halbirt said Fish, bornmin 1708, "This (project) will help us underdamage, someone laid a fresh layer of arrived in St. Augustine in the 1730s stand the urban growth history of St sand, then covered it with tabby, a to act as an agent for Spanish proper- Augustine," Halbirt said. "The even mixture of lime, sand and water, ty owners who were trying to sell, tual construction here will destroy which is poured like concrete and their holdings' after Florida was the archaeological remains. It's ou hardens. turned over to the British. responsibility to document (then~
"That helped to preserve the foun- "By 1800, the property belonged prior to that. This is our first pit an, dation. This is more of the First to the heirs of Don Antonio look what we've hit. It's just the tip Spanish Period than any other build- Rodriguez. By 1834, it was owned of the iceberg."
Photos by John Pemberton/staff
Carl Halbirt, city archaeologist for St. Augustine, uses a mesh screen yesterday to sift dirt he has dug at the Monson Riverfront Inn, which is being tom down to be replaced with a new Hilton Garden Inn and underground parking garage.
Final inn dig yields artifa cts
By Shawna Sundin
Times-Union staff writer
S T. AUGUSTINE -The
Monson Riverfront Inn
is best known for its
civil rights history, Digs at the site of the Monson Inn have where the Rev. Martin Luther unearthed such items as a rubber figure King Jr. was arrested. of a woman and painted marbles (left) But workers yesterday took and a soldier's breastplate (above). their last opportunity to unearth
thousands of artifacts buried at 3-cent coin and a copper bell remodeled in the mid-1800s. top of it, said Scott Macaulay, the hotel since colonial times without its clangor and handle. Halbirt has conducted 250 construction supervisor. before demolition starts today. Halbirt and his volunteers also archaeological projects in the 13 The new two-story hotel along The Monson is going to be have found several buttons, years he's been city the bayfront in historic replaced with a new Hilton painted marbles, broken pieces archaeologist, downtown will be finished in Garden Inn and underground of pottery and glass, animal An estimated I million about a year and will have 19 parking garage, bones and furniture tacks during artifacts are probably buried at separate buildings designed in "We've just uncovered a huge the 11 digs they've conducted at the hotel site at 32 Avenida colonial style, with about 80 quantity of material that dates to the site since August 2000. Menendez between the Bridge colonial style, with about 80 that time period, 1825 to 1875," About 20 boxes, a dozen of Lions and Castillo de San rooms, retail space and a said Carl Halbirt, city plastic storage bags and several Marcos fort because it's been restaurant, Macaulay said. archaeologist for St. Augustine. dry-screen racks full of artifacts continuously occupied for more The front steps of the Monson "These tell.the story of St. from the site are being than 300 years. But only a where King was arrested June Augustine, what St. Augustine organized; categorized and fraction of them will be 11,1964, will be saved, restored residents wbre doing." labeled at the city archaeology retrieved before the demolition and displayed in the new hotel's Some of the more significant lab. Some of the artifacts may of the hotel owned by St. garage. finds include a military be displayed in the new hotel, Augustine resident Kanti Patel, Two plaques also will be breastplate, a rubberized mold Halbirt said. Halbirt said. displayed at the new hotel's figurine of a woman, and a bone He and his workers hit pay dirt The demolition will take pool describing some of the handle of a dinner knife. Others Monday when they found about 10 days. Construction on site's civil rights history. include a Spencer carbine coquina foundation walls of two the underground parking garage Staff writer Shawna Sundin can cartridge casing with marks houses probably built between will be done first and then the be reached at (904) 819-3546 or at showing it had been fired, a 1750 and 1775 and then $6 million hotel will be built on email@example.com.
A ST. AUGUSTINE LANDMARK SHUTS DOWN IN PREPARATION FOR DEMOLITION
by I.m. dobles firstname.lastname@example.org Loc
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n St. Augustine, a city that pays a lot of Rights: American Journalism 1941-1973," renovat In t ilip service to historic preservation, a and several books, but it isn't mentioned in bemoan significant piece of ciyil rights history local tourist brochures. means workers.
S will: soon be obliterated. The Monson A week later, the Monson was the site of workers
Bayfront Resort and its on-site the now infamous "swim-in" at the motel's another rid th6eworld- bar/restaurant, Lynchs Irish Pub, will be pool. When young protesters jumped in real est: torn down to make way for a new luxury the pool, owner Jimmy Brock was On. Hilton hotel. photographed by the Associated Press Lynch's windows are already .dark, 'dumping hydrochloric acid into the water to a restautfs following a raucous Irish Wake on Feb. 8 chase them away. The searing image ran in TW (its last night of operation) and Monson publications around the country and forged of PubX owner Kanti Pateli says the building will the city's growing reputation for intolerance.
likely be razed by March. In case anyone missed the message, Nolan S"It's a crying shame the city allows this to says, the following week someone kidnapped happen," says St. Augustine historian David an alligator from the Alligator Farm and Nolan. "It bespeaks a fuzzy appreciation of put it in the Monson pool. what history is." Jimmy Brock voluntarily desegregated OiThe property located just a half block the Monson shortly after the swim-in north of 'the Bridge of Lions, is before he was legally bound to by the unquestionably historic but its history isn't federal Civil Rights Act, which passed July the kind the city prefers to celebrate. There 2, 1964. Acknowledging that fact at the were no colonial battles here, no famous city's annual Martin Luther King railroad d arons. Instead, the old motor Commemorative Breakfast last month, lodge was the site of some of the most keynote speaker Daryl Parks praised Brock incendiary and shameful momenii in the for doing "the right thing." or civil rights movement. "The Monson is ground zero for St.-FRA On June 11, 1964, it was the site of the Augustine's place in modem history," Nolan arrest ofa group of civil rights activists led by says. "It would be on anyone's top 10 list of r the Rverend Martin Luther King Jr. King the most historic buildings in St. Augustine." was arrested as he attempted to integrate the St. Augustine vice-mayor Susan Burke -whites-only Monson restaurant one of agrees. "We talk a lot about preserving ar 239 protesters who ended up in jail. The history, but it'ysalways the same history:
incident is included in a new Library of the Spanish Colonial period. What about America anthology.tided "Reporting Civil our history?"
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Locally, reaction to the proposed makes it difficult. "I can't find anything
demolition has been largely negative, due suitable," he says. "It's either too small or in part to the site's historic import, and in too much money." part to plans for the .. .... At- the" recentN D E N EW O new hotel. The new wake/farewell, longtime
_building will traiansform "WE TALK A LOT ABOUT customers expressed the bayfront (the hotel's PRESERVING HISTORY, regret over the loss of occupancy will more their favorite watering than double) and plans BUT IT'S ALWAYS THE hole. "I feel like my call for an underground SAME HISTORY: THE best friend is dying," $1 WELLE parking garage. Given SPANISH COLONIAL said local bartender $1 SPECIALITY SIthe fact that the area is Sean Cunningham. below sea level and PERIOD WHAT ABOUT Interestingly, the man $1 PITCHERS OF often floods at high OUR HISTORY?" behind much of the, BUD LIGI tide, Burke says the ST. AUGUSTINE Monson's historyhas no $1 GETS YOU IN T1 parking garage "would VICE-MAYOR SUSAN BURKE objections to it being be an engineering torn down. Reached at miracle." his home in St.
Lynch's proprietor, Desmond "Des" Augustine, former owner Jimmy Brock said
Lynch, who recently remodeled the bar, he thinks the new Hilton is "a fine idea." 1 MILLER LITE /ICE HC had hoped the- owner would opt to "I lived on that bayfront 53 years," he $1 COCKTAILS FOR 1 renovate rather than demolish. He added. "I wish the new owner well. He's a FROM 9-MIDI bemoans the fact that closing his pub fine youngman." means laying off between 35 and 40 Brock dismisses objections to destroying DJ DAVE AND E.L. (TP 4 workers. Although he'd like to reopen in the building. "The people who scream the another location, the scarcity and cost of loudest are usually the people who don't real estate in downtown St. Augustine pay any taxes."
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