Areas of Significance: Architecture, Minorcans, Families, Transportation,
Politics/Government, Commerce, Literature 920==
Statement of Significance: (911==)
This one-story Frame Vernacular structure at 33 Charlotte Street was
constructed between 1894 and 1899. A one-story porch with chamfered posts
and jigsawn brackets extends from the front. A transom is above the front
door of this building located beside a motel in a mixed commercial and res-
idential neighborhood. The building is on a street adjacent to the restored
The area of the old colonial city between Hypolita Street and the City
Gate has been the major area of restoration efforts over the past two decades
and is one of St. Augustine's leading tourist attraction areas. There are
eight colonial buildings and structures in the area, a number of reconstruc-
tions, and other buildings designed or remodeled in the St. Augustine Colon-
ial Revival style. Restorations and reconstructions line most of St. George
Street. Elements contributing to its colonial ambiance include buildings con-
structed right at the street line, walls lining the street (some of tabby or
exposed coquina), overhanging balconies and ornamental rejas. Side streets
like Spanish and Cuna still have a number of post-colonial buildings. The
bayfront has a number of commercial structures of modern vintage. The area
generally retains the old colonial street patterns, though there have been
major alterations around the City Gate and bayfront. Traffic is limited in
the area and banned on St. George Street, but there are still serious traffic
and parking problems because the area is so heavily traveled. Because of the
commercial value of the land, there are continuing pressures for new develop-
ment in the area. It is an area of combined tourist, commercial, and residen-
tial usage. It is bounded on the east by the Castillo de San Marcos, the
seawall and the bayfront. On the west it is bounded by the Model Land Comp-
any subdivision developed by Henry Flagler. This section of the colonial
city is part of the National Landmark District, listed on the National Reg-
ister of Historic Places.
The northernmost section of the walled colonial city was bounded in the
18th and early 19th centuries by the Cubo defense line and City Gate on the
north and by the Rosario defense line, present-day Cordova Street, on the
west. This area first developed in the late 17th century as a work camp dur-
1. Pedro Ruiz de Olano, "Piano del Fuerte de San Agustin de la Florida,
y sus contornos," August 8, 1740; Juan Jose Elixio de la Puente, "Plano de
la . Plaza de San Agustin," January 22, 1764; Mariano de la Rocque,
"Plano Particular de la Cuidad de San Agustin de la Florida," April 25,
1788; East Florida Papers, Escrituras, 1784-1821; Albert Manucy, The Houses
of St. Augustine, 1565-1821 (St. Augustine, 1962), pp. 22-25 and 41-47;
Patricia Griffin, "Mullet on the Beach; The Minorcans of Florida: 1768-
1788," Ph.D. diss. (University of Florida, 1977), pp. 106-108 and 134-151;
ing the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos and later as a neighbor-
hood after the completion of the fort in 1695. All structures were destroyed
in the 1702 seige of the city, those generally north of Cuna Street by the
Spanish to establish a clear field of fire from the fort, and those south by
the invading South Carolinians. By mid-century buildings had been rebuilt
mainly along St. George and Spanish Streets, and a number of them still stand
on St. George: Avero, DeMesa, Arrivas, Rodriguez-Sanchez, and Paredes Houses.
During the British period, the Minorcans generally settled in this section
of town, and it remained the "Minorcan quarter" well into the 19th century.
New construction continued in the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821), with
a number of extant structures, such as the Triay House, the Oldest School-
house, and the City Gate, dating from this period.(1) By the mid-19th cen-
tury, development expanded westward along Hypolita and Cuna Streets. The
post-Civil War years brought intense commercialization to part of Hypolita
Street and all of St. George Street as the main thoroughfare became lined
with shops, boarding houses, and large hotels. The areas off of St. George
Street remained essentially residential, and Spanish Street became by 1900
one of several exclusively Black neighborhoods outside Lincolnville, with
its own school and church in the southernmost block of the street. St.
George Street underwent major changes in the late 19th and early 20th cen-
turies with the construction of the massive city hall at Hypolita Street and
with the demolition of colonial structures and the erection of brick commer-
cial buildings.(2) This section of the street gradually deteriorated into
a depressed business district. Since 1959 the Historic St. Augustine Pres-
ervation Board, in conjunction with the St. Augustine Restoration Foundation
and private citizens, has restored and reconstructed.twenty-five buildings
along St. George and Cuna Streets as part of a movement to recognize the
city's disappearing colonial past. Several of the Preservation Board's build-
ings are operated as part of a living-history museum, San Agustin Antiguo.
In addition to the Restoration Area, this section of the city, especially
along Spanish and Cuna Streets, also has a large concentration of 19th cen-
tury buildings, particularly from the pre-Flagler era, and even some pre-
Civil War structures. Avenida Menendez, formerly Bay Street, has become a
modern commerical street adjacent to both the Restoration Area and the
Castillo de San Marcos.(3)
This building at 33 Charlotte Street was the residence of members of
the Benet Family: Chester E., a laborer; Clarence J., a chauffeur, clerk
at Imperial Cafe, and his wife Grace; Charles H., Chief of Police, and
Agatha.(4) Benet family members descend from Minorcans who came to St.
Augustine about the time of the New Smyrna colonists arrival in 1777. Lit-
erary geniuses Stephen Vincent, William Rose, and Laura Benet, are related
to the family. The building is now a leather shop.
For archaeological significance of the walled colonial city see Master
Site File Form 8SJ10.
John Bostwick, et. al, "A Sub-Surface Archaeological Survey of the Northern
Colonial City," (St. Augustine: HSAPB, 1978).
2. Anon., "Copy of a Plan of the City of St. Augustine," 1833; 1885 and
1894 Birds-Eye Views; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1884-1930; St. Augustine
City Directory, 1885, 1899, 1904.
3. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1884-1958; City Directory, 1959, 1960.
4. City Directory, 1911-12, 1920-21, 1927-28, 1930, 1934.