Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Title: The house of Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: The house of Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 7 - Lot 5, Greek Shrine
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Lawson
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090509
Volume ID: VID00044
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

?~ -' ,i CC 77 0 7

^ati iei de ?c(do< /470- /( 76-


Saint Augustine history is intimately linked with this

ancient house through more than two and a half centuries.

Built of ooquina, that peculiar stratified formation of

age cemented shells and Band, Ita primitive archileoture is

typical of Spanish Saint Augustin- in the days when grim Castillo

San Marooe was under construction Pnd Florida was forbidden

ground to all but Spanish subjects.

Tirst the residence of a noted Spanish governor, then of

a long line of his descendants, the aged house eventually became

the land mark of bt. ueorge Street, mentioned in many descript-

tons of neighboring properties.

The story starts with the arrival-in Baint Augustine, in

kay 1675, of Captain Ueneral Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar *o take,

office as military and civil governor of that Florida which

Spain still claimed +o stretch westward to the Mississipoi Rjiver

and north to Includ. the territory of Virginia, and even UMasa-

chussetts Bay, which the English claimed by right of actual


Don Pnblo htd seen many years service in Flandes, in the

Castillo de Amberes, in Ghent, and in Ch.mbrri; while in the New

World he had been Mayor of the Ci'y of Vera Cruz and of the Port

of San Juan de Ulloa. Truly his lit had been "no o*her thai that

of the harquebus nnd pike." It was because of this long milteary

experience he was sent to Florida to carry on construction of

,astlllo San Marcoa,bt cgun his ipr--deceeB'or ;.cn anuel de Cendoya.

He was also charged to "dislocate" the English at Charleston.

Don fablo was well pleased with thn d-sign of the fortress

to which he was to contribute so much of th hulilding. In one

of his many letters to the Crown. copied in Vadrid by the histori-n

Lowery, he writes, "Although I have seen many Castillos of con-

sequence and reputation, in the form of its plan this one is not

surpassed by any of those of greater consequence."..." "or will

there be found th- stone, lime and other mat-rials so close at

hand and with the convenience that +here is in this Presidio."

It was th3 convenience of stone anw limo, and no doubt the

bringing from the quRr ies on Anastasia Aslnnd of stones too

small for use in the massive structure of +he Castillo, yet

entirely sultsbl' for residncial use, tia* prompted Don Pablo

to build these walls of such enduring strength.

The year of 1680 was drawing to a close, asP wR his term

of office. Soon hb must vacate G&vernment House to mnke room

for his successor. His four sons were with him, Don Geronimo, a

captain; Don Juan, also a captain and married to Da. Ana Menendez

Marques, descendant of Pedro Menendez Marquez nephew of the

founder of the City; Don Pedro who became Adjutant and Don Thomas

not yet in military service. Already there were two prandchlldren

and the ageing Don Ppblo had no wish to leave his growing family.

He decided to remian in 6aint Augustine for the yP-rs of life

that were left +o him.

On December 8, 1680, he wrote +o rpriana, Queen regent of

Spain, that he was building the house, "for", RP he wri+es, ""here

is none in this Presidio *o rent b-cnjse *he houses that 're

built are weak, of little cpacity, b- ng of boards with the

roof of palm l"erves; ?n: the f-trll-s arre Increasing."

This final reason was both true and prophetic. Church Records

show that from 1678 to 1710 twenty-aeven were born to his four

sons. Many of these babies died in infancy, for the Saint

Augustine of those days was not kind to children. Those who

lived continued the family tradition of service either in the

Army of the King or the Franciscan missions.

The site which Don aeblo selected for +his family house

was not far from the great defensive work on which he was en-

gaged. No oth-r buildings then intervened; from his upper windows

he could watoh the berres coming across the harbor freighted

with massive blocks of coquina. At the landing he could see the

Apalaohlan Indlin slaves struggle with roltr and bar to move

the stones *o shore, and the cries of the drovers urging the

oxen on with word and goad as each stone was dragged up the

incline to the 'ort would come plainly to his ears.

The rront wall of 'he house was lined wtlh the Street to

the Gate to the Land, for the name St. George was not to be

applied to it until a hundred years later. The land on which

the house was built then belonged to th Crown, but thDoughout

eighty-three years of Spanish rule Don Pablo's family were not

disturbed in possession of it.

Irom the time of his arrival in Saint Augustine Lon P blo

had been interested in the work of the Franciscan nissiona.

Barcia,the Spanish historian, in his Ensnao Cronologico para la

Historia de la Florida, makes two references *o the efforts of

Don Pnblo de Hits y Salazar to have mire friars sent from Cuba.

Don Pablo's own letters, of which many are attll to be found in

the Spanish Archives, rhow constant care in protection of the

established mission schools and mnny efforts to extend 'he

mission field. The success of his efforts, which BArcia

mentions, is shown by a letter of 1arrch A,1680, in which Don

Pablo tells of welcoming twenty-four fri-re on +hpir arrival

and safely distributing the m mongp he missions of Apalache.

It wes probably *hise rea+ Interest of thhlir grandfather

which prompted two young men of' he family takt +he Franciscan

habit and later become distlngpuished workers in h+e Indian

ornver'l'nes. Thev are listed in the Biographical Dic+ionary of

the Franciscans In Spatnsh Florida and Cuba. (Geiger) as


"Hita y Salazar, Joseph de: Porn in 5t. Augustine about

1691. +qtloned ni+ Lan nrcoe de Applachs prior 'o

1723, and In +hn vaar was d c'rinfro %+ ban Puenaven+ura

de Pallca q'-onF *he ocnmi n'-lon. Pe hild +he same

office in 1727. Py the c'hrpt-r of 1735 he was elected

guardian of ban Antonio de la Tama and was -)nnmnted one

of 'he lectorA of the Timucuan Indic n language. In 173P

he was doctrinero at 5an Juan del Puerto de PFlloa in

*he Chilunue nation for which languRge he was also lector.

He enloyed the titles of Prodloador G :neral and Pred-cador


"Hita, Antonio de: Forn bout 1693. as n ailsgionary qt

z. AuPus+Ine in 1722 and doctrinero of "ama in 1723.

In the Chapter of 1735 he war nned one of the lect.or

in Indian I-nguPges, his spectil ftild b-ing *hp+ of the

Applache torrue."

The bir*hdates 71ivn by Gelper are apo-roxinmte. h JoSeph

he describes s~ome to be u~'hIo T 9 e 'h, sixth cn of Don Oer nitto

de Hitt y Salizar and ,-. .rls '-osa d!~e Il ''ora, >orn Ir 2095;

Antonio de Hita was either Antonio Joseph, 1690, or Diego

Antonio, 1692, both eons of Don Pedro de Hit y Salasar and

Da, Catharina de Leon.

Many Indions worked on the builcLng of Castillo San !i4rcos.

It is quite probable some al-o worked on building +he house of

Don Pablo de HitF y Salazar and It was front them that Fray Joseph

and Fray An+onio learned the first words of +hose Indian languages

in which they later became so proficient.

Just how long Don Psblo lived to e- jo his house is not

definitely known. The reord of his burial has no+ been found.

It is certain +h-* he was nlive in 1695 for +here ti an en'ry in

the Church Records tho' on April 9 of that year little Juana

?rancleoa, daughter of Con Thomas de Hita y Salazar and Da. Lorenza

de los Rios was baptized "in *he house of hbr grandfs*her the

Sergeant major r Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar Governor and Captain

General for His Majesty in thesee Provinces" ind the sponsors were

"her said grandfather and Victoria de la Vera."

Nine cays later a touching ceremony took place in this

same house, typical of 'he religious fervor of +he Spaniards of

that period. A wee girlie of two days a funding exposed of

parents unknown, was baptized and named Catharina. Again the

aged ron Pablo was godfather, juet as proud *o stand sponsor for

this little waif as if sh- had been one of his own grendohildren.

It it certain, however, +hat the Governor lid no' live beyond

1698, for the bsptism of a alave child on June 5 of thnt year

refers 'o its parents as being elves of +he heirs of Don Pablo

de Hita y Salazar.

A peculiarity of thesee baptismal records is that they refer

to Don kablo as if he were still Governor although his tera of

office had ended fifte-n y;ra pr.-viously, 'his imay be ex-plained

by the constant cnre for him and his family shown 1y *he C own.

A Royal Cedula of 1682, two yasre after his retirement as

governor, commands "That Don Pablo de Hits is to enjoy his salary

as lone as he wishes, as Is ordered." n 1693, when many oyal

gifts and pensions were cancelled, another cedula was issue

"Providing thnt *he suspension of pifta does not include th se

enjoyed by 'Don Iablo de Hi+a." nhis royal sa*ention was ex ended,

ofter his death, *o ;on rpblo's oldest son in A cedulA of 1 98

which commands ""*h* all possible .t*enti-n be ~iven *o Cpo1 in

Don Geronimo de Hita y Balazar."

Allowing three ve-rs for complf!4on of *ho house, a must

have taken h*bt long for it wae the largest orivpte r.asden e in

4he City, In fict ?xc ddeed i sae only by 'he Royal overn ent

Houses, Don Pablo lived to ~njoy it for about fiften .3ars. The

remaining two story section on 3t. George .'*re-tt is only s) t of

the corn late structure. The map of ;arlano de la soque, 17 ,

shows it ext3ndinF btck 109 feet from +he street in P eha ,

enclosing patio about 35 fl't. square. Here was a safe pla

for the many grandchildr-n *o play ind here no doubt on su ny

drys grandfather Don Pblo sat AR:,ong +h-em, voklna wonderr in +heir

childish "'nds wi*h tales of his campip-ns in lenderss and t e

Castillos he hed seen, larger then Ih'C on- he had holpe *o

build here, in countries hb* *o *hem were bu+ nPmes ff nilc a

beyond that sea which many of them woull not live to cross.

Then came th- time when grandfather Don ?Pblo was no m re.

The house d-sc-nded to his eldest son, Don Gerontro, an: the other

sons founded hbmes of *heir own in o^her parts of the City. Don

Geronimo in turn left it to his son aeronlro Joseph and the -eat-

gr ndch Idren of Don Pablo -slyed in the patio.

Then came *he Britieh tc take possession of all Florida

which the Crown of Spain had released, by b- +treaty of 1763, in

order to recover Cuba. 'on Geronimo Joseph deeded the house, in

trust, to Jesse Fish to be sold when opportunity offered, and

with tbh others of his family, and in fact practically all +he

Spanish inhabitanta, mov-d to Cuba.

In the year of *his removal there was organized in Saint

Augus+lne 'wo bodies of the Third Order of St. vrancls. Among

the lay brothers was Don Elmon de Hits y Salazar and among the

lay sisters Da. M':ris Ounadalpe de Hita and nla. Francisca de Hits,

all descendants of Don Pablo.

During the Pritish occupation, 1763 ~o 1783, a colony of

Greek, Italian and Minorcan set'lere was establishedd at the present

site of New Smyrna, some 60 miles south of saint Augustine. In

1778 those till alive left New Sayrns and came to the Ancient

City where they were allotted living space, by .nflish Governor

Tonyn, in the vicinity of +he City Gates.

As practically all of thesee coloniats were P-?man Catholics,

the only ch roh in Saint Augustine bling Anplican, it was necessary

for their paesor, Fathr Camps, to rent space in a dwelling in

which to say Mass. This space was obtained in +he front ground

floor room of the house built by Don Peblo de Hita y Salazar,

The house then became known as the Capilla minorca (Minorcan Chapel)

or as the Church of the ,Mhonese, thi later name coming from the

Port of Mahon, In the Balearic Illands, from which *he colonists

sailed for Florida. Oonssaonally i* is referred t. as the Greek

Church, as it wae the original int-ntion to settle New Smyrna with

Greeks and thus +he name qreek Setlement was used in English

docurunts and continued *o b- soled even rrter the -olrAstnae had

come to sRint ArJttine '.. ina s onl- of.ce nf public

Catholic worship r. all Aaat Florida from 177P to 1793.

ith tho return of +he Spaniards, in 1783, +he Cap1s

dincroea becamE a land -ark. In 'he Spnisn census of 1783-85

mRny residence lo.;:tions inr described with relation *o the

Xinorcn Chnpel, of which th following arf examples

"John Itrie, native of 6cotland, liv a in a rented house

adj-, ng 't:e Vinorcon Chapel."

"Juan GCanopli, owns a house and grounds far+her up than

*he 1' orcan Chapel." .Tnlhi la the Oldest School House.)

"Jacob Cl,-rk, Ir; has a house in George Street beyond the

.i norcan Chnpel."

"Loren-o Caps, 5scrlitan, he lives in *he ,inorcnn Chapel."

A+ *bh' +m o" t-iAn; *htib cer.sus 'ho h"use of Dor P4blo de

Hitq y s3lzqir Nas ir possession of on' An'to~ito Fernand:~ who seems

*o hove be' n pnr*culqrly charged wih +he c-i'+ody of Crown

property. + will to ree'lled *hn" *-e 1nd 'n wich Ton Inblo

built his house yas originally 'ing's lond.

Th first governor of th: Second Spanleh 'F-tme, 'on V'io nte

Zeapedes, '.de o air. attempt to ad'uat conflicte in Droperty

ownership due to *h. change of flags. ore .:ectiovo st-ps were

tnk-n by his -ucce'ror, Don Juan Nepomucsno r1t %uc~fada, who

o'.used all proper4*el3 of doubtful own:rshlp bt b" -ppraised, in

1790, eon,. '*rn of ered for sale. "t, -r= is -ro a-nt+ n of f s.le

t-ing made of Ton Psblo'e housO; bu* it octs upnt 1i A'ven as

r., ''usenti de iltt< y aslazar. "he Inv-rn+ory is dunllcnte.d in

the assessor'e list of 1O03 "wi-h also gives Li. Sugnisa as +he

occupant her rl rbt to the property evidently b21ng recognized

in both instances ty th? Government. -,. ikugenia's birth has not

b^)-n found in the Ch'irch "',r.rrde; rnvn of +' bli'- so worm

eren.-r. ii fG b'i ill-;:- e '^cr lc L 'nln r .:- b 1?r W rrn -1 -n i's.:' ?

J 9.

1761 as godmother of Rita Nicolasa, daughter of Don Simon de

Hits and Da. Josepha Rodr~gues, showing that she lived in Saint

Augustine before the British occupation. In the c-neus of 1790

she is list' as a widow of 56 years, daughter of Don Geronimo and

his wife ra. Juana Avero and thus a grand u7hter of the original

Don pablo.

During most of these y-ars *h? house built by Don fbblo

de Hita y bslaser continued to he used as *he rinorcan Chspel.

With the death of Father Camps in 1790, and completion of the

Cathedral in 1795, + e Jinoroan Chapel wae .iscontinued and the

building converted to mnre prosaic uses.

The walls of the rear sector were destroyed In one of

Saint AuguAstne's disastrous fires. The to story front section

is all that remains of +he original walls raised by Don Pablo de

Hita y salezar. Thes- enduring walls hpve be-ome a monument to

a famous family of Sprrish nobility which contributed much to

the history of Florida and to a colony of e-t+lers of more humble

origin who *olled, suff-red and kept their faith alive so that

their descendsnte might live in the Saint Augustine of today,


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs