Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Title: De Mesa - Sanchez house
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: De Mesa - Sanchez house
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Physical Description: Interpretive outline
Language: English
Publication Date: 1982
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
43 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
de Mesa-Sanchez House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 43 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.896429 x -81.313225
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091263
Volume ID: VID00161
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B7-L6

Full Text



The role of the de Mesa-Sanchez House in our interpretive program is

twofold: (1) to present the visitor with a sampling of life in t.

Augustine during the American Territorial Period, particularly the

1830's; (2) to summarize the visitor's tour of San Agustin Antig o by

showing how the evolution of the house and its changing ownershi.

reflected the changes in St. Augustine in the late 18th and earl 19th

centuries. The latter is primarily though not exclusively s rved

by the slide presentation and the exhibits.

The interpretation of the 1830's should be the major concern of the

guide as he or she leads a group through the furnished portion of the

house. We can allow some room for discussion of the building's history,

especially where the architectural evidence is so strong (the interior

windows, the stairs in front of the window). But.f visitors should

leave the tour with a vivid impression of life here in the 1830's, and

be able to compare and contrast it with life in the earlier periods.


Here we shall introduce the visitors to the hypothetical "family" who

have come to occupy the de Mesa-rnch-ez House. You, the guide, should

move to a position roughly in front of the door leading to the tair

hall. Gathering the group around the dining table, you should introduce

-"1 the family as follows:

(1) The family consists of a father, mother, and several children,

including a baby. The number, age and sex of the children are not


important, although we do suggest the inclusion of at least one girl

because of the toy tearset upstairs.

(2) They are fairly well-to-do financially, capable of purchasing the

various items around the room. These are very up-to-date furnishings

'for an up-to-date family.

(3) They employ a live-in servant (not a slave), who is tendinq the

baby while the family has gone sailing, picnicing on Anastasia Island,

or strolling along the bayfront. They might be attending the Episcopal

Church (in contrast to the earlier Spanish inhabitants who were all


You may eoese-to point out individual pieces, but remember: The more

-- single furnishings you itemize, the more difficult it becomes to

adequately cover the essential points we want to make. I suggest you

either select a few favorites you like and feel you know well, or that

you learn as many as you can and eohang your focus for different groups.

Please do not try to describe every piece in the house!

Before leaving the dining room (or when you first enter it), we suggest

you mention that it was the porch shown on the Rocque Map in the slide show,

a during the Second Spanish Period. Point out the interior windowasA evi-cce,


We suggest that you continue discussing the architectural evolution of

the house here. The key point is that research indicates that this room

:a was probably the location of an outside stair during the Second Spanish

Period. Like the porch which became a dining room, this space was en-

closed'to create another room.


When you have a large group, say, more than a dozen people, you might

find this space to be a viable forum in which to introduce the next

four rooms: the waiting room/parlor, entrance hall, office,and storage

room. Rather than attempt to cram a large group into any of these small

rooms, or to try to speak to a line of people strung out through more

than one room, you should consider intr L Jitx _^ m,-t chat the functions

of these rooms ase (the "business-like" office, the more casual waiting

room for male enjoyments across the hall, the central hall which is

typical of American architecture of the period, the storeroom for the

family's trunks and other belongings). Here you can also describe the

size and location of the original de Mesa structure, as well as its

extension to the south by Joseph Stout in the British Period.

You can also anticipate for the visitors some of the individual items

they will see by saying something like, "Notice how the sofa in the
waiting room has been slipcovered to keep off the dust." "When you

pass through the office, look how the mapmaker has left off Lake
o ;>1137 rvNAp a( ri- i A.- h^ pi* ^ A ;f lo, "C L
Okeechobee Although he probably knew it existed, i occupied by

hostile Seminoles. Since he wanted an accurate survey, he just left

it out completely." Or, "Behind these stairs, when you pass through

the storage room, you will see how the stairs were built in front of

an older window." By telling the visitors to watch for certain furnish-

ings or aspects of the building's architecture, you can avoid the problems

of interpreting to Crunching Crowds or Strung-Out Stragglers. You can

also, in this room, stand a step or two up the stairs, thereby keeping

people fiom wandering y unattended, make yourself heard and seen, and

keep the crowd from dispersing throughout the downstairs.



Again, use this space to your advantage. If you keep the doors into

^ the parlor and the exhibit rooms closed, and you stand roughly in front

of the hall cupboard, you should be able to see most everyone, be seen

.'.. and heard yourself, and provide a good introduction to the two bedrooms.

Suggest things for the visitor to look for: "On the bed in the children's

room, look at the beautiful signed coverlet." "One of my favorite pieces

in the house will be seen in the master bedroom up front a painted

New England potty commode that's made to appear as a small chest when

closed. It might have been used by the mother, who is sick with con-

sumption (tuberculosis). You can see her medicines on the chest of

-.-- drawers. She was one of many Northerners who came here for health

reasons during the Territorial Period." Give the visitorsgreat expecta-

ti6ns willl pay attention when yseep the objectslater.


--~-- This is one of the few rooms where you can reasonably handle a large

group. Once you have adequately explained the function of the room

(and why it's upstairs) you should feel free to point out a few of the

furnishings, since these are by far the finest in the house. We again

suggest that you select one or two for close attention, but consider

describing different ones for different tours. Unless you know that

a new group isn't close on your heels (listen for the slide show), then

you should skip the balcony. Too many people will stop to take pictures
4o -Ibc- Sf/4yl \

Direct the group into the exhibit rooms and you're ready for the next





(1) Keep the tour under 12 minutes unless you know for certain

that you have more time.

(2) If there are two guides, we suggest you split up between upstairs

and downstairs. (We can, under this arrangement, handle up to three

groups, with even more wandering through the exhibit. This is obviously

not a desirable situation, but it can happen.)

(3) Change your focus for different tours, keeping in mind that we

have one basic storyline we're trying to follow. It's possible to make

the same point from different angles, using different items.

(4) Use your imagination! Be flexible! There is a stronger element
of crowd control under the guided tour system, but that should only

make you uee your wits for an ultimately better presentation. Necessity

is, after all, the mother of invention.



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