SUPPLEMENT FOR FMSF SITE FORMS
SITE NAME Cerveau House, 26 Cuna Street
NATURE OF SITE Xstanding structure archaeological site both
A. NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION
The two-story house at 26 Cuna Street is a good example of a vernacular style
building popular in the decade after the Civil War. The loss of other similar
ones, like the Gibbs House on Water Street, which burned long ago, and the house
at 87 Evergreen Avenue which has been largely demolished, leave 26 Cuna Street
the best surviving example in St. Augustine.
The house has a hip roof which extends out over two-story wraparound
porches on the south and east sides to take advantage of the best features of
the climate. The windows onfthe porches are DHS 6/6 and extend to the floor
level. Those on the west wall are also DHS 6/6, but shorter.
The siding is wooden weatherboards with cornerboards. There are two
additions to the rear of the.building. The earliest, which dates prior to
1893 is two stories and sided with weatherboards. Behind this is a one-story
post-1930 addition with dropsiding. Both additions have double-hung 1/1 sash.
The foundation is of brick piers and the massive interior offset lateral
slope chimney is also brick, with a decorative corbeled cap.
The entrance is at the western front corner of the house and opens into a
hallway and staircase along the west wall that features a heavy turned newel
post, popular here in 1870s construction, and turned balusters.
Between 1917 and 1924 the original wood shingle roof was covered with
metal, in line with a new city law in the wake of disastrous downtown fires
that banned wood shingle roofs. After the property was acquired in 1966 by
the state agency that was to become the Historic St. Augustine Preservation
Board, the original roof was discovered beneath the metal and reconstructed
with matching shingles.
An early 20th century photograph shows that the porches on this house
originally had paired wooden posts with decorative inserts and ornate jigsawn
balusters. These were removed at the same time the roof was restored and
altered to the current simple balustrad and chamfered single posts.
Paint analysis indicated the present color scheme to have been used
throughout the life of the building, with the exception of the altered porch
posts and balustrade.
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 Colonial
Cerveau House (continued)
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 development
in the area. It is an area of combined tourist, commercial, and residential
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 Company subdivision
developed by Henry Flagler. This section of the colonial city is part of the
National Landmark District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
B. DISCUSSION OF SIGNIFICANCE
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 during the
construction of the Castillo de San Marcos and later as a neighborhood 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 re uilt 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 construc-
tion continued in the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821), with a number of
extant structures, such as the Triay House, the Oldest Schoolhouse, and the
City Gate, dating from this period.(1) By the mid-19th century, 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 essen-
tially 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 centuries with the construction of the massive
city hall at Hypolita Street and with the demolition of colonial structures and
the erection of brick commercial buildings.(2) This section of the street
gradually deteriorated into a depressed business district. Since 1959 the
Historic St. Augustine Preservation 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 buildings are operated as part of a living-history museum, the Spanish
Quarter (formerly San Agustin Antiguo). In addition to the Restoration Area,
this section of the city, especially along Spanish and Cuna Streets, also has
Cerveau House (continued
a large concentration of 19th century buildings, particularly pre-Flagler era,
and even some pre-Civil War structures. Avenida Menendez, formerly Bay Street,
has become a modern commercial street adjacent to both the Restoration Area and
the Castillo de San Marcos.(3)
C. HISTORY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY OF PAST WORK AT SITE
The current building at 26 Cuna is not the first to have stood on the
property. During the period of British occupation a timber-frame and shingle
house in bad condition with a palm thatch roof was listed as belonging to
Sebastian Coll, a member of the Minorcan colony which migrated to St. Augustine
from New Smyrna in 1777.(4)
This or a succeeding colonial building is referred to in deed transactions,
mostly among Minorcan families until 1868.(5)
In 1874 Mary B. and Joseph R. Pacetti made a gift of this piece of land
to their son and daughter-in-law Louis B. and Ida V. Pacetti. Three days
earlier Louis Pacetti had bought adjacent property to the north from the estate
of Mary Strischka, owner of the DeMesa-Sanchez House at 43 St. George Street.
It is probable that the house at 26 Cuna Street was built at this time and,
since Joseph Pacetti, the new owner's father and donor of part of the land, was
a carpenter, it is possible that he built it.(6)
In 1885, when Ida and Louis Pacetti had moved to Baltimore, the house was
sold to Elizabeth Guion of Red Bank, N. J., a utopian socialist community.(7)
The 1899 City Directory lists 26 Cuna Street as the residence of William
Markle, a builder and contractor, and W. J. Foy, an engineer with the Florida
East Coast Railway. The 1911-12 Directory shows it as the home of the widowed
Mary (Mrs. Bartola) Canova.(8)
In 1946 Mrs. Blanche Canova Cerveau, a registered nurse and lifelong
resident of St. Augustine bought the house and lived there for twenty years
until it was sold to the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation
Commission (now the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board) for $19,000.
The press at the time reported Commission Director Earle Newton as noting
"the house was an early American structure that could be restored and used for
rental property for the present," adding that "its real value at the present
is that it will afford access to the property which the commission owns at the
rear of the Spanish Inn." Work was done to rehabilitate the property, includ-
ing restoration of a wood shingle roof, although an attempt to make it look
earlier than in fact it was resulted in the replacement of its distinctive
Victorian porch posts and jigsawn balustrade.(9)
Since that time it has been used as rental property, occupied for many
years by the Straw Market, and as museum offices for the Preservation Board.
It is often called by the name of its last private owner, Blanch Cerveau,
who died in 1983 at the age of 95.(10)
Cerveau House (continued)
1. Pedro Ruiz de Olano, "Plano del Fuerte de San Agustin de la Florida,
y sus contornos," August 8, 1740; Juan Jose Elixio de la Puente, "Piano 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; John Bostwick, et. al, "A Sub-Surface
Archaeological Survey of the Northern Colonial City," (St. Augustine: HSAPB,
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. The Explorer, December 8, 1978.
5. St. Johns County Courthouse, Deed Books I-J, p. 2; P, p. 312, 387
+ 401; R, pp. 380-2.
6. Deed Book U, pp. 614-615, 617.
7. Deed Book EE, p. 625.
8. St. Augustine City Directories 1899 and 1911-12.
9. Deed Book 162, p. 594; Official Records Books 94, p. 655 and 96,
p. 685; St. Augustine Record November 4, 1966.
10. Cerveau obituary in St. Augustine Record January 27, 1983.