EDWARD W. LAWSON
21 JOINER STREET
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA
NOTES ON THE AVERO HOUSE:
Real estate titi&s to private properties prior to 1763
are very difficult to prove as we have no title registers of
transfers before that year.
In the Treaty of Paris, 1763, by which Florida was ceded
by Spain to Great Britain, Spanish subjects in the ceded territory
were given 18 months to dispose of their real estate. As the residents
of St. Augustine were mostly directly or indirectly connected with
the Spanish Army, and it was the avowed intention of.the Governor of
Cuba (under whose jurisdiction Florida was at that time)to remove
every Spanish subject from Florida as rapidly as possible, many
private properties had to be abandoned. In order to protect these
owners from total loss, Juan Joseph Elixio de la Puente, who had been
Royal Accountant in St. Augustine ( and was born here) was sent back
to take charge of these abandoned properties and dispose of them as
best he could. In carrying out this task, Juan Joseph drew a sketch
map, based on the official map of 1763 drawn by the Spanish Military
Engineer Pablo Castello. On his map, Juan Joseph listed each individ-
ual property by number and, in his accompanying key, gave the owner's
name and the dimensions of the lot. This map, dated January 22, 1764,
is usually designated as the "De la Puente Map."
1. It is on this De la Puente Map that we find the location of
the Avero House, where it is designated as No. 68 in Block "D" situate
on the west side of St. George Street. The Key describes this property
as "House of Stone, of Antonia de Avero." The adjoining lot on the
South is shown as being vacant. By checking the St. George frontage of
the properties lying between this house and the north side of Cuna St.
it is established that this house is the Antonia Avero House.
2. During the English occupation of St. Augustine (1363-1783) we have
as yet found no record of English ownership of the Avero House.
(Note: In the following records the apparent discrepenctes are
due to the fact that in each case the compiler of the record establish-
ed his own system for numbering the blocks and lots.
It should also be born in mind that a Spanish woman retains
her baptismal name forever afterward. For instance Maria Sanchez is
still Maria Sanchez after she marries. If she wishes, she may add her
husband's name to her own, Maria Sanchez de HernAndez. If her husband
dies, she is still Maria Sanchez even if she marries a second time.)
3. On the return of St. Augustine to Spanish rule, in 1783, the same
allowance of 18months was given British subjects to dispose of their
properties. Due to the influx of Tories into Florida, during our
Revolutionary War, and their trading among themselves, of which we
have few records, it is very difficult to establish the chain of title
during those 20 years.
4. In 1788 The Spanish Military Engineer, Mariano de la Rocque, made
a new map of St. Augustine, drawn to scale and showing individual
properties. In the key accompanying this map, this house is described
as No. 42 in Square 7: "House of Masonry and flat roof in fair con-
dition, with the Kitchen of Wood in bad condition, the lot runs East
to West and is in charge of Don Antonio Fernandez." The map shows
a vacant space immediately south of this house.
Note: Don Antonio Fernandez was a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Spanish Army. At this time he acted as Royal Steward and took poss-
ession of all houses built on Crown land, and all properties in which
the title was in dispute.
5. On August 19, 1790, the Spanish Governor, Don Juan Nepomuceno de
Quesada ordered his Master Mason and his Master Carpenter to make
a survey and inventory of all properties abandoned by English sub-
jects or which had otherwise come into possession of the Crown, in
order that they might be sold at auction to Spanish subjects.
In this inventory the Avero property is listed as No. 104 in
Block 12, with this description:
"A small rubble-work masonry house with lot of the King, with
a wooden kitchen that is worthless; bounded W. by Spanish Street, N.
by house and lot of the heirs of Reimundo [Arrivas] S. by lot of
Santiago Prados E. by the Royal Street. 23 varas t64 feet] N-S by
71 varas [197.4 ft] E-W at 1/2 real the square vara............ 816*
Rubble-work masonry walls 18 by 4 varas [49.4 by 11 feet] at
1 reales per square vara............... i'. .................. 108J
Note: The St. George Street frontage is given as 23 varas;
De la Puente gives the Avero House 15 varas frontage. So this in-
ventory adds 8 varas [21.6 feetlof the vacant lot to the south.
6. Translation from photostat in St. Augustine Historical Soc-
iety Library, translator's name not given, source not given, prob-
ably from East Florida Papers, Library of Congress. Noted by Mrs.
Alberta Johnson, 1938.
Title of possession to heirs of Juan Sanchez, confirmed by
Spanish Governor Enrique White, Feb. 17, 1803. [Extract]
"Therefore, being inheritors of the deceased Juan Sanchez,
included in this Royal donation, as they are owners of a building
and lot No. 104, Block 12, property acquired by purchase at auction,
April 3,1791, this property having been measured and the landmarks
having been set, contained in the frontside 23 varas, and east to
west 71 varas--North by Arrivas, south with another building belong-
ing to Francisco Arnau, west by Spanish St."
7. Same location and conditions as No.6 above*
December 30, 1803. [Extracts by E.W.L.J
"Let it be known that I, Maria Castaneda, widow of Juan
Sanches, I, a resident of this City do hereby sell to Juan Paredes
an adjacent lot situated in the Royal Street which faces the 'Puente
de Tierra' (earth gate) [should be Puerta de la Tierra, i.e. Gate to
the Land] and is half of that which my already mentioned deceased
husband possessed and bought atAa public auction which was held by
order of the Government of those lots and houses which went back
to the Royal Patrimony when the English gave back to the Spanish
Treasury property, and for this same reason one of these properties
which was given to the buyers of them by His Majesty by his Royal
permit of June 1801. This same Government issued the title corres-
ponding to the said property, by virtue of the mentioned Royal Grant,
to the heirs of my above mentioned deceased husband on Feb. 18 of this
i year. All of this property was adjudicated to me, with a new house
which the deceased had built, in the extrajudicial sharing whiuh I
made of the properties which remain due to the death of my above
mentioned husband, with other coeirs to said property, by Decree of
the Governor issued on May 21st last... Whose half of the lot, run-
ning north and south measures eleven and a half varas. [Note: See No.5
where the tot al frontage is 23 varas, and the Avero frontage given
by De la Puente is 15 varas. Now it seems the Avero front is reduced
to 11 varas which would move it 15.3 feet farther N. from Cuna, and
give the Curiosity Shop a frontage of 32 feet] its full depth (front
to rear) which runs from the above mentioned Calle Real (Real Street)
to the adjoining south street to the east, to Spanish St. which bor-
ders on the west, C The translator seems confused here. I would say
this should read its full depth ( front to rear) runs from the above
mentioned Calle Real (Royal Street)which is its east border, to Span-
ish St. which borders it on the west"] on the north side with the
house and lot which I still own, on the south side with adjoining
properties, belonging to Francisco Amedo and of Pedro Llull; and I
sell to him [ParedesJ ... and at the same time I reinforce it against
S the wall of the house that, with the lot, remains my property and
free of all obligations."
8. East Florida Papers, Library of Congress, 1813: p.11 verso:
[Extract] Maria Castaneda sells to Pedro Fucha house on Calle
Real leading to Puerto de la Tierra, 1/2 [N. half] of lot her de-
ceased husband bought at auction. This sale on March 4, 1813.
9. I do not have in my file any data on the sale of this property
by Pedro Fucha [Fushal. It may be possible to trace it back from
Stephan Arnau in the St. Johns County Archive.
Edward W. Lavon
-^^ hcLd c,-K