Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Fornell's Block 18, Lot 9 (Gun Museum on Spanist St.)
Title: Spanish Dragoons Barracks
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Spanish Dragoons Barracks
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Fornell's Block 18, Lot 9 (Gun Museum on Spanist St.)
Physical Description: Clipping/photocopy
Language: English
Publication Date: 1971
Copyright Date: Public Domain
Physical Location:
Box: 6
Divider: Block 18 Lot 9
Folder: Fornell's B18-L9 (Gun Museum on Spanist St.)
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
62 Spanish Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Fornells House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 62 Spanish Street
Coordinates: 29.894559 x -81.313764
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094818
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B18-L9

Full Text

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The dragoons based in St. Augustine during the second

Spanish period moved into a newly repaired masonry structure
in 1792. These quarters were situated on the Present Span-

ish Street driveway of the lot owned by the Security Federal

Savings & Loan Association at 61 Cordova Street.

Cartographic evidence alone shows that the structure

which became the dragoons barracks was constructed prior to

1763. The property is actually described as two houses in

the St. Augustine map of 1764 by Juan Jose Eligio de la

Puente, one of stone and the other of tabby, belonging to

Bartolome Pat6n. It is represented as a three-unit complex

in the city's maps of 1663 by Pablo Castello, 1765 by James

Moncrief, and 1788 by Mariano de la Rocque. Moncrief showed

further that the property's owner was a Mr. Sharp.

The best description of the three-unit complex is that

portrayed by the Rocque map. Two of the structures, one

about eight feet to the south of the other, had their east

sides abutting on the [Spanish] street line and faced each

other. The third structure, just west of the preceding two,

closed the eight-foot space between them. The first two

had porches facing each other, and a partition in the middle,

although the south structure had additionally a small room

at the east end of the porch.



The notebook accompanying Rocque's map identified the

property as Lot No. 124 of Block No. 16. The property was

described as a two-story masonry house in bad condition,

divided inside by tabby partitions. The house and lot be-

longed to the Crown.

The structure went unbidded for at the public sale of

Crown property to individuals held in 1791. It therefore re-
mained as royal property.

The dragoons had been billeted in the British-built,

E-shaped barracks just south of the present Florida National

Guard Headquarters at St. Francis Street. But this building
burned down on May 25, 1792. The East Florida governor con-

sequently ordered the structure in Spanish Street repaired

to provide the cavalrymen with new quarters. On the follow-

ing August 17, Engineer Rocque, having finished the job, de-

livered the structure to the Government.

At the time, the new dragoons barracks was described as

a two-story, shingle-roofed, tabby-floored, masonry structure,

33 feet long and 18 1/2 feet wide. The two rooms on each

story had a door of hoja partida (Dutch style?) at the stair-

way and four other single-leafed doors, all of which were

equipped with three locks, four bolts, and hinges. There

were in addition single-leaf doors at the entrance, the com-

partment under the stairway, and to the yard, all of which

had hinges and bolts. The rooms had also five single-leaf,

six partidas (double hung?), and a Roman-type windows, all

of which were secured by small bolts. One of the upper rooms


contained a rack each for 20 muskets and 40 pistols and

for the saddles, a table, and two benches.

Besides the barracks, there were three other detached

structures on the lot, which measured 217 1/4 feet on the

east and west boundaries and 181 1/2 feet on the north and

south. The masonry kitchen had tabby floor, a single-

leaf door and four windows with hinges and bolts, and a

shingle-covered chimney. The stable was shingle-roofed,

board-lined, and divided in stalls. The privy was made

of boards. A well was lined and curbed with stone. In

the west fence there was a large, two-leafed, framed gate

with large hinges and wooden locking bar. Along the fence

there were orange, lemon, and fig trees.

With modifications the complex delivered to the Gov-

ernment in 1792 and that mapped by Rocque in 1788 are the

same. The given measurements of the two-story quarters

correspond with those obtained from the map for the south

structure. The stable must have been in the structure shown

north on the map. The kitchen must have been in the struc-

ture to the west.

The condition of the dragoons barracks was the subject

of two reports twelve years later. On February 11, 1804,

Engineer Manuel de Hita remarked that the structure, though

small, was adequate for the size of the detachment. If it

became necessary to expand the quarters, the lot afforded

ample space. Although the roof frame of the structure was

sound, the roof itself was rotted and leaky, and some of


the walls were cracked. There was no stable and no hope of

fixing one in a detached structure because the latter was
about to become a ruin. By September 25, when Hita reported

again, the roof of the detached structure had fallen. Even

sick horses were kept outdoors as there was no stable what-

On January 7, 1820, the Dragones de America detachment

commander complained to the East Florida governor about the

poor condition of the barracks where his cavalrymen were bil-

leted. On the 12th the governor ordered the engineer to in-

spect the structure, report on its condition, and submit an

estimate of the cost of whatever repairs were required.10

The following day, Engineer Nicolas de Fano reported that he

had inspected the dragoons barracks, together with Master

mason Don Joaquin Sanchez and Master carpenter Francisco Ma-

rin, and found that it was beyond repair. The south and west

walls were out of alignment with their foundations and, to-

gether with the other two walls, cracked from top to bottom

in many places. The rotted roof was unrepairable because

the walls would not hold it. To repair it, the structure

would have to be razed and built anew. To make an estimate

of repair cost only would therefore be impractical.

On the ensuing February 17, Engineer Fano reported on

the condition of public buildings in St. Augustine. Except

for the royal hospital and the smithy, which had been repaired

lately, all the other structures were rapidly becoming total

ruins. One of these was the dragoons barracks. However,



on the 26th the East Florida governor informed Fano of the

time when the Captain General of Cuba and the Two Floridas

thought it proper to proceed with rebuilding of that struc-

For the transfer of East Florida to the United States

in 1821, Engineer Ram-n de la Cruz prepared an inventory

of all the public buildings in St. Augustine. De la Cruz

described the dragoons barracks as located in Lot No. 124

of Block 16. The barracks was a house with two rooms each

in the lower and upper stories. It was uninhabitable be-

cause the east, south, and west walls were down. The lot

itself was, according to the engineer, the only feature

worth inventorying. Yet a recently roofed, earth-floored

kitchen with chimney and door was in good condition.14

The War Department held title to the public property

in St. Augustine transferred from Spain to the United States.

But apparently the department must have granted permission

for the use of the dragoons barracks by other parties. For

instance, on September 9, 1821, the city-appointed committee

on public property, formed to ascertain possible uses of

military property by civilian authorities, recommended that
the dragoons barracks and its lot be sold. Next, the city

council authorized the mayor on November 23, 1822 to have
the barracks razed and the stoned piled in the small house
on the lot. Mr. R. Loring had brought the building down
by January 20, 1823, and the stone was sold at a public

auction held March 10, at no less than $8 a square with the



purchasers paying half the measuring. And finally, by

February 1, 1827, a Mrs. M. Cooke (?) had placed improve-
ments on the lot, which were purchased by G. P. Clarke.2

The measurements of the dragoons barracks lot were re-

corded by the Clements Survey of 1834-35. The lot belonged

to the United States, and it measured 248 feet on the east,

224 feet on the west, 179 feet on the north, and 156 feet on
the south.

In 1841 the United States cancelled whatever permits

it had granted for use of its property by the city council.

The property involved the old hospital, used as the council

room, the old gunpowder magazine, and the dragoons barracks

lot. The council authorized the mayor to procure the passage
of a law by Congress granting those properties to the city.2

Either the mayor did not make a move or Congress did not oblige,

but anyway on February 9, 1842 the President reserved the dra-

goons barracks lot as part of the St. Augustine military re-

Later the United States permitted another use for the

dragoons barracks lot. In 1864 the Freedman's Aid Society

established a school for black children on it and in 1870

the Secretary of War entrusted the lot to Fatio Dunham, George

W. Atwood, Josue W. Riley, and Pablo Gray. Later a cottage

for the school was built by Dr. Oliver Bronson and turned
over to the American Missionary Society.2

A report on the St. Augustine military reservation ac-

companied with maps was submitted by Engineer Liut. Col. Q. A.


Gillmore on October 22, 1880. The map representing the

dragoons barracks lot recorded that the tract measured

214 feet 7 inches on the east, 209 feet 11 inches on the

west, 253 feet on the north, and 221 feet on the south.

These measurements, however, did not exclude the encroach-

ments of the property owners on the north and south, Mark

and Antonia Andreu and Santiago Gonzalez respectively.

The map also showed a structure labeled "school," 33 feet

long and 15 feet wide with a porch 10 feet long and 3 feet

wide, facing Spanish Street and about 23 feet west of the

street line. South of this structure and forming a right

angle with it, there was a second structure, also labeled

"school," 15 feet square with porches on its east and west

The Gillmore report shows that the size of the dra-

goons barracks lot had increased since acquisition by the

United States. In 1821, the lot had measured 217 feet 3

inches on its east and west sides and 181 feet 6 inches on

the north and south. By 1880, the length of the east and

west sides had decreased to 214 feet 7 inches and 209 feet

11 inches respectively, but the shrinkage was more than

compensated by the increase of the length of the north and

south sides to 253 feet and 221 feet respectively.

The War Department turned the dragoons barracks lot

over to the Department of the Interior on November 20, 1886.

The lot was no longer needed for military purposes.2



1. Brooks Transcripts from the Spanish Archives in Sevilla
relating to Florida 1627-1809, 5 vols. (Library of
Congress): Statement. ., Don Juan Nepomuceno de Que-
sada, St. Augustine, Florida, December 19, 1792, in
volume V, wherein he wrote, "Another house belonging to
the King, which had not been sold at public auction, has
been put in order and is occupied by the dragoons who are
now comfortably quartered."

2. East Florida Papers (LC), Bundle 320, No. 52: Florida,
Afo de 1790. Inventarios, tasaciones y venta en public
remate de las casas y solares del Rey, entry No. 153 up-
dated to 1803.

3. EFP, B. 23, No. 270: Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada
of East Florida to the Captain General of Cuba, St. Au-
gustine, May 27, 1792.

4. EFP, B. 260, No. 1: Inventario formado por el Ingeniero
interino del detalle, Don Ramon de la Cruz. .., St. Au-
gustine, June 4, 1821, 46 ff.

5. EFP, B. 277, No. 52: Inventario hecho por el Ingeniero
Comandante, Don Mariano de la Rocque, con intervenci6n
del Sargento Mayor de esta plaza, Don Manuel de Aldana,
de la casa de mamposteria para alojamiento del Destaca-
mento de Dragones que guarnece dicha plaza y caballos
del Rey, situada en la manzana No. 16 y solar 124, que
consta en el cuaderno del piano de la ciudad, St. Augus-
tine, August 17, 1792.

6. EFP, B. 260, No. 1.

7. EFP, B. 277, No. 52; EFP, B. 171, No. 118: Mariano de la
Rocque, Relaci6n de los reparos ejecutados en los edifi-
cios del Rey. ., St. Augustine, December 31, 1792, 5 ff.

8. EFP, B. 171, No. 371: Engineer Manuel de Hita of East
Florida to Governor Enrique White of East Florida, St. Au-
gustine, February 11, 1804, 24 ff., reporting on condition
of fortifications and public buildings.

9. EFP, B. 171, No. 400: Hita to White, September 25, 1804,
6 ff., in supplementary report on condition of fortifica-
tions and public buildings.

10. EFP, B. 172, No. 212: [The governor of East Florida] to
Engineer Nicolas de Fano of East Florida, [St. Augustine],
January 12, 1820, 1 f.



11. EFP, B. 172, No. 213: [Engineer Nicolas de Fano of
East Florida to the governor of East Florida, St. Au-
gustine], January 13, 1820, 3 ff. Incomplete manu-

12. EFP, B. 172, No. 224: Fano, Relaci6n. ., St. Au-
gustine, February 17, 1820, 19 ff.

13. EFP, B. 172, No. 229: Fano to Governor Josg Coppinger
of East Florida, St. Augustine, February 28, 1820, 1 f.

14. EFP, B. 260, No. 1.

15. C. E. Carter Compp. and ed), The Territorial Papers
of the United States, vol. XXII: The Territory of
Florida 1821-1824 (Washington: National Archives,
1956), 203.

16. St. Augustine City Council Minutes, November 23,

17. Ibid., December 30, 1822.

18. Ibid., January 20, 1823.

19. Ibid., March 5, 1823; East Florida Herald, St. Augus-
tine, Saturday, March 8, 1823.

20. St. Augustine City Council, Miscellaneous Papers,
G. F. Clarke (for G. P. Clarke) to City, February 1,

21. Florida Department of Agriculture (Tallahassee). Field
Notes of the Survey of the City of St. Augustine in the
4th quarter of 1834 and 1st quarter of 1835, by Benjamin
and J. B. Clements.

22. St. Augustine City Council Minutes, 1836-1854, June 15,

23. U. S., Congress, Senate, 41st Congress, 2d session,
Document 50.

24. Captain J. C. Post and Lieut. Col. Q. A. Gillmore,
Report on U. S. Properties in St. Augustine, 1880.

25. Engineer Lieut. Col. Q. A. Gillmore to the Chief of
Engineers, October 22, 1880.

26, Executive Order, November 18, 1886.


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