Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 37 Lot 7, St. Peter's Church
Title: The National School or King's Escuela
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: The National School or King's Escuela
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 37 Lot 7, St. Peter's Church
Physical Description: Research notes
Language: English
Creator: Johnson, Alberta
Physical Location:
Box: 7
Divider: Block 37
Folder: Block 37 Lot 7, St. Peter's Church
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
St. Peter's Church Site (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.890144 x -81.312581
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094866
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B37-L7

Full Text



By Mrs. Alberta Johnson
(from library of Florida
Historical Society Library).

This second school supported by funds from the Spanish

Treasury was known as the Escuela or King's School. Just what

date this was established is not certain, the earliest refer-

ence found being in 1803. This building of stone and wood con-

sturction with its lot extending to the Plaza, according to

the Escrituras or East Florida Papers (L.ofC.) was sold in

1793 by Juana Perpall Humbret for the purpose of building the

present Cathedral. Our orange grove, at that time, occupied

the area where now stands the Church and Rectory.

Ramou de la Cruz, the Spanish engineer who made a report

on public properties at the time Florida was ceded to the

United States in 1821 gives a detailed description of the

building, its walls, doors, windows, and stairway.

Gabriel Perpall, in his deposition concerning the settle-

ment of church claims on this property, stated that the house

had been intended for use as a parsonage or rectory, but as

the priests usually had a home of their own, this building be-

came a school of the Spanish government. Other legal records

also refer to this "School of the Spanish Government.

NOTE: Our earlier school, established by Father Hassett on
the lot, known as "Las Animas", operated until at least
1799 or later.

I -k * ,

Apparently the question of salary was still important

and still a problem to those in authority, even through those

turbulent years of 1812-1813. These were the years of the

"Patriots War; the adoption of the new, but shortlived,

Spanish Constitution; and the erection of the Constitutional

Monument in the Plaza. Where and how funds were to be raised

was the chief topic of discussion of the inhabitants at a

meeting of the City Council, February 1, 1813, when the

governor opened a document regarding a Master of writing,

grammar, orthography, and arithmetic.

An attorney was directed to find out what funds were

available for the schoolmaster. Information on funds was

presented at the next meeting of the council on February 8,

but no means or excise taxes could be discovered which would

permit paying sixty pesos a month as assigned him without in-

jury to the public funds, as the annual income was but 500


And yet a Royal Order recommended to the governor "How

necessary was the establishment in the city and Province of

a second Master that had been asked for in January of the past

year." How this weighty problem was solved is not explained,

but apparently in some satisfactory manner, and that the

school continued is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of

those Spanish citizens of St. Augustine.

Troubles were again encountered in 1819, but this time

were of military nature. The Spanish governor had acquired


a detachment of soldiers from Malaga, and had nowhere to put

them. In his desperation at finding a roof to shelter the

soldiers, he had requistioned "The building close by the

Parish Church used for a school" and installed his soldiers

in it. The pupils of the school were transferred to a part

of the old Government House. In this old buTiding (Post Of-

fice, formerly the Governor's Mansion) badly in need or re-

pairs, the ro m assigned the schoolmaster was found to have

numerous leaks during the frequent rains, also impossible

to heat in the cold, causing the children to be deprived of

many days of education. This unpleasant situation was brought

to the attention of the governor and an appeal was made to let

the children return to their own place and the soldiers to thh

Government House. This was done after instructions to this

effect were sent from Havana.

Not long after, in this same year 1819, a Treaty be-

tween Spain and the United States was signed though not ratified

until 821, where on July 10th, the American flag was raised

over the old Spanish fort, Casriilo de San Marcos, and Florida

became a territory of the United S-:.tes. This "Casa de la

Escuela" was claimed as a public property by the United States

Government, and here, on the second floor, the City Council

was given temporary accommodations, and the lower floor ap-

propriated for the holding of Territorial Court. The remain-

ing rooms in this building were rented to private individuals


who would conduct a private or pay school.

On December 20, 1822, at a meeting of the City Council,

a resolution appears in the minutes "That the lower part of

City Hall be given Mrs. Girty for the purpose of a school un-

til such time as it shall be wanted for a more important one

or for other purposes." And on January 24, 1823, at a City

Council Meeting, a letter from Mr. Carter and Mr. Waldo was

read, in which they solicit the room in the lower part of the

City Hali for the purpose of establishing a classical and

English school.

On November 15, 1823, a resolution was of ered to the

effect that James P. Carter be permitted to have the room now

occupied by him free from rent provided that he cousents to

receive the children of indigent parents into his school free

of charge for schooling. This school continued until the

Church Wardens demanded possession of the building on the

claim of its being Church property.

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