Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Bridge of Lions
Title: Statement of Significance
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 Material Information
Title: Statement of Significance Bridge of Lions
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Bridge of Lions
Physical Description: Research notes
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Bridge of Lions
Folder: Bridge of Lions
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Bridge of Lions (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.892796 x -81.310269
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095512
Volume ID: VID00006
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Statement of Significance (use continuation sheet if necessary)
The Bridge of Lions is a landmark in the city of St. Augustine. Its
graceful arches and tile-roofed towers reflect the town's Spanish heritage
as seen in the Castillo de San Marcos and the Catholic Cathedral, as well as
its more recent Mediterranean architecture, in the Flagler hotels and the
First National Bank building (now the Atlantic Bank). With the two large
lion statues flanking its approach, the Bridge of Lions forms a grand
entrance to Anastasia Island. Since the time it was built, it has been
highlighted in promotional brochures as a point of interest for tourists.

By far the largest undertaking attempted in modern times by the local
government, the "million dollar bridge" is the result of liberal and
enlightened thinking during the height of the 1920's Florida land boom.
Community leaders planned for St. Augustine to become a seaside resort such
as Daytona Beach or Miami. This structure would enhance the beauty of the
bayfront and at the same time bring the city its share of boomtime prosperity
by opening Anastasia Island for development. Although their grand hopes
collapsed with the crash of the land boom, followed by the Great Depression,
the bridge remains--as its builders intended--a monument to the "good taste,
daring optimism and faith of the people of this progressive community."2

As early as the 1820's tourists were chartering small boats for
excursions to Anastasia Island. The first regular transportation to the
island came around 1885 when the St. Augustine and South Beach Railway
began running a ferry from a dock at the end of King Street across the bay
to a landing from which a small railroad with horse-drawn cars ran across
the mud flats to the lighthouse and South Beach.3

In 1895 the railway company built a flat wooden bridge with a swing
span from King Street to a point on the island just south of the present
bridge. This was a toll bridge, with carriages to take passengers between
Anastasia Island and the train depot. After major renovation in 1904 to
permit automobile traffic, the bridge passed into the hands of the St. Johns
Light and Power Company, which ran an electric trolley line across it and
part way down the island.

By 1917 the wooden bridge was again outmoded and had become an eyesore
on the bayfront. The county commissioned specifications for a new, toll-free
bridge from South Street to the island, but tax revenues were found in-
adequate to build it.5 The campaign for civic improvements was renewed in
1923. Among those advocating a modern bridge were city manager Eugene
Masters, the St. Augustine Record, Dr. Andrew Anderson, and the Kiwanis Club.
A study committee was formed under the leadership of H.N. Rodenbaugh,
Vice President and General Manager of the Florida East Coast Railroad.6

That winter a radically different concept emerged. Instead of an
inexpensive bridge not much different from the existing one, it was proposed
to build a permanent bridge of high quality, one which would complement the
city's attractiveness by harmonizing with its historic and architectural
ambience.7 Dr. Anderson, who was a wealthy resident and an associate of
Henry Flagler, donated two statues to beautify the approach. They were

911= =

DEPARTMENT OF STATE SiteName Bridge of Lions
Division of Archives, History
and Records Management
DS-HSP-3E 9-74



matching lions, modeled in Carrara marble by F. Romanelli after those at the
Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.8

The prestigious J.E. Greiner Company of Baltimore was awarded the engineer-
ing contract. Their design called for a structure with concrete piers and steel
arches, with its western terminus at the plaza.9 The proposed bridge had its
critics. Some still wanted it to be located at Bridge or South Street away from
the center of town and the scenic bayfront. Others questioned the novel concrete-
and-steel construction.10 The city commissioners, however, accepted the Greiner
proposal and the public voted overwhelmingly, nine to one, to finance it with a
bond issue.11 William Willoughby, formerly of the Florida East Coast Railroad,
was named Greiner' supervising engineer. P.T. Cox Company of New York City was
chosen contractor.

Work began on July 20, 1925, only to be slowed down for half a year by
shortages of sand, gravel and cement. The Florida East Coast Railroad, over-
burdened with traffic from the Florida land boom, had declared a freight embargo.13
In 1926 the cost of the bridge rose from $611,000 to $911,000 when developer
D.P. Davis received permission to dredge fill from the bay bottom, making it
necessary to alter the plans and deepen the foundations.14 Despite these setbacks,
the bridge was opened for traffic February 26, 1927, and officially dedicated
during the Ponce de Leon Celebration on April 7.15 Its official name of Matanzas
River Bridge soon gave way to the more popular Bridge of Lions.

Davis, a Tampa millionaire, used the fill dredged from the bay to create
Davis Shores, the first major development on Anastasia Island. He laid out a
grand resort and residential community, with five major boulevards radiating from
the foot of the bridge. Promotional material emphasized the easy access to town
by foot or by auto.16 The mundane trolleycar service across the bridge 1o the
beaches, which would continue until the mid-30's, went without mention.

St. Augustine's "million dollar bridge," with the trolleycar tracks still
embedded in its pavement, stands today as the most prominent structure from the
1920's. Davis Shores at the one end and the Atlantic Bank building and Vaill
business block at the other, are other reminders of the boom decade. Yet the
bridge's historical importance extends beyond St. Augustine. The Florida Section
of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1976 recognized the Bridge of Lions
as one of the two most significant bridges built in the 1920's in the State of

DEPARTMENT OF STATE Site Name Bridge of Lions
Division of Archives, History
and Records Management
OS-HSP-3E 9-74



1. Bridge of Lions File, Attractions and Guidebooks Collection, St.
Augustine Historical Society.

2. St. Augustine Record, 27 February 1927.

3. "Six Visions of St. Augustine," Atlantic Magazine (August 1886),

4. Tatler (St. Augustine), 28 March 1903, 27 February 1904; St. Augustine
Record, 6 February 1903, 8 May 1903, 10 March 1904, 17 March 1904, 21 April 1904,
15 September 1904, 15 December 1904, 10 January 1908.

5. St. Augustine Record, 14 July 1917, 17 July 1917, 9 July 1919, 15 July
1919, 16 July 1919.

6. Ibid., 27 February 1927, 6 April 1927; Minutes of the City Council of
St. Augustine, 1913-1925, s.v. "1 January 1924."

7. St. Augustine Record, 30 April 1924.

8. City Manager to J. E. Greiner, 1 August 1924, and J. E. Greiner to
Eugene Masters, 4 August 1924, in Matanzas Bridge Papers, St. Augustine
Historical Society; Thomas Graham, The Awakening of St. Augustine: The Anderson
Family and the Oldest City, 1821-1924 (St. Augustine Historical Society, 1978),
pp. 230-32.

9. St. Augustine Record, 29 April 1924, 23 July 1924; copy of telegram
from Eugene Masters to J. E. Greiner, 22 October 1924, in Matanzas Bridge Papers.

10. St. Augustine Record, 23 July 1924; in Matanzas Bridge Papers: City
Manager to U.S. District Engineer, Jacksonville, 15 December 1924; City Manager
to J. E. Greiner, 6 December 1924; J. E. Greiner, Report to Lt. Col. Gilbert A.
Youngberg, U.S. District Engineer, 13 December 1924; J. E. Greiner to Eugene
Masters, 5 January 1925; Robert Ranson to Eugene Masters, 9 June 1925.

11. "An Ordinance Providing for the Issue of . Bonds of the City of
St. Augustine," in Matanzas Bridge Papers; St. Augustine Record, 13 March 1925.

12. J. E. Greiner to City Commission, 28 March 1925, in Matanzas Bridge
Papers; Who's Who in Engineering, 1931, s.v. "Willoughby, William"; St. Augustine
Record, 30 March 1925, 6 April 1927.

13. In Matanzas Bridge Papers: City Manager to P. T. Cox, 2 December 1925;
Weekly Reports of William Willoughby, 22 August 1925, and 29 August 1925.

14. St. Augustine Record, 2 October 1925, 21 October 1925, and 27 February
1927; in Matanzas Bridge Papers: Greiner to Cox, 24 October 1925; Weekly Reports
of William Willoughby for October 1925; "Location Plan of Proposed Matanzas
River Bridge, October 30, 1924."

DEPARTMENT OF STATE Site Name Bridge of Lions
Division of Archives, History
and Records Management
DS HSP-3E 9-74



15. St. Augustine Record, 27 February 1927, 7 April 1927, and 8 April 1927.

16. Ibid., 27 February 1927; Weekly Report of William Willoughby, [date
obscured, July 1925], in Matanzas Bridge Papers; "Pictorial Record of Davis
Shores," brochure dated 15 January 1927 in Davis Shores File, Attractions and
Guidebooks Collection, St. Augustine Historical Society.

17. [Jean Parker Waterbury], "Clang, Clang, Clang, Went the Trolley
The East Florida Gazette, October 1980.

18. J. Paul Hartman, Civil Engineering Landmarks, State of Florida
(Orlando: Florida Section of American Society of Civil Engineers, 1976),
pp. 18-19. For an over-all history and evaluation see Robert M. McDaniel, "The
Bridge of Lions," typescript (St. Augustine Historical Society, 1981).

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