Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Ponce de Leon Statue
Title: Historical Report Ponce de Leon Statue
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 Material Information
Title: Historical Report Ponce de Leon Statue
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Ponce de Leon Statue
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Historic Resources (Condition & Recommendation Reports)
Folder: Ponce de Leon Statue
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
48 King Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Government House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 48 King Street
Coordinates: 29.892465 x -81.313142
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095540
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


The Ponce de Leon Statue is one of St. Augustine's most

significant public monuments. It is located in the Plaza area,

a central green with surrounding buildings on the bayfront.

The Plaza is the central feature of the Colonial City Historic

District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Plaza has been the setting for many of St. Augustine's most

prominent public monuments from colonial times to the present

and the focal point of public ceremonies, improvement drives,

and tree plantings. It has included many features over the

years, among them an alligator pond and an open bandstand

popular for music and political rallies. The original Plaza

area has been augmented by additional green spaces created

after World War I. The additional spaces consist of two small

parks east of the public market place and a third west of

government house. The Plaza has not only been a famous scenic

site for tourists, it is located at the center of the town's

commercial, religious, and governmental life.

The erection of the Ponce de Leon Statue was part of the

expansion of the original plaza which occurred after World War

I. It is located at Ponce de Leon Circle, a half-circular park

due east of the Public Market and west of the Bridge of the

Lions. It is roughly bounded by Avenida Menendez on the east,

Charlotte Street on the west, Cathedral Place on the north, and

King Street on the south.

The statue rests on fill in an area which during the

Colonial Period (1565-1821) was a cove along the shoreline of

the Matanzas Bay. The cove provided shelter for boats and ships

at anchor and was a major reason for the selection and

development of the town site. During the United States

Territorial Period (1821-1845), a seawall was constructed along

the bayfront. The seawall contained a rectangular boat basin at

the previous location of the cove. Around 1890, about the time

of the construction of the wooden bridge to Anastasia Island,

the boat basin was filled and the seawall continued unbroken

along the bayfront. The filled area subsequently became the

setting for a tourist comfort station surround by a few sparse

bushes. The area also included a pit containing alligators.

The fact that the statue is located on fill is a possible

explanation for settling and other structural problems

associated with its base.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth, there

began a trend in the United States, best known as the City

Beautiful Movement, to improve the appearance of urban areas.

Parks and attractive landscape and streetscape features became

commonplace throughout the country. Among the leaders of the

effort to improve the appearance of the city of St. Augustine

was Dr. Andrew Anderson.

Dr. Anderson's first contribution to the beautification of

St. Augustine was a marble statue and fountain. The statue

was destroyed by vandals during the 1940s but the base remains

at the west end of the Plaza near Government House.

Dr. Anderson subsequently made a greater contribution to

the public art of St. Augustine. The third anniversary of the

armistice ending World War I was to be a national observance.

The principal event was the internment of the Unknown Soldier

at Arlington National Cemetery, presided over by President

Warren G. Harding. At the local level, Andrew Anderson decided

to finance the erection of an appropriate memorial to the

residents of St. Augustine who had lost their lives in service.

He commissioned C. Adrian Pillars, a resident of St. Augustine

and sculptor of national significance, to design he base of the


Sometime after November 11, 1922, Dr. Anderson undertook a

third improvement project. With the permission of the city, he

began to develop a new park on the fill area east of the plaza

between Charlotte Street and the Bay Front. The center piece

of the new park space was to be a statue of the discover of

Florida, Juan Ponce de Leon. Through the United States

Department of State, Dr. Anderson secured permission to have a

cast made of the statue of Ponce de Leon which stands near the

explorer's grave in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The J.L. Mott

Foundry cast the original Ponce de Leon statue and the sculptor

was C. Bupert. The Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence,

Rhode Island sent artisans to San Juan to cast a new mould and

fabricated the base made of Dummerston granite.

During a public ceremony on Armistice Day, November 11,

1923, Dr. Anderson presented the statue to the city. The

statue and base replicated the original in San Juan. The

statue was cast in bronze, measured 5'11," and was oriented

toward the north. The base was approximately 10 feet in height

and had garlands, festoons, dentils, and other classical

ornamentation. On the north side were the words: The

Discoverer of Florida Juan Ponce de Leon Landed Near This Spot

1513. On the south side are the words: Presented To The City of

St. Augustine By Andrew Anderson M.D. 1923.

In October, 1987, workers employed by the City of

Augustine measured the statue as follows:

Height of statue: 71"
Length of sword: 41"
Length of handle
to holster: 10-5/16"
Length of holster: 2-3/8"
Band around tip of
sword (height): 1-15/16"
Thickness of sword
at top of blade: 1"
Base of statue: 22-5/6"
Thickness of base
exclusive of adhesive: 21-5/8"

Granite block upon
which statue rests: 30-3/16" square

Height of granite block
upon which statue rests: 11"

The information included above was obtained from records

at the St. Augustine Historical Society, the City of St.

Augustine, and the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board.

Sources included the Florida Master Site File, the St.

Augustine Record, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and other

historic maps. Through Karen Harvey of the St. Augustine

Record, the consultants made direct contacts with the Gorham

Manufacturing Company in Providence to obtain technical

specifications and other information regarding the statue. The

historic records of the Gorham Manufacturing Company are

located at the John Hay Library, Brown University. Samuel

Hough, a consultant for the library, is searching the Gorham

Company records for information about the Ponce de Leon

Monument. Hopefully, the information will be forthcoming and

will assist the city in its efforts to preserve this important

public monument.

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