About St. Augustine

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St. Augustine, America’s “Oldest City” is a quaint historic community with a storybook quality, off busy interstates and away from the flash of a theme park atmosphere. Located in the northeast corner of Florida in a landscape of moss-draped live oaks, sabal palms, palmetto, marsh grass, sand dunes and miles of beaches, it brims with interesting and fun things to see and do.

In a young country like America, where old is a relative term, the city of St. Augustine is really old and has sites to prove it. Founded by the Spanish in 1565 as a defense bastion during their New World exploration, it offered protection to the armadas as they traveled the Gulf Stream transporting riches from Central and South America. It pre-dates the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620 and even the 1607 Jamestown settlement and, much to the fascination of visitors, elements of the Spanish period remain to experience.

Location is the reason the area was so desirable to the Spanish and to the indigenous Timucuan Indians before them. Location is why it was fought over and controlled off and on by both the Spanish and the British from the late 1600s through the 1700s, and was finally acquired by a fledgling America in 1821. Location is why railroad magnate Henry Morrison Flagler built it into a winter resort for the wealthy during the gilded age of the late 19th century. It is also the reason visitors flock there today.

St. Augustine offers a wonderful combination of past and present, old and new. A walk through the historic Ancient City peels away the cultural layers of the past. For history buffs of all ages, a remarkable collection of historic landmarks chronicles the passage of time, beginning in the 16th century, and offers unequalled immersion experiences. As such, St. Augustine is a must see destination for young people and adults alike.

Walk down narrow cobblestone streets lined with diminutive buildings of coquina stone and wood. Peer through the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in continental North America and imagine how the Spanish guarded their settlement. Discover the oldest wooden building in the United States, a schoolhouse dating to the early 1700s, and learn about life in the remote outpost in the Colonial Spanish Quarter.

Among these relics from the Spanish period, find examples of the rugged yet simple life of the Florida Crackers, hardy American pioneers who homesteaded the newly acquired territory beginning in the early to mid 1800s. In contrast, marvel at the lavish excess of America’s industrial wealth of the late 1800s at one of the greatest architectural specimens in the Southeast, the heavily ornamented Spanish Renaissance Flagler College, at one time the Hotel Ponce de Leon. The gilded Rotunda with ornate carvings and the Dining Hall dappled in the glow of 79 Tiffany stained glass windows are astounding.

While strolling from one fascinating venue to another, hunt through antiques shops, browse through art galleries, find the perfect curio along St. George Street or something special in trendy boutiques. Enjoy the culinary pleasure of diversely tasty food served in casual bayside or oceanfront restaurants, in curbside bistros, Spanish tavernas, sleek contemporary dining venues, or opulent dining rooms.

There is more than history in St. Augustine. For water, sun, and beach lovers, expanses of sandy beaches to the north and south offer swimming, surfing, shelling or a wonderful spot to just lie in the sun with a good book. For naturalists, there are tidal salt marshes and nature preserves to explore. A golfer’s dream, great golf courses are scattered throughout the area, including Sawgrass, host of the PGA Players Championship, the Ponce de Leon Golf course, the oldest in Florida, or the World Golf Village.

St. Augustine Beach Towns To Visit

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Only minutes away from the historic Old City lies all that is synonymous with Florida: miles of white sand beaches; small oceanside villages; newer waterfront developments; parks with tidal marshes and old Florida live oak hammocks; nature trails to explore, on foot or by boat; glorious sunsets; waterside restaurants serving fresh seafood; and swimming, shelling and golfing to enjoy.
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Flagler College / Ponce De Leon Hotel

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The magnificent structure was erected between 1885 and 1887 by Henry M. Flagler, the hotel and railroad magnate whose activities contributed greatly to the development of Florida’s eastern coastal area.  Designed by New York architectural firm of Carrere an Hastings, the building reflects the Spanish Renaissance style throughout.  The hotel was first the major edifice in the United States to be constructed of poured concrete, a mixture of cement, sand, and coquina shell.  The interior is decorated with imported marble, carved oak, and murals painted by Louis Tiffany of  New York.  The Ponce de Leon Hotel was the flagship of the Flagler hotel system which soon extended all along the east coast of Florida.  Located in the “Winter Newport,” this resort hotel entertained celebrities from around the world,  including several U.S. Presidents.  During World War II, the hotel served as a Coast Guard Training Center.  In 1968, this historic landmark was converted into Flagler College, an accredited liberal arts institution.  Independent and coeducational, the college serves students from across the nation.

Telephone: 904-829-6481

Web: https://www.flagler.edu/

Address: 74 King Street, St Augustine, FL 32084

Grace United Methodist Church

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Grace United Methodist Church is a reminder of the tremendous physical impact Henry Flagler had on St. Augustine. This complex of structures resulted from a compromise between Flagler and the congregation of Oivet Church. That group of northern Methodists agreed to exchange the land on which their church and parsonage stood for a new complex designed by John M. Carrere and Thomas Hastings. Flagler, in turn, employed the same architects in designing his Alcazar Hotel, which rose on the former Olivet site. Construction began in 1886 and was completed in late 1887. Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated in January 1888. The church and parsonage are excellent examples of the Spanish Renaissance Revival Style of architecture, and the decision to execute the design in poured concrete resulted in unusual and aesthetically pleasing structures which have stood the tests of time and the elements. Grace United Methodist Church was entered in the National Register of Historic Placed on November 29, 1979.

Telephone: 904-829-8272

Web: https://www.graceumcstaugustine.org/

Address: 8 Carrera Street, St Augustine, FL 32084

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Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

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St. Augustine had no Protestant church when it became an American town in1821. At first, a united Protestant church was favored. Many denominations sent missionaries such as Presbyterian Eleazer Lathrop, who first arrived in 1821. By October, 1823, the few resident Presbyterians had decided to build their own church. Rev. William McWhir arrived to organize the congregation. In 1824, the First Presbyterian Church was constituted and a cornerstone was laid for a structure. That church, which was located on St. George Street, housed Florida’s first formally constituted Presbyterian congregation in to 1890.

Henry M. Flagler, whose efforts greatly aided the opening of the east Florida coast for development, built the Memorial Presbyterian Church in memory of his daughter, Jennie Flagler Benedict, who died tragically in 1889. He presented the magnificent Venetian Renaissance style structure to the First Presbyterian Church. Upon moving into the new building in 1890, the congregation took the name Memorial Presbyterian Church in honor of their benefactor. The remains of Henry Flagler lie beside those of his first wife, Mary, and his daughter in the mausoleum.

Telephone: 904-829-6451

Web: https://www.memorialpcusa.org/

Address: 36 Sevilla Street, St Augustine, FL 32084

The Old Jail

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Built by Henry Flagler in 1891 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the Old Jail served as the St Johns County Jail until 1953. Originally built to house up to 72 prisoners, the two storey northern wing of the Jail consists of a general population and maximum security area, a women’s section and a lower level kitchen. Maximum Security housed the most dangerous prisoners held at the Jail and includes a Death Row cell, for those condemned to die. A total of 8 men were hung from the Gallows on the Jail compound during its history. Overall conditions at the Jail for those serving varying sentences were quite poor by modern standards and prisoners were typically used as free farm laborers during the day. Baths were infrequent, toilet facilities consisted of one bucket per cell and diet was poor and was typically supplemented by any animals that the prisoners might catch while working on the fields. Segregation by race was steadfastly adhered to at the Jail and disease, violence and death were commonplace. The two story southern wing of the Jail consists of an Office for the Sheriff and living quarters for his family. The St. Johns County Jail now serves as the Old Jail Museum.

The Old Jail Museum consists of a restored jail with sheriff’s living quarters. It also contains a display of weaponry. Your guided tour led by the jailers includes a close-up view of the men’s and women’s cells, maximum security, as well as a collection of weapons. See where the sheriff and his wife and children lived right upstairs from the prisoners and used their own kitchen to prepare meals for the inmates. The Old Jail deputies will entertain you with tales of justice and punishment when Florida was America’s southernmost frontier. You might even meet America’s most feared sheriff, Joe Perry. It’s a fun and historic outing for adults and children.

Telephone: 904-829-3800

Web: www.trustedtours.com

Address: 167 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, FL 32080

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St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum

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“The St. Augustine Lighthouse is on the north end of Anastasia Island, within the current city limits of St. Augustine, Florida. The tower, built in 1874, is owned by the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, a not-for-profit maritime museum and private aid-to-navigation. Open to the public, admissions support continued preservation of the Lighthouse and fund programs in maritime archaeology and education.” – www.wikipedia.com

Telephone: 904-829-0745

Web: https://www.staugustinelighthouse.com/

Address: 81 Lighthouse Avenue, St Augustine, FL 32080

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