Home > Floripedia > St. Augustine, Florida
Site Map

St. Augustine, Florida

Florida: Empire of the Sun


St. Augustine–As the oldest city in America, preserving its ancient charm even in its modern sections, St. Augustine is worthy of more than casual interest. Founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, the little Spanish village struggled for years against unfriendly Indians, and fought off the attacks of freebooters of all nations. Sir Francis Drake burned the town in 1586 and Captain Davis again destroyed it in 1665. The great stone fort, the most interesting and impressive relic of European occupation in North America, was begun in 1638 as a protection against the growing menace of English settlers at Charleston. It was finally completed after one hundred and eighteen years, interrupted periodically by strife and hardship.

Though the town was burned many times thereafter, the fort sheltered its inhabitants against all attacks. Governor Moore of South Carolina, in 1701, and Governor Oglethorpe of Georgia, in 1740, were both forced to withdraw after leading great expeditions up to its frowning walls. St. Augustine received a great influx of Tory refugees during the American Revolution, but after the war, when Florida again became Spanish, it was deserted by nearly all the English residents, leaving only the Spanish garrison, a handful of Spanish villagers and a large colony of Minorcan farmers from New Smyrna, Florida.

Under American ownership, St. Augustine became an important military post during the Seminole Wars and the War Between the States, but declined afterwards until Flagler opened the East Coast with his railroad an- made it a leading winter resort. The principal points of interest are Fort Marion, formerly called Fort San Marco, the old city gates, St. Francis Barracks, the Military Cemetery, the historic Spanish Cathedral and the old house next to the fine library of the St. Augustine Historical Society. The Ponce de Leon Hotel is a model of Spanish Renaissance art, inside and out, and the Flagler Memorial Church is of outstanding architectural beauty.

Many other fine hotels, the golf club, sea wall and especially the beautiful drives on Anastasia Island, where Joseph Hergesheimer has a winter home, are noteworthy. The alligator farm, lighthouse and old coquina rock quarries are interesting sights to see. Farther along the Coastal Highway, just before crossing Matanzas Inlet, the old Spanish fort, Matanzas, may be seen on the right, preserved by the United States as a historic landmark. Matanzas means "place of blood," in memory of Ribaut's four hundred shipwrecked men who were massacred by Menendez at the mouth of the inlet in 1565.

Excerpt from "Florida: Empire of the Sun" Published by the Florida State Hotel Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. 1930.


Home > Floripedia > St. Augustine, Florida
Site Map

Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.