|The Flagler Construction Era
Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
ab urbe condita - 320 to 335
|American Period - The Flagler Gilded Age - The Poured Concrete City.
St. Augustine in 1885
George Alba was the deputy collector at the customs house. Dr. Lawrence Alexander was a physician located on
Ceiland Street near Locust. Dr. Andrew Anderson was a physician practicing near Bronson Street. Francis and
John Andreau were butchers at the city market on Hospital street across from public school #1. Peter Arnau was
the Superintendent of Public Schools. William H. Atkins was the city clerk. Major General Romeyn B. Ayres was
the Commander of the 2nd U. S. Artillery at the St. Francis Barracks. The Bank of St. Augustine was located on
St. George Street. George M. Brown was the Ordinance Sergeant in charge of Fort Marion. Mrs.. Sarah M. Burt
was the principal of the Colored Industrial School on Bronson (Buckingham Smith Association.) Lorenzo Capella
was a cigar manufacturer on Charlotte Street near Treasury. Philip Capo was running his Bath House on Marine
Street. Charles P. Carver was a dentist on King Street at Tolomato. Frank M. Clark was the General agent on the
St. Johns Railway. Merian R. Cooper was an attorney. C. M. Cooper was the attorney general. James Currie was
the Commissary Sergeant at St. Francis Barracks. Frank Clark was a General agent on the St. Johns Railway.
William M Cox was a photographer on St. George Street near the City Gate. Fred Craven was the foreman at the
St. Augustine Gas Company. Samuel W. Crichlow was the Manager of the International Ocean Telegraph
Company and Southern Express Co. William Dewhurst was the Postmaster and an attorney. John Dismukes was
the President of the National Bank of St. Augustine. Richard Donovan was the band leader of the 2nd U.S. Artillery
Band. Edward Staples Drown was the Principal of the St. Augustine School. Dr. Charles A. Dunham was a
physician. David Dunham was the County Tax Collector. William Eichbaum was the Superintendent of St.
Augustine Gas & Electric Light Company. Wils W. Estes was a dentist. Henry Gaillard was the assistant Secretary
and Treasurer of the Florida Coast Line & Trans. Company. Dr. Joseph R. Gibson was the Surgeon at the St.
Francis Barracks. Dr. Edward M. Goodrich was a dentist near the City Gate. W. A. Harn and Joseph Ranty were
the lightkeepers. Edward J. Houston (African American) was the City Tax Collector. Edward F. Joyce was running
the Artesian Well Company on St. George Street. Henry B. Lane was the Station Agent of the St. Johns Railway.
John G. Long was the Mayor. George Lopez was the assistant Post Master. James A. McGuire and Joseph A.
McDonald were builders and architects at the San Marco Hotel. Miss Lydia S. Munday was the Principal of St.
Augustine Academy Parish Aid Cottage. R. W. Nesbitt was the Roadmaster for the Jax St. Augustine and Halifax
River Railroad. Bartholomew Oliveros was the County Clerk for the 4th Judicial Circuit. John Papino (African
American) was the City Marshal. R. P. Peebles was a conductor on the Jax, St. Augustine & Halifax River
Railroad. George Pierron was a photographer on Marine Street at Hypolita. Nicholas Rogero was a cigar
manufacturer at St. George and Hypolita. Verancio Sanchez was the Spanish Consul. O. D. Seavey was manager
of the Hotel San Marco. Miss Caroline A. Sherman was the librarian at the St. Augustine Free Public Library. Dr.
H. C. Sloggett was physician at the E. F. L. & I. Company. Dr. Frank F. Smith was a physician in the Post office.
T. W. Speissegger and Son had their drug store on Bay Street.E. F. Joyce was superintendent of the St. Augustine
Water Works. Rinaldo Von Balsan was a photographer at Bridge Street near Hospital. Newton B. Walker was the
Ticket Agent and Marshall Williams was the Station Agent for the Jax, St. Augustine and Halifax River Depot. Dr.
De Witt Webb a physician on St. George Street. John Wescott was President of Florida East Coast Canal and T.
Co. John P. Whitney was publisher of the St. Augustine Press. Raphael F. Ximanies was the tax assessor.
Isaac Cruft Brings a Quality Hotel Experience to St. Augustine at the San Marco Hotel
Isaac Cruft could be viewed as one of the first and very underrated developers of Florida. The San Marco Hotel
started January 1 1884 and opened in 1885, was the main competition to Henry Flagler's hotels. Henry Flagler and
his second wife, Ida Alice Shrouds, spent their honeymoon in this hotel. In part, this beautiful new hotel convinced
Flagler that St. Augustine had possibilities. The hotel was unique for St. Augustine in that it sat on twenty acres of
land and created its own environment.
Mr. Isaac W. Crufts of Boston built the San Marco. Originally a ship builder, Mr. Crufts was an established hotel
owner when he built the San Marco. His first hotel was the Maplewood in the White Mountains of New York, and
in March 1882, he built the Magnolia Hotel on the St. Johns River near Green Cove Springs. It could be said that
Crufts was the first person to transform St. Augustine from a backwater town.
Four stories high and 25 acres of ground, the San Marco was built on the highest ground in St. Augustine, next to
the Castillo de San Marcos. It had a view of the bay, ocean, and surrounding country. The hotel was four stories
tall and the towers could be seen 15 miles out in the ocean. There were roughly 275 rooms in 1885 and the hotel
could hold about 600 guests. The cost was $2.50 to $6 per day. Corridors extended the entire length of the hotel,
with guest rooms on both sides. Guests could use the large elevator, or the stairs to access the upper floors.
The office, parlors, reading and writing-rooms occupied most of the first floor. The dining-hall was west of the main
hotel and was a large, lofty room with windows on three sides. A theatre was attached to hotel where dances and
entertainments were held. The hotel also offered a newsstand, barbershop, billiard room, private docks, and a café
in addition to tennis and croquet courts. The superintendent of the work and grounds is Col. James Smith.
For a guest at this hotel the week would start with a sacred concert on Sunday evening and end with a card party
on Saturday night. One unique opportunity in the hotel was that the guests were able to pick their own vegetables
from the hotel garden for their meals.
As the competitor to Flagler's hotels, the San Marco advertisements used "built on natural ground," "high and dry,"
and "large and airy" to capitalize on the Flagler Hotels being built on a former tidal area.
Henry Flagler would steal the hotel manager Osborn Seavey and the builders McGuire and McDonald away from
Cruft for his new hotels.
Villa Zorayda and Franklin Smith
The architectural rebirth of the city starts in 1883 with the building of Villa Zorayda by Franklin Smith. This is the
second house in the United States built of poured concrete. He models it after the Alhambra Castle in Spain. He
chooses the name Zorayda from Washington Irving's book on the Alhambra. Over the front door is the inscription in
Arabic letters: Wa La ghalib illa lla--" There is no conqueror but God." This house incorporates features such as
coquina (resembling the Castillo) and Moorish architecture for the Spanish heritage of the city. There were to be
more Moorish buildings in St. Augustine. (Moorish Architecture) The coquina mixed with Portland concrete
technique that Smith uses in his house is the foundation of the Flagler era building in St. Augustine. Flagler uses the
technique to build the Ponce de Leon and the Alcazar. Smith will use it to build the Casa Monica.
Florida School for the Deaf and Blind
Thomas Hines Coleman and Governor W. D. Boxham worked together to establish the Florida School for the Deaf
and Blind in St. Augustine. In December of 1884 the Florida Deaf and Blind School was completed in St.
Augustine. The schools first graduation was held in 1898 with Artemas W. Pope and Cora Carlton as the first
graduates. One former student that almost everyone knows is the famous Ray Charles.
William G. Warden
William G. Warden another Standard Oil associate builds Warden's Castle (picture). His contribution would be
The St. Augustine Improvement Company organized in 1885.
The News begins to Leak Out (Florida Times Union, May 20, 1885)
Saint Augustine to Build Another to Contain Five Hundred Rooms
From sources which we deem entirely reliable we learn that St. Augustine is to have another hotel, larger even than
the San Marco, to be built in the heart of the city, and to contain five hundred rooms.
The Sunnyside Hotel, a square west of the plaza on King street has been purchased by a company of Northern
capitalists, among them Mr. Franklin W. Smith, of Boston, who has just had built across the street from it a Moorish
castle after the olden style. It is said that something like a million dollars will be spent in buying the site, additional
grounds, the building and the furniture.
There will be four eight-inch artesian wells, with power to throw water into the fifty story of the building. This will
supply the water. Otis Bros. will put in an improved gigantic elevator. The furniture will be mixed, but all the most
Maria Sanchez Creek will be filled in to form the rear of the hotel, and a street will be opened alongside of it.
John A. Maguire, who built the San Marco, will have the contract, and it is expected that the work will begin right
away, as it is intended to open the new hotel next January.
Ponce de Leon, Alcazar, Sunnyside Hotel
The crown jewels of the Victorian Era in St. Augustine are the Ponce de Leon Hotel with it's sisters: the Alcazar
(picture) and the Casa Monica (architect and built by Franklin W. Smith, builder S. B. Mance). 1888 was the year
of the great Spanish revival in large St. Augustine buildings. Henry Flagler started his hotel chain in St. Augustine and
railway from Jacksonville to this city (in 2000 he was listed as a great Floridian.). When the Ponce de Leon was
built a small hotel already existed in a corner of the lot. This hotel was moved to the Casa Monica site and was sold
to Franklin Smith. Today one piece of that hotel is the oldest hotel left in St. Augustine - The Sunnyside Hotel.
The Ponce de Leon Hotel (more pictures) (full views) (Rotunda)
In 1883 Henry Flagler attended the first Ponce de Leon Day. The Ponce de Leon festival was the town recreating
the history (real or imagined) of Florida. Flagler was impressed with the Spanish lore and the name and idea for the
new hotel would come from this experience. (The first Ponce de Leon Day)
This formal hotel opened in January of 1888. Because it was a winter hotel it was open only from January through
April. The closing time would vary depending on the amount of business to the hotel. The hotel attracted famous
people from all over the world in its early years, but as the Flagler system moved further south it became only a stop
instead of a destination. The Ponce de Leon Hotel is one of the most unique hotels in the world. Designed by
Carrere and Hastings (who also designed Memorial Presbyterian, Grace Methodist, the Alcazar and Kirkside). The
inside was completed by artisans including the architect Thomas Hastings, Tiffany, Maynard and Schladermundt.
Visitors to the Ponce de Leon Hotel include: Grover Francis Folsom Cleveland, Harriet Lane, Mrs. U. S. Grant,
Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, Levi Parsons Morton, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and
Lyndon Banes Johnson. Business leaders were also part of the hotel life including: General Horace Porter, John
Jacob Astor, John D. Rockefeller, George M. Pullman, and Henry Dexter. It had shops in Peacock Alley - where
people watched while the rich shopped including art studio, gift shop gown shop, newsstand, linen shop, and barber.
While guests had the use of the Alcazar Casino they also had two daily concerts , weekly dances , a library ,
smoking rooms, writing and billiard rooms , playrooms for children and a large men's only bar. Later distinguished
managers would include Clarence B. Knott and Robert Murray.
In 1887 a fire sweeps St. Augustine and destroys the Cathedral. The fire started in the paint room of C. F.
Hamblen's store. (Other accounts would say that it started in the laundry of the St. Augustine hotel. Destroyed in
the fire besides the Cathedral: the Edwards Hotel, the County court house, the First National Bank, Planter's house
and the Florida house annex, the Sinclair block, Chamberlin's store, Mr. Scott's residence and Wetter's hotel. Even
the fire department was burned out. The cathedral is rebuild with the help of the architect James Renwick who adds
a tower. The first marriage is held July 19, 1888 Mr. Emanuel Capo and Miss Lilian Monson.
St. Augustine in Flames (Fort Worth Daily Gazette, April 13, 1887)
St. Augustine Fla, April 12 -- The St. Augustine hotel took fire at 2:30 this morning and was destroyed. The old
slave market is also gone and the ancient cathedral is in flames. Edwards' hotel and half dozen small buildings are on
fire and it seems inevitable that the Florida house and the opera house must go. [Editor's Note: Doesn't happen to
either.] Danger of the destruction of the whole town from the plaza to the city gate is imminent. All of the seventy-six
guests at St. Augustine got out in safety, as did also all help of that house and the guests and servants of Edwards
Later -- The fire has been stopped at Treasury street, and the main portion of the town is safe. The county court
house and Vedder's museum were destroyed. All the county records were removed to a place of safety, but many
valuable papers in the hands of lawyers who had cases in the county buildings were destroyed. Telegraph wires to
all points are at present down, but the early re-establishment of communication is anticipated. There were no New
England people in the St. Augustine hotel, nor was there the slightest accident to any one of its seventy-six guests,
although it is reported that a colored scrub woman [Bridget Barry] lost her life by running back into the servants'
quarters for her effects. But little property here is insured as the buildings of the town are mainly of wood completely
built and the place is provided with only one third class stream fire engine. The average rate of insurance seems to
be 6 1/2 per cent., and this operated as a proscriptive tariff. The destruction of the wires at an early stage of the fire
prevented a call being made on Jacksonville for assistance. The loss on the St. Augustine hotel is $100,000. The
insurance expired within twenty-four hours before the fire.
Under Federal Shelter. (Fort Worth Daily Gazette, April 13, 1887)
Washington, April 12. --- The following telegram was received at the Treasury Department today from the
Collector of Customs at St. Augustine: "The principal part of the city is destroyed by fire. The county courthouse is
also burned. Can I offer assistance in the way of rooms in the post office building not occupied? It is impossible to
procure rooms outside of this building. The records are exposed."
Secretary Fairchild telegraphed as follows in reply: "Render every assistance to the city officials in the way of
providing rooms in the post office building."
Pell Horse Fountain
In 1887 the Pell Horse Fountain was added to the plaza.
St. Luke's Methodist Episcopal Church (1888)
St. Lukes was started and incorporated in 1888. The first pastor was Rev. Dudley McGuire from 1882-1892. The
building was built in 1905. The church is located on Evergreen Avenue. In 1938 the pastor was Rev. W. W. White
a graduate of the State Colored Normal and Industrial Agricultural and Mechanical College and Orangeburg South
The Alcazar opened in December of 1888. The Alcazar was designed to be a less formal hotel than the Ponce de
Leon and slightly cheaper. Originally it was the overflow hotel but finally its popularity was greater than the Ponce
de Leon. Besides the informality it contained the casino. Not a gambling casino but an entertainment center. The
courtyard of the Alcazar Hotel was used for businesses including Greenlief & Crosby, Jewelers. It had its own
band, informal dinning room, and grand parlor. Pool was 120' long and 50' wide and covered by a glass roof that
spanned 32 feet. The water from the artesian well drilled by Daniel Dull of New York to a 12 inch diameter
produced water at 7,000 gallons per minute and maintained a constant 86 degree temperature. The hotel would
advertise Russian and Turkish baths, electric baths, cold plunge, tropical gardens, bowling, tennis courts, caféÃ©,
concert rooms, music, and bicycling beyond the swimming of the casino. One could also have alcohol, salt, or
cologne rubs. There was a gym available with pulleys, weights, parallel and horizontal bars and punching bags. The
one guest that always preferred to stay there rather than the Ponce de Leon was Thomas Alvin Edison. One of the
most popular managers associated with the Alcazar was Joseph Pearson Greaves.
The Casa Monica
Flagler had some unexpected competition from his associate, Franklin Smith. (and was in competition with others
--- see Flagler Competition.) In arranging the land acquisition, Flagler gave Smith land and the Sunnyside Hotel,
which was moved across the street to the site of the Casa Monica Hotel. Flagler encouraged Smith to fix up the
Sunnyside, but Smith had much bigger plans - he moved the Sunnyside Hotel and built a 250-room hotel on its site.
The beautiful new building was concrete, with less coquina than the Ponce de Leon or the Alcazar. Deep river sand
was used, which made the color of the building more dense and uniform than the Ponce de Leon or Alcazar.
Advertising for the new hotel focused on its Spanish-Moorish structure, Artesian sulfur baths, French cuisine, and
Table hote. All of the suites in the Casa Monica were equipped with closets, gaslights, gas heat, and electric bells
to call for service. Baths were located on each floor. With its cottages, the hotel could accommodate four hundred
Smith had trouble completing the hotel; a plumbers' strike in January of 1888 sent all the plumbers back to New
York (The Florida Times Union, January 7, 1888), and a fire at the Nelson, Matter & Co. Factory in Michigan
delayed a shipment of furniture. The building opened on January 17, 1888, a week after the Ponce de Leon. The
opening was not a success. Smith was plagued by low occupancy and was unable to compete with the Ponce de
The hotel officially opened on January 30, and by March 28 Smith was cutting back expenses by closing off two
floors and laying off two or three dozen people. The hotel was sold in April to Henry Flagler for $250,000 On July
16 the name of the hotel was changed to the Hotel Cordova. In the coming years Flagler will keep the manager of
the Hotel E. N. Wilson. However, in the summer of 1889 with the assistance of O. D. Seavey the interior of the
hotel is renovated especially the kitchen area.
Opening and dedication of Grace Episcopal Methodist Church
The church was started in 1881 by George L Atkins and Sons hotel proprietors from Asbury Park NJ. They came
to St. Augustine and purchased the old Florida house. At that time, there was no Methodist Church serving white
people in town. The church was organized in the fall of 1881 in the Florida House Liberty Hall in the Governor's
house. The first pastor was Rev. Samuel D. Payne. For a while they met at the Black Methodist Church on St.
George Street in the mornings while the black church met in the afternoons.
The building of the original church, Olivet Methodist, was located on the present site of the Alcazar Hotel at the
corner of Tolomato and King.. In 1888 Flagler made an offer to build a new church and parsonage. On the
exchange of land from Flagler the offer was accepted and Carrere and Hastings designed the Spanish Renaissance
poured concrete building and McGuire and McDonald built it at a cost of $85,000.
The Terra Cotta work on the building includes flumes, griffins, and fish swimming in rippling water. Of course, the
two striking connections to the Ponce de Leon Hotel are the cherub on the pulpit and the chandelier that resembles
the old chandelier from the Ponce de Leon dining room.
On January 1, 1888 the first services were held in Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. The Pastor, Reverend
Charles C. McLean and his family occupied the parsonage the previous month. On December 29, 1886 the church
voted on the name Grace Episcopal Methodist Church. Dr. McLean and his family moved into the new parsonage
in December 1887. Bishop Mallalieu dedicated the church on January 15.
1904 J Henry Martin was the pastor. In 1940 the Pastor was Rev. T. C. O'Steen
McGuire and McDonald, Dr. Anderson, and Osborne Seavey
McGuire and McDonald were the builders of the Ponce De Leon, Alcazar, Grace Methodist Episcopal Church,
Memorial Presbyterian Church (picture), Kirkside (Henry Flagler's St. Augustine home) (remains), Seavey's house
(today the Union Generals House) (picture) and the Ingraham house among other buildings. Franklin Smith provided
the means of building the hotels (poured concrete), Dr. Andrew Anderson became the loyal friend that helped put
together the property, and Osborne Seavey was the manager who helped the architects design a working hotel.
Seavey also contributed by the selection of the hotel furnishings.
Seavey House (The Union Generals House)
The Seavey House is located at 20 Valencia Street. Henry Flagler had the house built by McGuire and McDonald
as the manager's house for the Ponce de Leon Hotel. The house has gray concrete veneer and red brick quoins
and window surrounds which are the stylistic motifs of the adjacent Ponce de Leon. The porch has round columns
and Victorian balusters, with dentils at the roof line.
After Seavey resigned the house was rented to various winter visitors. In 1899 the house was rented by General
John McAllister Schofield: Civil War Union general, military governor of Virginia, Secretary of War, and
superintendent of West Point. He died there in 1906.
From 1916 to 1923 the house was rented by General Martin D. Hardin, another veteran of the Union army. He
died in the house in 1923. His widow continued to occupy the house until her death in 1939. From the 1940s
through the early 1970s the house was owned by Mrs. Rose Pattie, who rented rooms. Flagler College bought the
house in the early 1970s. In the spring of 1987 Flagler College celebrated the conclusion of a year-long $500,000
restoration program for the house. The house serves as faculty offices today.
The hotel would cater to the rich and famous with fine dining and entertainment. Besides the bands that played in
the hotels, there was the Casino across the street and a large baseball diamond was built not far from the train
station designed to keep everyone entertained. The 3rd manager for the hotel was Robert Murray. He managed the
hotel for 35 years. Behind the Ponce de Leon was the Artist studio (picture). Artists came from across the country
to paint for the guests. Fort Marion was used as a golf course (this was through the St. Augustine Golf Club that
had Flagler people as members.)
One visitor to the Cordova Hotel was Archibald Clavering Gunter (1847-1907). He was the writer of Florida
Enchantment (later to become a St. Augustine movie) and a book about Susan Turnbull.
Dying in St. Augustine
When O. D. Seavey's mother-in-law died it was H. A. Wilson who handled the funeral details and shipped the body
back north. His home on St. George Street would be the departure point for many visitors and residents.
Flagler brought many technical innovations to St. Augustine including: electricity, bathrooms with running water
(actually the whole city was getting running fresh water), fresh water (he brought water from Moultrie Creek
watershed and treated it in his own plant 4 1/2 miles from the PDL), a sewage system, and asphalt roads. The
electricity (with a system designed by Thomas Edison) was in part generated from an artesian well that had a
generator placed over it. For as much attention that is paid to Thomas Edison more should be paid to one of his
employ William Hammer who spend the whole first year of the hotel opening in St. Augustine running the plant. For
the rest of the electricity they burnt 10 tons of hard coal every 24 hours. In 1886 this was the first building in the
State of Florida with electricity. (Electric light bulb being invented in 1879.)
St. Augustine Fire Department
See file for assorted documents about the St. Augustine Fire Department.
Henry Flagler buys the Casa Monica after the 1888 season. It's renamed the Cordova Hotel and Henry Flagler has
the street name changed from Tolomato (after the old cemetery) to Cordova. (The street on the other side of the
Alcazar is changed from Bronson [after Dr. Oliver Bronson] to Granada.) The hotel is never as successful as the
Ponce or the Alcazar especially as Flagler opens more hotels further south in Daytona, Palm Beach and Miami.
Later a covered bridge is built between the Alcazar and the Cordova and it officially becomes an annex to the
Ashlar Lodge Begins 1888
The Masons had a much older history than the beginning of this lodge in St. Augustine. The first Masonic lodge was
established on March 15, 1768 as was known as "Grant's East Florida Lodge." Governor Grant had petitioned
Henry Cunningham the Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter. This lodge was ended with the
return of the Spanish. The Ashlar lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Florida on January 1, 1888.
Return of Carrie Semple
March 21, 1889 - Miss Carrie Semple returned to St. Augustine. She was an early Freedmen's Bureau
schoolteacher. The newspaper commented on returning to a city transformed by the new hotels and growth. She
had taught in the Indian school at Carlisle Pa, (with Sarah Mather) and in Texas.
Dr. F. F. Smith and Dr. Anderson
On May 13, 1888 Dr. F. F. Smith and Dr Anderson sail for Europe. They visited various hospitals and famous
baths. On their return they'll occupy offices in the Alcazar close to the Casino and the baths. However before they
returned they made an important side trip to the island of Minorca where Dr. Anderson will hear the song of the
Minorcans and recognize it as they same song that he hears in St. Augustine - The Fromajadas.
Florida East Coast Railway (more information)
In 1883 The Rand-McNally Official Railway Guide and Handbook listed Jacksonville as serviced by the Savannah,
Florida & Western, Fernandina & Jacksonville, and Florida Central & Western (Henry Plant's railroad).
Jacksonville was then a leading winter resort with the St. James, St. Marks, Windsor, and Carlton Hotels. St.
Augustine's only railroad link was from the St. Johns River landing at Tocoi.
The St. Johns Railway was incorporated on December 31, 1858. During the Civil War the Union Army destroyed
what little was built of the railroad. The road was fifteen miles long and a three-foot narrow gauge railroad. It was a
horse car railway in 1877, and by 1881 Richard McLaughlin was President with William Astor and J. F. D. Lanier
The second railway was the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad. The first meeting was held on February
1, 1881 with Samuel B. Hubbart as President. By July 23, 1881 the first six miles were started. There were
takeover attempts for the under financed railroad, including one from former General Joshua Chamberlain of Maine
(one of the United States heroes at Gettysburg). The last spike was put into place on May 19, 1883. It was a
narrow gauge railroad that opened for business on June 28, 1883. W. Jerome Green was the President with W. L.
Crawford as the treasurer and general manager; G. D. Ackerly was the general passenger agent. By October 29,
1883 there were seven stations between St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
Henry Flagler became a director on December 9, 1885 and President on January 1, 1886. An agreement was
reached to construct a bridge over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville and allow the usage of the Jacksonville
terminal and depot for 99 years.
Henry Flagler purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad on December 31, 1885. In
1887 he acquired the St. Johns and Halifax River road. By 1888 Flagler built a branch to San Mateo for the orange
shippers and was in the process of converting 37 miles of railroad from narrow to standard gauge using steel rails.
However, the St. Augustine Daily News in a February 1, 1889 article states that the schooners Charlotte Sibley
and Fannie A. Gorham were unloading the long looked for cargoes of iron needed to complete the laying of the
standard gauge track from Jacksonville to St. Augustine. After improvements, the trip was expected to take one
hour. In 1892 the road operated to New Smyrna, and by February 1893, the road was completed to Rockledge on
the Indian River. In 1892, the railway was re-named the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River Railway. For the
winter of 1892-93 the connections were at Jacksonville, Palatka , and Rockledge. At Rockledge, passengers
could transfer to a steamer for Indian River and Lake Worth (future Palm Beach). In 1893 the road started toward
Palm Beach, by 1894 a steamer took passengers to Jupiter, and by 1896 the road extended to Miami.
On September 7, 1895 the name was changed to the Florida East Coast Railway. The general offices were located
in St. Augustine in the Union Station. The roundhouse, car sheds and repair shops were also located in St.
Augustine. When the Union station was completed the old station on Orange Street faded into history. Flagler
upgraded the lines to standard track and continued the line to Key West. He built cities and grand hotels along the
way. He also operated steam ships with took passengers to his hotels in the Bahamas and also to Cuba and
Panama. St. Augustine was the machine shops area for the railroad. He also built the Union Station for the city.
While the Union Station at first linked many railroads, in the end he owned all of them. He also built a small park by
the station to welcome visitors. The small park is all that is left today (picture). The site is now the location of the St.
Augustine Fire Station on Route 1.
April 16, 1888 marks the beginning of telephone communication between St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
Havana & St. Augustine Cigar
In 1889 B. Genovar, FB Genovar and Dr. Morena created the first cigar company in St. Augustine. The company
was called Havana & St. Augustine Cigar Manufacturing Company. It would employ 50 people.
In 1889 Joe Perry makes his entrance into St. Johns County as the new deputy sheriff of the newly elected sheriff
Harry Floyd. He was immediately nicknamed "Long Joe Perry" for his size. He was 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighing
in at 213 pounds. His reputation was that when he goes for a man he is bound to bring him back dead or alive.
(Deputy Sheriff Perry and Steve Gormax) (Deputy Sheriff Perry becomes Sheriff) (Sheriff Perry and Robbers)
(Sheriff Perry and Sam English) (Deputy Si Davis) (Si Davis arrest) (John Ash and Henry Fern) (Sheriff Perry and
mentally disturbed prisoners) (Sheriff Perry 1895 misc.) (Si Davis became sheriff from 1897-1901) (Joe Perry was
sheriff from 1889-97, 1901-1919)
ex president Grover Cleveland returns to the Ponce de Leon
March 20, 1889 the ex president arrived at St. Augustine as guests of Henry Flagler. They were met at the Union
Station by 500 people, Mr. and Mrs. Flagler and the Ponce de Leon band. The President again stayed in the pink
bridal chamber. The President toured the baths at the Casino, a two hour drive over the city, an informal reception
at the hotel and a fireworks display.
The Ex-Presidents Outing. (Evening World, March 21, 1889)
Brass Bands and fireworks in his honor at St. Augustine.
Ex-President Cleveland and party arrived here (Jacksonville) at 7 o'clock this morning. Mr. Bayard and the
Ex-president were the only two up and dressed when the car was backed down on the Savannah Florida and
Western pier. It was too early in the morning for a demonstration, and very few people were stirring. Col. J. E.
Hart, President of the Board of Trade, and F. W. Hawthorne, of the Times-Union, called at the car and were
received by Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Bayard. They invited the party to pay Jacksonville a visit on their return from
Cuba and the invitations will undoubtedly be accepted. Mr. Cleveland is very anxious to try his hand at tarpon
fishing and inquired all about Charlotte Harbor, the famous fishing grounds on the lower gulf coast.
The party breakfasted in the car, and subsequently crossed the ferry to South Jacksonville, and proceeded in a
private car to St. Augustine accompanied by Capt. Davidson, agent of the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway,
and Mr. Alfred Bishop Mason Vice-President Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad. The party was met at
the Union Station at St. Augustine by over five hundred people, the Ponce de Leon Band and a long line of
carriages. Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Flagler awaited the party and escorted them to the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Mr.
Cleveland was assigned the pink bridal chamber, the same room occupied by him last year.
At 11 o'clock the whole party was taken to inspect the baths at the Alcazar. This afternoon a drive of two hours
was taken over the city. Tonight there was an informal reception at the hotel and a big pyrotechnic display with
electric effects. The party will proceed to Tampa tomorrow at noon, thence by ship to Cuba direct.
Frederick Douglass (photo) (Genovar's Opera House)
Also in 1889 St. Augustine gets another important visitor: Frederick Douglass. Mr. Douglass had just given a
speech in Jacksonville when he was talked into coming to St. Augustine. His reception and speech were held in
Genovar's Opera house with 700 people in attendance. Mayor Dewhurst introduced Douglass. James Weldon
Johnson describes Douglass' visit to Jacksonville. "No one could ever forget a first sight of Frederick Douglass. A
tall, straight, magnificent man with a lion-like head covered with a glistening white mane, who instantly called forth in
one form or another Napoleon's exclamation when he first saw Goethe, 'Behold a man!' As I watched and listened
to him, agitator, editor, organizer, counselor, eloquent advocate, co-worker with the great abolitionists, friend and
adviser of Lincoln, for a half century the unafraid champion of freedom and equality for his race. I was filled with a
feeling of worshipful awe. Douglass spoke, and moved a large audience of white and colored people by his supreme
eloquence.....Douglass was speaking in the far South, but he spoke without fear or reservation."
Memorial Presbyterian Church Built (see also the almost rebuilding of Trinity Episcopal)
Henry Flagler offered to build a new church for the Presbyterians. This had been an original piece of the Flagler
vision as The Florida Times Union reported on the opening of the Ponce de Leon Hotel that Flagler was going to
use the old Dragoon lot for a new Presbyterian Church, it would be built of concrete in the renaissance style of
architecture. By December of 1888 Carrere and Hastings completed the building plans.
Henry Flagler's daughter, Jennie Louise Benedict, had a baby girl on February 9, 1889. The baby, named Margery,
died when she was only a few hours old. Doctors in New York thought that Jennie Louise would recover sooner
in Florida so the Benedict family yacht Oneida (this would be the same yacht where President Cleveland would
receive his secret operation on cancer) was enlisted for the voyage. Henry Flagler was to meet the yacht in
Charleston. Jennie Louise died on March 25 in sight of Fort Sumter as her father waited at the docks. Harry Flagler
and Benedict were on board with her. Jennie Louise's body was taken back to New York and buried beside her
The new church building was built on the corner of Valencia and Sevilla streets. The Venetian Renaissance poured
concrete church was designed by Carrere and Hastings and built by McGuire and McDonald. The groundbreaking
for Memorial Presbyterian was April 24, 1889. Present at the ground breaking was Henry Flagler, Ida Alice
Flagler, Harry Flagler, Miss Benedict and Mr. Mitchell.
Flagler made it a race against time to get the building completed in less than a year for the dedication service. A
bonus was offered the workers if the building could be completed in that time. McGuire and McDonald pushed their
employees and by August the walls were almost completed and the roof was being put into place. At that point,
McGuire and McDonald asked for a half-day off on a Saturday for a picnic. The employees and their families were
entertained on Anastasia Island.
The service dedicating the new church to the memory of Jennie Louise Flagler Benedict took place on March 16,
1890. Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, wife of the President of the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Levi Morton, the Vice
President and his family were among the congregation. Harry Flagler and Frederick H. Benedict were also present.
On April 4, 1890 the building was conveyed from Henry M. Flagler and Ida Alice Flagler to the trustees of the
Presbyterian Church. The wording of the conveyance stated: "shall be a temple devoted to the worship of God and
the teaching of that saving faith in which she lived and died...erected in the City of St. Augustine Florida a church
edifice in loving commemoration of her spotless life, her virtues and her Christian devotion."
Flagler donated the stained-glass windows in his daughter's memory in 1902, each a part of the Apostle's Creed.
Two of the artifacts of the church also are for Jennie Louise her husband, Frederick H. Benedict, donated the great
baptismal font, and the lectern bible was the gift of Dr. George G. Shelton, the New York physician who traveled
with her on the Oneida.
The sounding board over the pulpit is shaped like a huge shell. This links the church to the Ponce de Leon Hotel
with the shells scattered throughout the building.
The Alicia Hospital
On April 7, 1888 before the idea of an Alicia Hospital was thought of the children of the St. Augustine Loyal
Temperance held a fair at Union chapel on Grenada Street for a hospital in St. Augustine.
The Alicia Hospital, formerly Dr. Sloggett's home, was located on Marine Street. In 1889, Dr. Andrew Anderson
was elected president of the board of trustees. The hospital began operations in the winter of 1890 after Henry
Flagler deeded the concrete structure and grounds to the board of trustees. When it opened , Alicia was the only
public hospital in the area from Jacksonville to Daytona. The hospital had a trained nurse - Miss Aurora Smith from
Bellevue Hospital in New York. Dr. Anderson, Dr. DeWitt Webb, Dr. Smith and Dr. Shine were the original
medical staff. They served 3 months of donated service each.
The main building consisted of a central hall with reception room, physician's office and private room on one side.
On the other side of the central hall were the superintendent's room and room for private patients. The 2nd story
was the white women's ward with 8 beds and 4 private rooms. In the pavilion were the white men's ward, music
room kitchen and pantry. In the second pavilion the African-American men's and women's ward, 2 nurses rooms
and laundry. There were bathrooms for each ward. Indigents were accepted for free, others paid on a sliding scale.
By 1892 the hotel employees were contributing part of their salary as an insurance plan. For the Ponce de Leon
Hotel alone this amounted to over $700.
The Hospital Association placed its money in Standard Oil stock to be held in trust for the hospital. From 1888 to
1896 they raised about $30,000. With the interest and dividends from the stock, they had contributed around
$50,000 by 1896. Much of the money raised paid for the treatment of patients who were unable to afford hospital
Continue to St. Augustine in the Flagler Era 1890 to 1900
|Panoramic view of the Ponce de Leon, Casa Monica and Alcazar Source: Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-110212]
|See Sanburn Fire Maps for a street
by street, building by building detail.
1888 St. Augustine
1893 St. Augustine
1899 St. Augustine
|Henry Morrison Flagler
Florida Memory Project
|Library of Congress 1888
|Grace United Methodist
Library of Congress 1930s
|Cordova Court Yard
|Hotel Ponce de Leon Menu
|Interior Memorial Presbyterian 1930s
Library of Congress
|Villa Zorayda 1890s Florida Heritage
|San Marco Hotel
Photographer: Gil Wilson
|Ponce de Leon Hotel
Photographer: Gil Wilson
Photographer: Gil Wilson
|Alcazar Casino Swimming Pool
|Casa Monica, later the Cordova, later the Casa Monica
|Casa Monica and Alcazar Hotels
Photographer: Gil Wilson
|Seavey or Two Union General House
Photographer: Gil Wilson
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|St. Augustine of Hippo