Minutes of the Meeting of the National Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of St. Augustine, Florida
Washington, D. C., Monday, October 26, 1936
The first meeting of the National Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of st. Augustine, Florida, called by
Mayor Walter B. Fraser of St. Augustine pursuant to a resolution of the City Commission of St. Augustine, authorizing
him to invite a national committee to consider plans to preserve and restore the old part of the city, was held in the
Cosmos Club, Washington, D. C., Monday, October 26, 1930, at 10 a.m. There were present:
Dr. J. C. Morriam, President of the Carnegie Institution.
Dr. A. V. Kidder, Chairman of the Division of Historical Research of the Carnegie Institution.
Senator Scott M. Loftin, of Florida
Dr. John J. Tigert, President of the University of Florida.
Mayor Walter B. Fraser, of St. Augustine, Florida.
David R. Dunham, President of the St. Augustine Historical Society and Institute of Science.
Branch Spalding, Acting Director of the Division of Historic Sites and Buildings, National Park Service, Department of the
Verne Chatelain, former Acting Assistant Director of National Park Service.
Olinus Smith, department of engineering of the eastern division of the National Park Service.
Wilbur C. Hall, Chairman of the State Commission on Conservation and Development, State of Virginia.
R. J. Rokenrode, director of history and archaeology of the State Commission of Conservation and Development, State
Dr. Carita Doggett Corce, director of the WPA Writer's Project for Florida.
Leonard Outhwaite, archaeologist, explorer and author.
John E. Pickering, publisher, St. Augustine, Florida.
Unable to attend the meeting were:
Bishop Patrick Barry, of St. Augustine, Florida.
Senator Harry P. Byrd, of Virginia.
Nina Hawkins, editor of the St. Augustine Record.
Herbert E. Bolton, head of the department of history of the University of California.
Joshua C. Chase, President of the Florida Historical Society.
Mayor Fraser outlined to the members the motive of the City Commission in directing him to call upon a national
committee to preserve and restore St. Augustine.
Dr. Merriam was named temporary chairman of the committee agreeing to serve at least until the committee had its next
After a lengthy discussion of the questions and problems involved together with the purpose and value to the nation and
to history, the committee adopted the following resolution:
Recognizing the importance to future generations of the history and culture of the early Spanish settlement on this
continent and what is now the United States, and the fact that St. Augustine was the first permanent settlement in the
United States, the committee believes that the historic settings in St. Augustine should be faithfully preserved and that it
should explore every avenue and possibility to the end of preserving, and consideration of such restoring and
reconstructing as may be found advisable such sections of the old part of the city as were once within its fortifications to
the extent which documentary evidence and other reliable date and research will permit.
The committee then by unanimous vote authorized Dr. Merriam to appoint the following committees:
A committee on research to furnish the committee a comprehensive map of St. Augustine as settled by the Spanish and
location of its structures together with the development of the old city through its various periods to the present and all
documentary data, legendary and factual, bearing on the settlement of the city by the Spanish and subsequent
occupations and development relating to architecture, customs and means by which early settlers utilized local material
to replant old world civilization to the new; also that said committee be instructed to begin excavation work immediately to
unearth and bring to light such evidence as will enable the committee to piece together the culture, customs and
development of the settlement; all of the information gathered to determine to what extent reconstruction and restoration
should be carried out.
A committee to study what material should be preserved, restored or reconstructed, bearing in mind the historic
necessity of providing a picture of the evolution of development through the periods from settlement to the present; that
should be modified or maintained.
The committee then voted to hold its next meeting in St. Augustine not later than six months from this date, the time of
the next meeting being left to the discretion of the temporary chairman, whose decision is to be guided by the progress
of work made by the two committees named to provide the committee with data upon which to proceed.
The adoption of the resolution and the appointment of committees followed a discussion in which Dr. Merriam laid down
the following immediate objectives which it was the consensus of the committee should guide it in its preliminary work:
1. The desirability of compiling a comprehensive map and data relative to old St. Augustine.
2. Determination by research of what of old settlement was original and what remains either for preservation or
3. 3. Maps of the surrounding territory and region including air maps to show the changes in environment since the first
settlement to the present.
4. Data on the original status of plant and animal life to show what changes have taken place.
5. To obtain all records or copies of documents bearing on the settlement of and development of the old city.
Dr. Merriam, at the opening of the meeting, developed the objectives and the possible scope of the work. He said:
On my first visit to St. Augustine I was greatly impressed with the city's points of historic interest. It impressed me as one
of the most important, if not the most important opportunity for historic development offered in the United States.
It is not only the Spanish settlement but the subsequent historic developments which are important. We of this committee
should do this job in the best possible way, which will take some time, and we should secure the best talent to do it.
The preservation of St. Augustine is of importance to city, state and nation, and the cooperation of the federal
government is of importance.
Mrs. Corse suggested that the 20,000 workers engaged in the WPA Writer's project might be directed to and enlisted for
research work throughout the nation relative to old St. Augustine.
Dr. Kidder emphasized that every effort should be made to picture the development so that all phases of the city's
history could be traced.
Dr. Merriam concurred with Dr. Kidder's view, declaring that the value of perspective back through the years was of the
utmost importance to any historic record. "What we want to see," he said, "is the element of progress."
Mr. Outhwaite suggested and the committee concurred that it was important to have "sufficient accumulated evidence of
old structures, otherwise those viewing any single historic monuments would not get the feel of it or have the tangible
touch of standing amidst something old and historic.
Mayor Fraser expressed the view that the old as much as possible should be developed within the area of the old city
and that the new should be kept outside that area. "Many old buildings can easily be restored and show a picture of how
the Spanish and their descendants lived."
Mr. Outhwaite reminded the committee that St. Augustine represented the northernmost outpost of an old world culture
that had been brought to and established in the new world. He pointed out that the streets of St. Augustine and the fort
now standing and the redoubts of other days were the same as still exist in the other sections of this continent settled by
Mayor Fraser pointed out that many residents of St. Augustine are of Spanish descent and their homes and customs still
bear traces of the Spanish influence.
In connection with financing the project, Dr. Merriam pointed out that no agency in the United States would offer financial
aid unless a clear and comprehensive plan is submitted.
In this connection it was the consensus of the committee that some initiative must come from St. Augustine, as well as a
detailed and agreed upon plan to bring about financial aid needed.
Dr. Kidder approved of the suggested move that excavation work be started at once to gather all material that would
contribute to the work.
The question of selection of a permanent chairman, and secretary was left in the hands of Dr. Merriam and Dr. Tigert,
who are instructed to nominate a permanent chairman for consideration of the committee at its next meeting.
There being no further business the committee adjourned subject to the call of the temporary chairman.
|Minutes of the National Restoration Committee
Washington, D. C.
October 26, 1936
|Mayor Walter B. Fraser
St. Augustine Florida
70+ years later and St. Augustine is still expanding his
|Carita Doggett Corse
Author of Dr. Andrew Turnbull and the New Smyrna Colony
(1919) and the Key to the Golden Islands (1931).
|Dr. J. C. Merriam
Head of the Carnegie Institute and Noted Paleontologist
Author of The defenses of Spanish Florida, 1565 to 1763 (1941)
|U. S. Senator Scott Marion Loftin
(1878 - 1953)