Return to Dr. Bronsons St. Augustine History
Page

Return to Flagler's Hotel Competition
San Marco Hotel
St. Augustine Florida
Picture from the State of Florida Archives - The San Marco Hotel was opened in 1885 by Isaac W.
Crufts. The hotel was built by
McGuire and McDonald and staffed by Osborn Seavey. This hotel
changed the concept of hotels in St. Augustine to resort hotels.  It had famous bands and extensive
grounds and probably the best view in St. Augustine.

Isaac Cruft Brings a Quality Hotel Experience to St. Augustine at the San Marco Hotel
Isaac Smith Crufts could be viewed as one of the first and very underrated developers of Florida. The
San Marco Hotel, 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 S. Crufts of Boston built the San Marco.  Mr. Cruft was born in Boston on November 24,
1824, and for many years was engaged in mercantile pursuits, giving up active business, mainly about
1865. His office was located at the wharf in Boston Harbor. Originally a ship builder, Mr. Crufts was
an established hotel owner when he built the San Marco. He married Mary Power Nichols. In 1876
his first hotel was the Maplewood in the White Mountains of New York. Maplewood had its own
railroad station, post office, cottages, a casino, and large spacious outdoor grounds. It was visited by
Presidents Grant and Roosevelt. In March 1882, he built the Magnolia Hotel on the St. Johns River
near Green Cove Springs. It was 28 miles south of Jacksonville and could be reached either by boats
or trains.

It could be said that Crufts was the "first" person to transform St. Augustine from a backwater town.
Four stories high, 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.

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.

Isaac Crufts dies December 27, 1889. The Hotel does not open for the 1890 season but reopens for
the 1891 season.   His nephew, General George T. Cruft, who took over after the death of Isaac
Crufts, came to Bethlehem in 1873, and has made the town his home since. He was born at Lexington
in 1844.  General Cruft is a strong Republican and first voted here in 1876.  In 1878 he was
appointed State quartermaster- general, under Governor Natt Head, ranking as brigadier-general. He
is postmaster at Maplewood, is a justice of the peace, notary public, etc.

The San Marco Opening 1892 (Tatler)
The San Marco will open on the 18th inst. (January, 1892) Extensive preparations are going on.
Messrs. Ainslie and Webster will arrive today, and although the time is very short, there need be no
double about the house being in order on that date. Mr. Webster comes to the San Marco for the first
time, but when General Crufts, with his splendid business ability, says, "I selected Mr. Webster to
succeed Mr. McGilvray, thinking he would be satisfactory, and I am more than satisfied with the
results, "the patrons of that delightful winter home are sure to be.

* * *
The San Marco managers have arrived and are pushing matters with astonishing rapidity. Mr. Webster
is a stranger to this house, although well known at Maplewood, and should he become as much of a
favorite as Mr. Ansilie has been, the house will fully boom this winter. Mr. Webster is a newspaper
man, and will know how to please his guests. He brings with him Mrs. Webster and two daughters,
young ladies who will, if there is any truth in all said on the subject, proved great attractions to the
house. Mr. Ansilie is too well known as an excellent business man and first rate hotel man, to need
speaking of here, except to echo the wonder that a man who has such excellent judgment on every
other subject should fail to provide himself with a wife, no doubt this is due to shyness and the girls
should see to it that Leap Year sees him provided with one.

The San Marco Opening 1895 (Tatler)
"This large, excellently arranged hotel stands on the highest ground in St. Augustine, with a magnificent
view of the bay, ocean and surrounding country, with Fort Marion at its feet. It is four stories high,
with corridors extending through the building its entire length, with guests rooms on either side, all with
fine views from the windows; three flights of stairs lead from the first or office floor to the upper ones,
with a large elevator. The hotel is approached by a long flight of stairs, the office, parlors, reading and
writing-rooms occupying most of the first floor. A beautiful little theatre is attached to the hotel, where
dances and entertainments are of constant occurrence during the season.

The dining-hall lies west of the main hotel, is a large, lofty room with windows on three sides, and
great chambers above. Messrs. Blanchard and Hager, the present lessees and proprietors, are
practical hotel managers, bring energy, knowledge and experience to the work. Last year, their first
season, was remarkably successful. In addition to the regular inhabitants of the hotel, many of their
summer guests at the Pequod House, New London, enjoyed the charming life of the San Marco, while
the managers made friends of the young people, both home folks and strangers, by the ir liberal
entertaining.

This season the San Marco opens on the 16th of January, 1895. The celebrated Imperial Austrian
Band will entertain the guests with music during the season."

* * *

"This large handsomely appointed hotel opened its doors to the public on the sixteenth  (January,
1895), with a number of guests already assembled. The entire establishment is in perfect order. The
large public rooms bright and cheery, with courteous servants about to anticipate the every want of the
guests. Messrs. Blanchard and Hagar return to the Hotel San Marco for their second season, after
one of unparalleled success at the Pequot House, New London, Conn., one of the most popular
summer resorts in the country, many of their guests there coming to them here. They anticipate an
unusually good season, having booked many more engagements for rooms than last year.

Mr. Blanchard and Hagar have selected the following staff to assist them in securing the comfort of
their guests. Mr. Blanchard will preside over the register, assisted by Mr. Charles Granger, who will
fill the position of cashier. Mr. James Homill, Jr., day clerk; Mr. Frank Burgess, night clerk.

Mr. Louis Leto is chef, Charles Schroeder, baker; Mr. B. Carter, head waiter. Mr. Nicholas Bates,
head bell, and Frank Reinhardt head porter. Mr. Hager will superintend the domestic department, an
assurance that the high standard established last season will be maintained this.

The music provided for the entertainment of the guests of the San Marco is the Imperial Austrian band
of twelve players, all fine musicians of a high order, Professor Somers, the leader, being among the
celebrated directors of New York. Two daily concerts will be given and two weekly dances. The
Thursday evening dance of last season will be continued, and the second one will probably be given
Monday evening. Messrs. Blanchard & Hager extend cordial invitations to guests of other hotels and
citizens to attend the daily concerts. The San Marco is delightfully located on the highest ground in the
city, with a magnificent view of the bay and ocean. The grounds about it are extensive, and filled with
handsome plants and flowers."

The San Marco Dance.
The San Marco doors have stood hospitably open since the sixteenth, guests coming and enjoying the
hospitality for which this house is celebrated. On Thursday evening las the house was bright and gay,
when the first dance of the season was given in the pretty theatre of the house, the scene of so many
brilliant gatherings in former years.

The Imperial Austrian band of twelve pieces, stationed on the state, commenced playing promptly at
nine o'clock, when a number of guests assembled in the hall, greatly augmented by townspeople.

Among the guests who came were Mr. and Mrs. Stevens of Nonotuck, Ct., a bridal couple. Mrs.
Stevens wore a very handsome gown of heliotrope silk with white fichu, a blue velvet czarina collar,
very becoming to her girlish beauty; the Misses Paul, of Philadelphia, who are guests of the house with
their brother, Dr. Paul, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Lagon, Mr. and Mrs. McKein, Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, Mr.
and Mrs. Dewhurst and Mr. and Mrs. Glading, all of New York, were the guests present not dancing.

Mrs. Allen, Miss Allen and Miss Hill, Mrs. Joyce with her two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. And Miss
Bently brought a party of friends and sat out the dance.

Colonel and Mrs. Bainbridge, with a party of officers and their families came up from St. Francis
barracks; Mrs. Bainbridge, Mrs. O'Hara, Mrs. Platt, Mrs. Hobbs chaperoning their attractive young
daughters, were in handsome dark gowns.

Judge and Mrs. Charles Swayne brought their son and daughter, Mrs. Swayne wearing a handsome
black silk and jetted lace gown.

Miss Swayne wore a beautiful pink gown. Miss Bainbridge wore a very chic gown of delicate color.
Miss OHara wore a blue "collet" gown, with black velvet. Miss Pratt wore a soft, white gown, with
blue. Miss Hobbs wore a beautiful gown of pink décolleté. Colonel Bainbridge and Captain O'Hara
were in uniform, Lieutenant O'Hern wearing evening dress.

Mrs. Hawley, who is a guest of the
Valencia, chaperoned her daughter, Miss Hawley, who wore an
exquisite white brocade, with lace and passementric garniture; and Miss Shaw, whose gown was of
pink striped crepe, low bodice, with chiffon.

Miss Laura Smethurst wore a becoming gown of pink crepon. Mrs. Wilde of the
Magnolia wore a
beautiful dress of pink, black velvet and lace. Miss Joyce wore a dainty organdie over blue.

The younger set were represented at this pleasant party by Miss Gaillard, who wore a quaint "collet"  
gown. Miss Florence Joyce in a pretty street dress, Lelia Kerr wearing white and Miss Bessie Stead,
with Myron Spader, Percy Swayne, Dunhorn and James Cosetter and Charles Cosetter and James
Cosetter and Charles Kettle. How happy the pretty girls were, beaux enough to go round and one to
spare, not a dance set out.

Miss Burton, who is a guest of the
Cordova, a stately blond beauty, wearing a beautiful pink gown,
was escorted by Mr. Bonner, a guest of the Magnolia, Miss Munroe coming with Dr. Doctor Kernon
and Miss Carpenter, both attractive young women, stylishly gowned, are in the city from Calumet,
Mich.

Among the young men present were Messrs. King, MacGonigie, Foster, Dearing,
Dismukes and
others of the city; Mr. Charles N. Bowen, of Providence; Mr. R. W. Wetzel, of Calumet, Mich., and
Mr. William Hays Ackton, of Washington, D. C
.

The End
The San Marco Hotel burned to the ground on November 7, 1897  and was not rebuilt.  The New
York Times
reported that the fire was set to the building and that even the suction pipes on the well
was cut. At the time the hotel was owned by William Beale from Boston and leased to McDowell and
Palmer who were planning on opening in December. The furniture on the main floor was saved. The
loss was $250,000 with only $50,000 insurance. The citizens of St. Augustine offered a $500 reward
for the capture of the arsonists.
New York Paper Ad
San Marco Hotel 1892
Brooklyn Public Library

Note the "natural ground" as opposed to the
Ponce de Leon being built on a swampy area
New York Paper Ad
San Marco Hotel 1896
Brooklyn Public Library
New York Paper Ad
San Marco Hotel 1896
Brooklyn Public Library
New York Paper Ad
San Marco Hotel 1891
Brooklyn Public Library
City gate
Related Names:
Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher
Date Created/Published: [between 1895 and 1910]
Custom Search
Like us on
Facebook