|St. Photios Shrine
39 St. George St. St. Augustine
HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY HABS No, FIA-134:
FLA HOUSE (also known as the "Minorcan Chapel")
39 St. George Street, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida,(The street number has been used as a title on the
sheets of measured drawings (1961) for this building since the name[s] of the first owner[s] ar'e not known. Antonio de
Avero inherited the property from her grandparents in 1764; however? it has not even been indicated that the family
name of these grandparents was De Avero. It is a moot point, also, as to how much of the present structure can with
assurance be dated back to the period of De Avero ownership. Locally the structure has also been called the "Salazar
House" or "Governor's Mansion"; there seems to be no historic basis for these names.)
Present Owner: Colonial St. Augustine, Ine. (private corporation).
Statement of This structure at 34 S*. George Street in its original early 18th century form has been identified with
the De Avero family—a family prominent in St. Augustine during the First Spanish Period. It is also known locally as the
"Minorcan Chapel" since it is thought that the Minorcan Colony used it for worship during the British Occupation of St.
PART I. HISTORICAL INFORMATION
A. Physical History
1. General: In a recent research paper (Charles W. Arnade, "The Avero Story: An Early St. Augustine Family With Many
Daughters and Many Houses," Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXXX, No. 1, July 1961) it has been shown that this
house was Antonio de Avero's "large house" which she inherited from her grandparents and stated was existing in
1712. The building appears on the Juan Elixio de la Puente Map of 1764 as Block E, number 81. There is a local
tradition that the building served as a chapel for the Minorcan colony during the English period in the late 18th century
and this is somewhat confirmed by a 1784 description (escrituras, July 1784-February 1787) of the property immediately
to the south (De Mesa-Sanchez House, 43 St. George Street; see HABS records made in 1961) as being bounded on
the north by "the church of the Minorcans." On the 1788 map of Mariano de la Rocque the building appears as number
5, Block Z and "in charge of" Antonio Fernandez, who was evidently acting for the De Avero heirs. This 1788 structure
is much larger than the present building.
The building has evidently undergone many changes in 1939 it was completely "restored" in an unconvincing
Continental Spanish style; the main walls, however, and possibly the arches in the rear are those of the building as it
existed in 1939. The full extent of the original house can only be known by below-ground archeological excavation.
This building was recorded at the special request of the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation
2. Original and subsequent owners:
1712 Grandparents of Antonio de Avero
1764 Antonio de Avero (Charles Arnade? op. cit.)
1734 Minorcan Chapel (?) (Sscrituras O'uly 1784-February 1787)
1788 In charge of Antonio Fernandez (Mariano de laRoequeMap. Copy in library of St. Augustine Historical Society)
Between 1788-1815 Manuel Castillo
1815 Josefa Montes de Oca
1816 Isabel Rodrigues
Between 1816-37 Bibiano Romero (daughter of Isabel Rodriques)
1837 Joan Carreras (St. Johns County Records Deed Book "M", p. 454)
1867 Stephen Carreras (St. Johns County Records Deed Book "R", p. 857)
1867 to 1940
1939 Colonial St. Augustinef Inc.
Note: The above chain of ownership is largely based on a report made in 1938 for the St. Augustine Historical
Society by Mrs. Albert Johnson (MS in Society's library)
3. Date of erection: Originally before 1712 (cf. General note above)
4. Architect and builder: Unknown.
5. Original plans, etc.: None known; unlikely of recovery.
6. Notes on alterations and additions: House was originally much larger, but exact extent unknown (cf. de la Rocqtte
Man). Completely "restored" by present owner.
7. Important old views: Old photo of N. St. George Street (date unknown) showing St. George Street front before
"restoration." "View in library of the St, Augustine Historical Society,
S. Sources of information:
Charles V/. Arnade, "The Avero Story: An Early St. Augustine Family With Many Daughters and Many Houses,"
Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXXX> No. 1, July; 1961.
Report on Antonio Avero'a House for St. Augustine Historical Society by Mrs. Albert Johnson (MS in St. Augustine
Historical Society Library).
Analysis of Avero Complex by Dr. John R, Dunkle, "Report for St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation
Juan Elixio de la Puente Map (photostat copy) in library of the St. Augustine Historical Society). Mariano de la Ro-cque
Map (photostat copy) in library of the St. Augustine Historical Society).
B, Supplemental Material: The following historical account on pp". 1-15 ' • of the October, 1963 (No. 49) issue of the St.
Augustine Historical Society El Escribano has been transcribed in toto:
The Site of the Minorcan Chapel
39 St. George Street
West 100 feet of Lot 5, Block 7
St. Augustine, Florida
Present Chvner: Colonial St. Augustine. Inc.
1764 Juan Jose* Sligio de la Puente map shows house owned by Antonia de Avero.
1765 Moncrief Map - -shows house owned by "Mr, Kipp". No documents have been found to support this claim.
1777- Sometime during this period it became "a private oratory for 1784 the Catholic Minorcans",
1784 Antonio Fernandez claimed it for Antonio de Avero!
1788 Mariano de la Rocque map shows house in the custody of Antonio Fernandez.
1788 Antonia de Avero !
1790 Governor Quesada's appraisal shows the house and lot as owned by the King and occupied by Eugenia de Hita y
1791 April 8. Houses and lots of the King sold at public auction.
This house purchased by Romauldo Micklaszuveich. 1791 Tadeo de Arribas is empowered to claim the house.
1793 Eugenia de Hita y Salazar vacates the house because she had purchased another from Pedro de Gala to live In,
1794 Don GInes de Oliba desires to purchase but not satisfied with sale price; asks for new appraisal and auction.
1795 Yietoriana Guillen asks for review of claim.
1798 April 18. Eugenia de Hita y Salasar dies.
1802 Manuel de Castilla, grandson-ln lav/ of Antonia de Avero is empowered to claim.
1802 June 2. House is released to Castilla for heirs of Antonia de Avero.
1804 Manuel de Castilla sells to Bias Crespo "the lot and walls"
1815 Castilla and the heirs of Antonia de Avero re-acquire this site.
1815 Castilla sells a "coquina house" to Josefa Montes de Oca with 37 varas in addition to the 15 varas he had acquired
from the Government. Claims the extra 37 varas had been bought from Francisco Ruiz del Canto sometime between
1802 and 1815.
1816 Josefa Montes de Oca sells to Isabel Rodriguez de Romero.
1837 Romero heirs sell to Juan Carreras.
1869 Carrera heirs sell to Mary Carreras and William J. Reyes ? her husband.
1897 William J. Reyes sells to John Andreu.
1902 John Andreu and wife sell to Edward M. Goodrich
1910 Edward M. Goodrigh sells to David Gerstel.
1938 David Gerstel*s mortgage to Charles Cohen is foreclosed,
1946 Charles Cohen, Gertrude and Max Baer sell to Walter B. Frazer.
1952 Walter B. Frazer and wife sell to Colonial St. Augustine, Inc. The following Is the bilingual text of anonymous
authorship which appears on the north facade of the present building:
Palacio del Governador y Capitan General
de Florida y sus Provincias, Don Pablo de Hita y Salasar
Palace of Governor and Captain General of Florida and its Provinces, Don Pablo de Hita y Salaaar.
Constructed in 1680.
The claim made in the placque for this building and the Salazar
Coat of Arms over the doorway are not supported by historical evidence,
Identification of Persons named in this study:
Antonia de Avero (1717-1792) the owner listed in the Puente map of 1764.
Josef". Guillen - Antonia's first husband, died 1743.
Joaquin Blanco - Antonia's second husband.
Antonio Fernandez, - Antonia's son-in-law; husband of
Victoriana Guillen - Antonia's daughter by her first husband.
Eugenia de Hita y Salaaar - Antonia's niece; the daughter of Geronimo de Hita y Salazar and Juana de Avero, Antonia's
Tadeo de Arribas - son of Raymundo Alonso de Arribas and Ursula de Avero, Antonia's sister
Manuel Gastilla » husband of F
Rafaela Femandez-Antonia's grand daughter; daughter- of Vietoriana Guillen and Antonio Fernandez,
Juan de Penaloza - Antonia's great-grandfather*
Juan de Cotilla -Spanish Engineer who appraised properties in 1763.
Jesse Fish - A British subject who resided in St* Augustine prior to 1763; entrusted by Juan Eligio de la Puente to
dispose of certain properties.
Juan Jose Eligio de la Puente - Sales agent for Spanish evacuees; map, January 22, 1764.
Patrick Tonyn - British Governor of East Florida 1774-1784-
Vicente Manuel de Zespedes - Spanish Governor of East Florida 1784-1790.
Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada - Spanish Governor of East Florida 1790- 1796.
Bartolome* Benitez y Galvea - Minister of the Royal Hacienda; appointed to serve as Fiscal in this claim.
El Gonde Bernardo de Galvea - Chief Officer and Captain General of both East and West Florida,
Mariano de la Rocque - Spanish Engineer; Map, April 16, 1788. James Moncrief - British Engineer; map, ca, 1765*
The Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1763 gave Florida to Great Britain, and provided that Spanish citizens evacuating
St. Augustine could sell their property to British subjects within 18 months from the treaty ratification. Captain Juan de
Cotilla of Engineers was commissioned to appraise properties and supervise the sales to the English. Cotilla was
recalled to Havana and the Crown then appointed Commissioner Don Juan Jose Eligio de la Puente, who took over
Cotilla's duties. To discharge his responsibility properly, Puente made a map of St. Augustine, dated January 22, 1764,2
on which he listed the owner, lot measurements and building material of each house. The site at 39 St. George Street
appears on the Puente map as follows:
Block E - No. 81. Stone house of Antonia de Avero;
North-South 15 varas; East-West 71 varas.
Puente was unable to dispose of all the properties, and in turn sold certain parcels in trust to Mr. Jesse Fish, who in turn
agreed to remit to Puente or other designated person the proceeds of any sales which he might make. Cotilla's
appraisal of what appears to pertain to the above house, which he listed in the name of Don Joaquin) Pesos Eeales
Blanco, is as follows:? )
For 3855 varas planas of Lot, having 55 on the front of the said street, [Calle del Govemador] and a depth of 71,
at 1 real per vara , * * .
For 812 cubic varas of hewn stone on the whole structure at 4 Pesos per vara , . . ,
For all the lower floors of all the house and the flat roofs .:..l85 Ft
For an oven and hearth of hewn stone.,...,,.... 18 -5-
For the beams and tablas de canon principal [ 1) of the house 10O
For the same [Ydem] of the two adjoining rooms. 81
For 5 doors and 3 windows in the parlor and ".:bedroom. 96
For 3 doors and 2 windows in said rooms [parlor and bedroom] 40
For the lumber of the pantry roof, its door and window .47
For a cupboard with its door in the dining.room
For the lumber of the dining rooms or corridors of the parlor and bedrooms and a pantry with a shingled roof. ......... .86
For the lumber of the kitchen and its shingled roof 76
For 2 doors and 2 windows of the above [kitchen] .5
For the flat roof of the inner upper living quarter 45
For 2 upper doors and 2 upper windows '20
For a stairway, with its roof, rail and handrail .30
For an upper balcony JO
For the entresuelo [stair landing] ...... 45
For a lower door and window 2&
For the roof of the dining room of this dwelling [upper living quarter?]. ... 30
For a washhouse and chicken coop. ....... 10
For the board fences and fence posts of the lot 90
For the fruit trees ,.......,..,.. 15
Total 4827 7
Neither the accounts of Jesse Fisb or de la Puente give indication that this particular site was ever conveyed by iintonia
de Avero to either Puente, Fish or any other British subject before she departed for Havana. It is therefore assumed that
the house became British crown property in 1764.
By 1777, Dr Andrew Turnbull's New Smyrna colony had failed, and its settlers of Mediterranean origin;,, accompanied by
Father Pedro Camps, migrated to St. Augustine where they were given lands in the northern part of town by the British
Governor, Patrick Tonyn. They found the only place of public vrorship to be the Anglican church, St. Peter's, on south
St. George Street. In the Treaty of 1763, Great Britain had guaranteed the liberty of the Catholic religion to the
inhabitants of Florida. Governor Tonyn now honored his country's ' obligation by turning over the house then on the St.
George street site to Father Camps for "a private oratory for the use of the Catholic Minorcans, allowing that there was
no other domain to this house but his [British Government] . . ."
The Treaty of Versailles in 1783 returned Florida to Spain, and gave British subjects 18 months to dispose of their
properties. Many Floridlans, former residents of St. Augustine, or their heirs, returned "with the idea that each, of them
had a right to take possession of their respective property by virtue of power of attorney and transfers, and others
without any other formality than that of saying 'this formerly belonged to me, or to my grandfather, or to my uncle,
&e . . .'" Zespedez related the deplorable condition of the houses in the city, almost half of which were uninhabitable,
and asked that power be given him to grant lands with preference to the old inhabitants, and afterwards to the
Minorcans or any other Spaniard who might come to settle, and lastly, to foreigners. No progress was made
during Zespedez' administration.
Among those who returned was Lt. Col, Antonio Fernandez, who arrived in St. Augustine in 1784 in command of a
Dragoon Company, and armed with a power of attorney from the Avero children. He immediately took custody of two of
the three Avero houses,** The site under study appears on the map of St. Augustine made by Engineer Mariano de la
Rocque. The map purports to show every house in existence on April 16, 1788, and the ground floor plan of each house
„ An accompanying notebook recorded the name of the owner or occupant, the building material, and its condition.
Rocque described the property as follows:
Block 2 No. 5
Masonry and squared stone-work house with one two story section, with a portion of the neighboring lot annexed, v/ith
the fence which corresponds to the house also of masonry; its flat roofs, frames and floors in bad condition; in the
custody of Antonio Fernandez. A little later in 178S, Victoriana Guillen de Fernandez gave permission to Eugenia de
Hita y Salazar to use "a masonry house almost in ruins so that she could live and take care of it while the Government
determined about this property." The house was located "in front of the house in which Tadeo de Arribas now lives Col.
Fernandez himself had to be absent from St. Augustine and he transferred his power of attorney to Accountant Gonzalo
de Zamorano on May 11, 1788. Zamorano's power was revoked three years later (1791) when Tadeo de Arribas was
empowered by Fernandez to act in the matter of the Avero claims. Governor Quesada's inspection of St. Augustine in
1790 revealed that many houses that had reverted to the crown would be completely lost unless immediate steps were
taken. To remedy the situation, he authorised an inventory of all houses and lots and advertised them for sale at a
public auction, with the understanding that the buyers would repair them within a year's time. The appraisers described
the house then on the St. George Street site as follows:
* * *
On June 13, 1972, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
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|Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer August 1961
FROM NORTHWEST -
Minorcan Chapel, 39 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine
|Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer August 1961
EAST (REAR) ELEVATION -
Minorcan Chapel, 39 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine
|Photius the Great (also Photios; Greek Φώτιoς), Patriarch
of Constantinople, is considered one of the greatest
patriarchs of Constantinople. His feast day is celebrated
on February 6.