Villa Zorayda
83 King St
St. Augustine Florida
NRHP 93001002
Moorish Revival
Villa Zorayda and Franklin Smith
The most significant building in understanding the grand hotels of Henry Flagler is Villa Zorayda.
The building is the accumulation of all the elements to be used in the construction of the hotels. It
was completed in 1883 as the winter home of Franklin W. Smith, an amateur architect and a
celebrity in his own right. The architectural rebirth of the city starts in 1883 with the building of Villa
Zorayda by Franklin Waldo Smith. This is the second house in the United States built of poured
concrete. He models it after the Alhambra Castle in Spain. Smith chooses the name Zorayda from
Washington Irving's book on the Alhambra (one of the princesses).The building is built at 1/10
scale of one wing of the castle.  

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)

Smith, in his book, A Design and Prospectus for A Nationaly Gallery of History and Art at
said: "In the winder of 1882, while in Spain, I decided to build a winter home in St.
Augustine after the model which the experience of centuries had proved desirable in semi-tropical
countries. An oriental house of wood would be an anchronism; yet there was no stone in Florida.
To freight it from the North would be an extravagence. At Vevay, on Lake Geneva, subsequently,
the dilemma of material was relieved. In the nieghborhood a chateau was in construction...In the
following December, with a Boston mason, experiments were made and the first concrete blocks
following December, with a Boston mason, experiments were made and the first concrete blocks
of coquina, sand and Portland cement were cast in St. Augustine for the Villa Zorayda. They were
preserved as valuable relics. Then the first course around the lines of the dwelling herein depicted
was liad in planks 10 inches high, and filled with the mixture. In two days a range of handsome
smooth stone was revealed. It was followed by another immediately, and these layers hardened
sufficiently to allow the raising of the walls a course every other day."

"This concrete was first employed by Mr. Franklin W. Smith, of Boston, Mass., in the construction
of his unique winter residence, the Villa Zorayda, which is on the Alameda, opposite the Hotel
Ponce de Leon. Mr. Smith yet preserves as an archaelogical treasure the original, experimental
block of concrete, which figuratively is the corner stone of modern stone-built St. Augustine, for it
was the successful use of this material, as demonstrated in the building of the Villa Zoaryda, that
made possible the structures which have followed." (from the
1892 Standard Guide St.
by C. B. Reynolds)

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.

The building accomplished several of Smith's objectives: 1. the building material was durable, 2. the
Moorish architecture fit into the Spanish tradition of St. Augustine; and 3. the building material
included coquina gravel that gave it the same look as the old Fort. Of course, the poured concrete
construction would also be considered a descendent of earlier tabby buildings. Today, one can still
see the striation marks up the walls of the house. The house was and is a showcase to the genius of
Franklin Smith. Not only would the house influence Flagler in the style and composition of the
hotels, but many new St. Augustine homes would use the Moorish architectural style.  

The inside of the building had the same care taken as the outside. rugs and furnishings were
exported from Spain and northern Africa. The D. Appleton and Company published an edition de
luxe entitled "Artistic Homes of the United States" and said of this house. "It is the only Morrish
house in America, its whole aspect, one of curious beauty. It is massive yet not heavy. It must be
an extremely commonplace and unimaginative person who can look up at the facade of this
building and not begin to dream dreams. It is not that this architecture and these ornamentations are
a great deal like the Moors; they are absolute facsmilies, and the visitor is safe in giving himself up
to the admiration and enthusiasm which he will feel. Just in such places did these wonderful people
put just such tracery and  just such figures. Precisely such arches rose in their courts; such dark,
rich painting in the same marvelious geometrical figures adorned their walls. It is like nothing I have
ever seen."

In 1904 Villa Zorayda was used as a hotel. Ira C. Rinehart was the proprietor. This was the start
of its many uses. The property has been owned by the Mussellam family for decades. In 1910 it
was used as a restaurant called the Zorayda Grill.

January 7, 1910
Orchestra at the Zorayda Club.
The Kinckerbocker Orchestra which has been engaged to play at the Zorayda Club arrived here
this morning, and will give their first concert of this season tonight. The afternoon and evening
concerts will henceforth be given each day, and the Zorayda Club will again become the popular
rendezvous for the pleasure seekers of St. Augustine.

D. A. R. at Zorayda Club.
The Maria Jefferson Chapter, D. A. R., which held its monthly meetings at the Zorayda Club last
winter, will meet there again throughout this season. The first meeting to be held at the club will be
on Wednesday, January 12th.

January 13, 1910
First Hop at Zorayda.
The first hop of the season will take place at the Zorayda club Saturday evening which the public
are cordially invited to attend. For the past week decorators and carpenters have been engaged in
enlarging and decorating the ball room and it is now ready for the opening and made much larger
than last season
[Villa Zorayda, The]
William Henry Jackson, 1843-1942,  
Related Names: Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher
Date Created/Published: [between 1880 and 1897]
Zorayda Club, St. Augustine, Fla.
Related Names:
Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher
Date Created/Published: c1904.

Note: Sign Zorayda Club on roof
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