Historic City News editor Michael Gold was given the grand tour of the First Colony exhibit this morning so our readers could get an early look at what’s planned for the main lobby of Government House at the west end of the Town Plaza, in the heart of downtown St Augustine.
The exhibit is the culmination of two years of collaboration, design, restoration and construction — even longer if you consider the time spent researching and compiling the material used in the multimedia experience that will tell the story of life in St Augustine since its founding in 1565.
Presented by the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida Cultural Plaza, in Gainesville, the traveling exhibition can be updated and changed, from time to time, in order to keep the presentation fresh and to give visitors a reason to return.
The Government House is a 1937 replica of the original structure and courtyards, reconstructed under the Works Progress Administration. It was rebuilt on the same site where a government building has stood since 1598.
University of Florida Historic St Augustine, the Direct Support Organization that manages the State-owned historic properties in St Augustine, including Government House, has contracted the management of the exhibit and gift shop to Pat Croce, who is their tenant in the colonial quarter and privately owns the adjacent Pirate Museum.
UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc., Property Manager Billy Triay, told Historic City News that this evening about 200 invited guests will attend a pre-opening catered debut of the newly remodeled exhibit space. The Sala de Montiano, its adjoining courtyard, the second floor Government Suite and adjoining suites, will continue to be available for weddings, lectures, workshops, meetings, and performances.
The University’s new First Colony exhibit will open on a regular basis soon, Triay said. Admissions will be about $8, or less, with a special rate for children. In a 4-0 vote Monday night, the St Augustine City Commission approved a kiosk in the Visitor Information Center where tickets for Croce’s leased properties can be sold — both the Colonial Quarter and First Colony exhibit.