After months of planning, construction, hiring and an investment of about $3 million, Historic City News reporters were informed that St Augustine’s best known pirate, Pat Croce, is now running the living history museum that failed under St Augustine city management.
Now known as the “Colonial Quarter” under the St Augustine Pirate and Treasure museum operator’s management, the future, Croce says, is bright.
During past city commission meetings and workshops, before the legislature acted to have management of the two-acre museum turned over to the University of Florida, former Heritage Tourism director Dana Ste. Claire, Assistant City Manager Tim Burchfield and City Manager John Regan all cited high operating costs — often centered on the cost of employees — as an explanation for the financial losses that were chronically suffered.
Last June, Director of Business Affairs for the University of Florida, Ed Poppell, announced to City officials that University of Florida Historic St Augustine, Inc., the direct service organization who administers the property under a lease from its owners, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida, had decided to award a lease contract for the property to Croce.
Interpretation of the Colonial Spanish period has been expanded to include British Colonial times in St Augustine in the new “Colonial Quarter”. The cast of employees clad in authentic period costumes was increased by more than three-times; compared to when the city was operating the living museum. Croce reported recently that he has 71 re-enactors.
School groups and tourists are already taking tours through the four quadrants of the redesigned Colonial Quarter; which interprets 300 years of St Augustine history. The Spanish period features a gunsmith, a leather shop and a tavern with a restaurant and features a watch tower with a great view of the city, Matanzas Bay and the lighthouse.
In the British area, there’s a ship under construction, a print shop with a lead-type printing press, and a British pub that serves food and drinks. Construction continues on a stage where actors, sword fighters and magicians will perform a Colonial Review in the future.