A recent history of horse-drawn carriages presented


20100521_carriagesHCN_0690Historic City News readers received a history lesson, of sorts, presented by Assistant City Manager Tim Burchfield during last night’s regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission.

One hot topic in St Augustine daily, and during the meeting Monday night, is the city’s iconic horse-drawn carriages; their impact on downtown traffic, the condition and appearance of the carriages themselves, the health and welfare of the horses, temporary and permanent stable locations, training and qualifications of operators, as well as the number of carriages permitted to be on the city streets.

As long as there have been carriage rides in St Augustine, there have been residents and visitors with sometimes strong and differing opinions of the benefit and imposition they present. They have been part of the city’s transportation and sightseeing industry since the early days of the city’s development — and at the center of controversy nearly as long.

At the moment, requests from commercial users of carriage services (hoteliers, bed and breakfast operators, tour services) have come to the commission asking that more permits be issued to allow other operators to enter the market; providing motivation for competition on price and service; ultimately to the benefit of the guests and passengers.

As part of his agenda item, Burchfield presented a timeline to the commission and audience that outlines dates and operators of horse-drawn carriages in recent history. We have published that part of his presentation for our readers enjoyment:

Horse Carriage Industry Recent Timeline

City Commission limits the number of permits to 49 because of congestion and safety concerns
St. Augustine Transfer 46 permits
Charles Walker 1 permit
Fred Scott 1 permit
Gerome Gamsey (Gam San) 1 permit

Albert Colee (St. Augustine Transfer) turned in 10 permits under the condition that the permits not be reissued
City Commission limits permits to 39
St. Augustine Transfer 36 permits
Charles Walker 1 permit
Fred Scott 1 permit
Gam San 1 permit

City Commission modifies Code to allow for special permits
Issues 1 special permit each to Ernest Johnson, El; C.B. Hinson, and R.H. Jones
Issues 4 special permits to Stuart Gamsey

Almarie and Ambrose Colee (St. Augustine Transfer Company) controls 37 permits
Gam San and Stuart Gamsey controls 7 permits
R.H. Jones controls 1 permit
C.B. Hinson controls 1 permit

St. Augustine Transfer Company sold to Stuart Gamsey who now controls 44 permits
R.H. Jones controls 1 permit
C.B. Hinson controls 1 permit

Late 1990’s – Early 2000’s
City Commission begins discussions on reworking the Horse Carriage Ordinance

St. Augustine Transfer Company attempts to sell business to Ripley’s Entertainment (City Commission tables the issue; Ripley’s later withdraws it’s offer)
Country Carriages purchases 2 permits from St. Augustine Transfer Company
St. Augustine Transfer Company controls 42 permits
R.H. Jones transfers 1 permit to Murphy McDaniel (Avalon Carriage)
C.B. Hinson controls 1 permit
October – City and Stuart Gamsey are sued by Murphy McDaniel (On advice from the City Attorney the City halts discussions on Ordinance modification until lawsuit is finalized)

City is dismissed from the lawsuit
As part of the lawsuit settlement Avalon Carriage purchases St. Augustine Transfer Company from Stuart Gamsey (Avalon now controls 43 permits)
Country Carriages controls 2 permits
C.B. Hinson controls 1 permit

City Attorney’s Office begins a rewrite of the Horse Carriage Ordinance

New Horse Carriage Ordinance is passed authorizing 30 permits
15 permits are issued to Avalon Carriage
10 permits are issued to Country Carriages
2 permits are issued to C.B. Hinson
1 permit is issued to Southern Heritage Carriages
1 permit is issued to Robert Stevens
1 permit is issued to John Rebman

15 permits for Avalon Carriage are revoked for numerous reasons
15 permits are still active
10 permits to Country Carriage
2 permits to C.B. Hinson
1 permit to Southern Heritage Carriages
1 permit to Robert Stevens
1 permit to John Rebman

All current permit holders are in good standing

Horse Stabling and Operations
Stables located at 650 Riberia Street
Property owned by the City of St. Augustine
Leased to Country Carriages
Only one of two properties that allow for stabling of horses within the City
7 years remaining on current lease

Horse Stabling and Operations
Horse Transfer Station at 665 Riberia St.
Property owned by the City of St. Augustine
Leased to 4 Horse Franchisees
Site is fully leased out
Carriages and equipment are stored at this location
Horses are trailered in and our daily

Horse Stabling and Operations
Property located at 133 Cedar Street
Formerly Ancient City Awning
Currently leased by Franchisee
Site can only be used for storage of carriages and equipment
Horse cannot be stabled on the property

Horse Stabling and Operations
Property located at 115 La Quinta Place
Old Colee’s Stables
Second location within the City that allows for stabling of horses
Last known to be in legal battle over ownership
Options for use at this time are undeterminable

Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News staff photographer