Next week, Historic City News readers in St Augustine will get a first look at plans for a redesigned Colonial Spanish Quarter when its new manager, Colonial Quarter, LLC, asks the Historic Architectural Review Board for permission to construct outbuildings, rehabilitate existing buildings, conduct site and landscape alterations, and install site furniture.
Since July 2010, the University of Florida has maintained control over the two-acre, eleven-building complex owned by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida under University of Florida Lease No. 2734.
A Direct Support Organization, “UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc.” was formed in December 2010 to oversee and develop support for the properties and began working toward implementation of strategic plan recommendations, including a Memorandum of Agreement with the City of St Augustine relevant to the management and operation of the Colonial Spanish Quarter.
The City of St Augustine gave up management of the Quarter last year, after city officials said that there was no practical justification to continue operation of the attraction. Heritage Tourism director Dana Ste. Claire explained to reporters that the Spanish Quarter, “loses money, always has lost money, and always will lose money for the city”.
Commissioners agreed to allow the city administration to close all of the included public properties, except the taberna; which officials said is self-sufficient.
In recent months, Historic City News has reported on discussions with sightseeing and attraction operators interested in taking on operation of the Quarter as a private enterprise.
Pirate Museum operator, Pat Croce, won support from the University of Florida with his proposal to create what he calls, “a journey through layers of history of the Nation’s Oldest City.”
If approved, visitors will travel through three centuries of history, interpreted in defined quadrants connected by a walking path. Croce describes the experience as an educational walk, “through three centuries of Spanish and British rule, and the diversity of people who left an indelible mark on its historic footprint, including Native Americans, African-Americans, and Menorcans.”
According to the plans, “The Quarter”, as it will be named, will feature:
18th Century Spanish: Garrison Town
Northwest quadrant | Time period 1700 to 1763
Directly inside of the Florencia House entrance is the “18th Century Spanish Garrison Town,” with existing structures interpreting civilian life in the 1700s, prior to the transfer of the colony to Britain in the 1763 Treaty of Paris.
18th Century British: The 14th Colony
Southwest quadrant | Time period 1763 to 1784
The pathway from the Spanish Garrison Town heads south to the British 14th Colony, which tells the story of St. Augustine’s role as the seat of government in the British Colony of East Florida.
The British colonial-era DeMesa Sanchez House provides an excellent backdrop. This quadrant will help provide a familiar point of reference for many visitors to understand St. Augustine’s story in relation to the typical understanding of American history.
16th Century: Spanish Outpost
Southeast quadrant | Time period 1565 to 1600
Visitors will enter the “16th Century Spanish Military Outpost” from the east entrance to the Colonial Quarter or from the “Flags over St. Augustine” to the south.
17th Century Spanish: “Fortified Town”
Northeast quadrant | Time period 1600 to 1700
This quadrant interprets the small “military outpost” growth into a “17th Century Spanish Fortified Town.” The story of the Castillo de San Marcos and the preceding wooden forts is told in this area.
Flags over St. Augustine
South property line | Time period 1565 to 2012
This boardwalk will display the flags that have flown over St. Augustine. Planting on either side of the boardwalk will help transition between the 18th century British and 16th century Spanish quadrants.
If you are planning to attend — the regular Historic Architectural Review Board meeting will begin at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, August 16, and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of the west wing of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine.