Historic City News sponsor, Old Town Trolley Tours, welcomed city officials and visitors to an unveiling ceremony for the marker identifying the Old Drug Store at 31 Orange Street as a Florida Heritage Site; sponsored by Historic Tours of America and the Florida Department of State.
The landmark building on the corner of Orange Street and Cordova Street once served as a working drug store, and continued as a sundries store until the 1960’s.
“We are committed to preserving this historic building for the citizens of St Augustine,” said Edwin O. Swift IV, Chief Operating Officer of Historic Tours of America, Inc., the owner of the property and operator of Potter’s Wax Museum housed inside.
Mayor Nancy Shaver participated in the unveiling, thanking Operations Manager David Chatterton for his hospitality. She complimented the Raintree Restaurant who prepared heavy hors d’oeuvres and served Spanish wine to the guests.
The site was once the intersection of the Cubo and Rosaria lines that fortified colonial St. Augustine during the late 18th century. During that period, Tolomato Indians established a mission village in the eastern corner of the property, then later converted to land to a catholic cemetery in the 1770’s.
Henry Flagler’s Model Land Company acquired the property in the 1800’s to be developed as part of an upscale Victorian residential neighborhood.
The first drug store established on the site was built by Antonio Gomaas in 1739. In 1868, a 49-year-old Confederate soldier, Thomas William Speissegger, left Charleston and moved his family to nearby Mill Creek. In 1875, he bought the business; now billed as the oldest drug store in Florida.
T.W. Speissegger died in St Augustine on August 4, 1894, and he is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. His two sons continued to operate the store until it was converted to a museum and gift shop.