For the first time since 2005 Historic City News readers will have a two-hour window in which to visit and tour the interior of the St Augustine Waterworks Building located in Davenport Park on San Marco Avenue. Saturday’s event is part of the city’s celebration of National Historic Preservation Month.
The open house will be on Saturday, May 26 from 10:00 a.m. until noon at 184 San Marco Ave., and will allow the public its first opportunity to see the interior of the building since it was closed more than a decade ago. Parking is available on site and at the adjacent St. Johns County Library’s Main Branch. Due to construction, enter from Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
The Waterworks building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1898 as the pumping station for the city’s first water utility and remained in service until a new water plant opened in 1927 on West King Street. The site was then developed into Davenport Park and the building continued in use as a little theatre, then home for the St. Augustine Arts Club, and later as the St. Augustine Garden Club.
In 2005 the building was deemed unsafe when inspections reveled that mortar had been reduced to powder in some places threatening the stability of the brick walls that were carrying the load of a heavy truss system. The city began a diligent pursuit of historic preservation funding that would enable the restoration of the building.
During the open house, visitors will be able to see that the exterior walls are now secure, windows and doors have been restored and the non-historic addition on the west side of the building has been removed. Historic finishes and materials are now visible on the inside although the interior restoration has yet to be completed. Work completed thus far was funded through a state grant that covered careful architectural and engineering plans that led construction work over the last three years. Another phase of grant work is proposed that will be considered later this year by the Florida Historical Commission.
City staff will be on hand to talk about the history, the rehabilitation, and the archaeological investigation of the site.
The city is proud to host this open house as part of its celebration of National Historic Preservation month, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Events across the country are planned to promote historic places; instilling national and community pride, promoting heritage tourism, and showing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.