A short walk from the plaza down a narrow street will find you looking through the loggia to the garden of the Kirby Smith house. Historically, this house was the birthplace of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith. For residents who’ve lived here more than a couple decades, it was also the public library.
As a kid, I would spend hours in the children’s section picking out another Nancy Drew mystery or Bobbsey Twins story. It was here I first fell in love with Celia Garth. There wasn’t room for comfortable seating areas or work tables – every square inch was taken up with books.
Space wasn’t the only problem, just getting to the library could be a challenge. Parking has always been a problem in downtown St. Augustine and the narrow streets leading to and from the library were a challenge to navigate in anything bigger than a VW bug. As the county grew, so did the need for a full-service library in a more accessible location. The new library at Davenport Park in “North City” has been joined by five more branches around the county – with the main branch conveniently located not far from Moultrie Creek headquarters.
The old building still serves the community as a library. It is now the library of the St. Augustine Historical Society and houses a fabulous collection of documents and records covering almost 500 years of the history of this area. There are plenty of great stories to be found here and lots of mysteries – both solved and un-solved.
This library is just a fascinating as the library of my childhood with a dedicated staff to assist visitors in their research efforts. I’ve also found it a delightful place to get re-acquainted with childhood friends.