A new exhibit at the St. Augustine Historical Society tells the story of St. Augustine and the First Coast with maps. For 500 years this area has documented on maps dating from as early as 1502. The exhibit is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm in the Page Edwards Gallery at the Oldest House Complex.
The Llambias house gets its name from T. Llambias, one of the Minorcan survivors of Andrew Turnbull’s failed New Symrna colony, who was one of the owners of the house. Built prior to the British arrival in 1763, this house is constructed of coquina with a detached kitchen building. While the kitchen garden you see here is beautifully landscaped today, it had a much more utilitarian purpose in centuries gone by.
Today the Llambias house is maintained by the St. Augustine Historical Society. The garden is available for weddings and other social events.
Marine Studios, later known as Marineland of Florida, opened in 1938 and was billed as the world’s first “oceanarium”. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the south end of St. Johns County. The road you see here is part of scenic A1A. The circular structure on the right was the dolphin tank. You could watch the dolphins from the top or from two levels of portholes surrounding the sides of the tank. You can see one through the door on the bottom right. To the left of the mast is the rectangular tank that showcased an assortment of sea creatures ranging from sharks to sea turtles to grouper.
These buildings are gone now. A modern facility offering dolphin adventures has taken its place. The facility was recently purchased by the Georgia Aquarium.
I just noticed that there’s now a Marineland edition of the Images of America series. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive!
Many of us remember the Matanzas Theater next to the Exchange Bank building. How many Saturday afternoons were spent enjoying the air-conditioning while watching movies, cartoons and western serials. There were summer-long contests for bicycles and enticements to get you back. For our parents, it was a couple hours of peace and quiet.
This photo was taken in 1951 during the premier of the Gary Cooper movie, Distant Drums, a Seminole War story which was partially filmed here in St. Augustine. Notice the original Chimes Restaurant to the right of the theater.
The theater was torn down sometime in the early 1960s leaving St. Augustine with only a drive-in theater for movie entertainment. It would be a decade or more before St. Augustine had a walk-in theater again when the “mini-theaters” opened at the new mall.
Photo courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection.
The Belleview Biltmore Hotel is one of the last remaining symbols of the Gilded Age in Florida. While Henry Flagler was building a railroad and resort hotels down the east coast of Florida, Henry Plant was doing the same down Florida’s west coast. In addition to the Biltmore, Plant also built the Tampa Bay Hotel (now University of Tampa).
Built in 1897, the Biltmore is considered to be the largest occupied wood frame structure in the world, however it is currently closed as the owners struggle to finance the renovations necessary to keep it functioning. In recent years there have been attempts to demolish the hotel so the property could be developed. Preservationists have worked hard to keep the hotel intact. One look into the grand ballroom will convince most that this relic of days gone by needs to be preserved. In a world where multi-functional boxes serve most hotels, it’s worth preserving a storybook ballroom full of Victorian architecture and Tiffany windows.
The structure in the foreground of this photo is the spa with indoor pool and all the facilities you would expect in a luxury hotel. This photo was taken in 2005 when we enjoyed several days at the Biltmore for a military reunion.
Blue Springs is the largest of the springs feeding the St. Johns River and, with a year-round water temperature of 73°, it provides a winter home for a number of manatees. If you would like to get away from the hustle and bustle of Florida’s commercial attractions and enjoy a bit of Florida’s natural beauty, pay a visit to Blue Springs State Park.
Memorial Day honors the men and women of our Armed Forces who gave their lives defending our country. Ceremonies at national and local cemeteries around the country will remember them. Here at St. Augustine National Cemetery, a service will be held Monday morning beginning at 10:00. Veteran and civic groups join local citizens and interested visitors in honoring America’s heroes. Please join us.
A view of the intersection of St. George Street and Cathedral Place taken sometime in the mid to late 1950s. The building with the balcony on the left is Government House and has been there since colonial times. At the time of this photograph it served as St. Augustine’s post office. The balcony overlooks the plaza.
The two buildings just across Cathedral Place are gone. Now there is a parking lot on the left and a garden adjoining the Cathedral on the right.
Today, from this intersection north to the old city gates, St. George Street is closed to vehicular traffic. What was once the main business district for the town is now a mall full of gift shops, galleries and restaurants along with the historic sites.