St. Augustine Florida History

St. Augustine Tours

Agustin Inn is located in the heart of the St Augustine Historic District. We are steps from the Castillo de San Marcos, Bridge of Lions and historic St. George Street and Charlotte Street. Come experience premier St. Augustine shopping, attractions and dining while staying in our historic St Augustine Florida Bed and Breakfast. To enhance your stay in the “Old City,” we have detailed the unique and rich History of St Augustine FL.

Spanish Control

St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in North America. Fifty-five years prior to the Plymouth Rock colony in Massachusetts and forty-two years previous to the Virginia Jamestown settlement, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 600 soldiers and settlers established St. Augustine and drove out the French garrison that was situated on the St. Johns River. Menendez de Aviles had been commissioned by the King of Spain to drive out any pirates, settlers of other nations and, most importantly, the French to protect Spain’s claim and interests in Florida.

In 1565, St. Augustine was established as Spain’s only North American outpost. St. Augustine’s original purpose was to fend off the numerous pirates that preyed on unsuspecting Spanish treasure ships returning with gold and precious items from South America. It was thought that a fort along the coast of Florida would protect the ships and deter pirates from attack. It proved to be a successful plan, though pirates continually attacked the fort structures, originally made of wood and palmetto. In 1586, Sir Francis Drake burned St. Augustine to the ground, prompting the Spanish to look for new building materials and ways of protecting their fortress. In 1598, the Spaniards discovered coquina, a hard rock-like material made of broken shells. The Spanish had Native American and slaves harvest the coquina from the Anastasia Island quarry and haul it over to the mainland. Coquina is very easy and soft to carve out of the ground but when exposed to air, the material becomes rock solid. This proved to be the perfect material for the Spaniards and the discovery determined much of the History of St Augustine FL.

Further colonization in Georgia and the Carolinas by the British forced the Spanish to increase St. Augustine’s size and protective structures. In 1672, Queen Mariana of Spain ordered that a large fort be constructed to protect St. Augustine. Construction on the fort continued until 1695 and today, the fort is St. Augustine’s most historically significant structure. It is due to the Castillo de San Marcos that St. Augustine has never been conquered. The structure was made entirely of coquina and although siege attempts were made on the fort in 1702 and 1740, the stalwart fort stood strong and successfully protected St. Augustine.

In 1763, Spain ceded Florida to the British. For twenty years, the British controlled St. Augustine until 1783 when the Treaty of Paris returned Florida to the Spanish. On July 10, 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States and Spanish control in Florida was terminated forever.

Golden Era

Florida remained a largely uninhabited territory during the early 1800s. Yellow fever epidemics, the Seminole War of 1836 and the overall frontier nature of Florida deterred many visitors and settlers. Rather cut off from the rest of the Union, Florida developed its own unique culture and way of life. However, at the end of the American Civil War, land speculators and developers began to discover the beautiful beaches, land and mysterious swamps of Florida. Henry Flagler brought the railroad industry to Florida in 1885 and with it, St. Augustine was ushered into is golden era.

Flagler helped establish St. Augustine as a luxury, resort town. Advertising the health benefits of sun and fresh air and the unique ambiance of St. Augustine, Flagler transformed the area into a leisure town full of golf, yacht racing and beach enjoyment. Together with John D. Rockefeller, the co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, Flagler built the magnificent Alcazar and Ponce de Leon hotels. Accommodating America’s wealthiest travelers in a wrap of luxury and finery, the hotels became winter retreats that guests traveled to via the Florida East Coast Railway.

Since 1959, the State of Florida has worked tirelessly to preserve and restore the colonial structures and historic buildings. Agustin Inn , built as a Victorian home in 1898, is a piece of St. Augustine History itself. Come stay with us in the heart of the St Augustine Historic District and walk to the Castillo de San Marcos and other historical sites. Our accommodation and rooms transport you to the luxury and ambiance of St. Augustine’s Golden Era. Book your St. Augustine Vacation with us today!