Tag Archives: Sir Francis Drake in Florida

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 11

27 Feb

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites


Day 11 Monday 10/29/2018


After a great breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed south on I-95 to visit the beautiful old Florida city of St. Augustine, with its many historic landmarks and museums. It had been several years since DiVoran and I had visited St. Augustine, and I had forgotten how difficult it is to find parking close to any of the museums or points of interest I was planning on visiting.  After wasting half an hour squeezing thru the narrow streets, looking for a parking place close to my first museum, I gave up and went to the Visitor Information Center. I bought an All-Day “On & Off” Old Town Trolley Tour ticket, which took care of most of my parking and museum access problems for the day.



I had allowed two days in St. Augustine to see the many museums and points of interest on my list, so the trolley tour approach should work out fine.  However, I had also forgotten just how many museums and other points of interest there really are in St. Augustine.  I had no way of knowing, at the time, just how long this day was going to turn out to be, or (now) just how long this day’s write-up was going to take me!  The Trolley Tour visited 23 different points of interest, and that didn’t take into consideration my personal list.  (This day’s activities will be divided into four parts, so bear with me).


At the visitor Center, I was informed that in 1565 King Philip II of Spain sent General Pedro Menendez de Aviles to Florida to settle the region and eliminate all French influence in the area.  Menendez claimed “La Florida” for Spain, at that time, and established “San Agustin” as the first Spanish settlement.  (Check Wikipedia for many interesting facts about the early Spanish claims to Florida).



Since the Visitor Center was only a block or so from the original “San Agustin” main city gate, I walked over to take a photo.  Local information informs visitors that even though construction on the Castillo de San Marcos fort had begun as early as 1672, it did not deter the devastating attacks on the city by various enemy forces and pirates over the next 30 or so years.  When construction of the fort was completed in 1695, even that did not stop Sir Francis Drake and his British fleet from attacking “San Agustin” in 1698, and ultimately burning the city to the ground in 1702 (check Wikipedia for “Sir Francis Drake in St. Augustine” for a very interesting story about why he was in Florida).



In the years that followed, the city was rebuilt and additional fortifications began with the Cubo Line, a mote, and a main gate (made of massive coquina pillars and heavy wooden doors). At the time this gate was the only access to the city of  “San Agustin,” and was closed and locked each evening.



Once inside the city gate, the “Oldest City in the United States” opened up to me, and I began the typical tourist walk down St. George Street.  The first building I came to was the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.  Claiming to be the “Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse” still standing in the United States, we are told that the first school master, and his family, lived on the second floor of the building.  With no official records as to when this schoolhouse was actually built, it first shows up in city records in 1716, after the British burned the city to the ground in 1702.



Just down the street, was the Spanish Bakery, with its delicious aromas wafting out across the street.  A little further down was the Columbia Restaurant and the Medieval Torture Collection.  I had not known there was a Columbia Restaurant in town and besides that, it was too early for lunch.  I wasn’t particularly interested in what kind of cruelty people had imposed upon each other back in the Middle Ages, so I kept going.



At King Street I turned left and started back north on Aviles Street to visit the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.  This is a very interesting museum, with a guided tour that includes an elaborate description of the tools and procedures used by military physicians during the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821) in “San Agustin.”



I continued north on Charlotte Street until I got to Castillo Drive and visited the Pirate & Treasure Museum.  I was amazed at how many individual exhibits and how many artifacts they were able to fit into this small museum.  They claim to have the largest collection of “authentic” pirate artifacts in the country (dating from the mid-1600s).




—–More of this day’s activities will be continued next week—–


Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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