When visiting Florida, one should not miss the opportunity to explore the state’s rich history and culture by visiting some of its oldest and most beautiful mansions. The González–Álvarez House, also known as The Oldest House, is a must-see attraction as it stands out as the oldest and most historic house in the state. This magnificent mansion has survived the test of time and is a testament to the state’s rich heritage.
The History of The Oldest House
Located at 14 St. Francis Street in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental United States, The Oldest House has a construction history dating back to about 1723. It was built by Tomas González y Hernández, a Spanish soldier and royal accountant. Initially, the house was a one-story coquina stone structure with a thatched roof and a detached kitchen. Over the years, the house underwent several modifications and expansions by its successive owners. In the late 18th century, the British merchant Joseph Peavett added a second story and a wooden balcony. Later in the early 19th century, the Minorcan farmer Juan Genoply added a shingle roof and a coquina kitchen.
In 1918, the St. Augustine Historical Society obtained the house, which has been maintained and revived as a museum ever since. This house is thought to be the oldest surviving dwelling in St. Augustine and one of the oldest in the country. It is also a National Historic Landmark and a component of the Colonial St. Augustine Historic District.
The Features of The Oldest House
The Oldest House exemplifies exceptional colonial architecture and craftsmanship, serving as a testament to the intricate history of Florida. This house highlights the impact of various cultures, including Spanish, British, and American, and the contributions of settlers from Minorca, Mallorca, and Ibiza, as well as Native Americans.
Inside the house, visitors can witness a glimpse of the past through the original and period furnishings, artifacts, paintings, and documents. These items showcase the stories and lives of the people who once called this place home. Among the notable highlights are a rare 18th-century map of St. Augustine, a 19th-century piano, a collection of antique firearms, and a portrait of Francisco Pellicer, a prominent Minorcan leader.
Surrounding the house is a stunning garden filled with a variety of native and exotic plants, including palm trees, roses, jasmine, and oleander. The garden boasts a well, a cistern, and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the beloved patron saint of the city.
The Significance of The Oldest House
The Oldest House isn’t just any historic house. It’s a living museum that provides a one-of-a-kind and genuine insight into the past of Florida and the entire country. This iconic place is where tourists can gain knowledge about the history, culture, and heritage of St. Augustine and its inhabitants, from the colonial period to the present time. Not only that, but it is also a spot where visitors can admire the loveliness and allure of the oldest and most historic city in the United States.
You can visit The Oldest House any day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on major holidays. The admission fee is $10 for adults, $8.50 for seniors and military personnel, $5 for students, and free for children under 6. If you’re interested in a guided tour, they are available every half hour. Throughout the year, The Oldest House also offers special events and programs for visitors. For additional information, you can check out The Oldest House Museum Complex website or call (904) 824-2872.
The González-Álvarez House, also known as The Oldest House, is a historic house museum that stands strong even after more than a century of existence. This architectural gem is located in St. Augustine and is regarded as the oldest mansion in Florida. The house museum not only showcases the rich history of the city but also serves as a testament to the culture and heritage of the nation’s oldest city. A visit to this magnificent mansion is a must for history enthusiasts, architectural buffs, and anyone who appreciates beauty.
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