Governor's House

The Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival
St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties
Photograph of the Governor's House

Dublin Core

Creator

Title

Governor's House

Alternative Title

This building has had many name changes over the years. Records of each change is not possible, but include:
Government House
U.S. Post Office
UFHSA Governor’s House
Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum

Date Created

1598 = 1st building

Date Modified

1690 = 2nd building
1713 = 3rd building
1759
1764
1811
1830s
1868
1873
1902
1915
1935-1937
1968
1998

Type

The original purpose of both the original building and the current building was as the royal governor's resident and government offices.
This building was St. Augustine's U.S. Post Office and Customs House.
University of Florida uses the building as a collection center, library, and now museum.

Description

The Governor's House got its start in 1598 as the Royal Governor of East Florida's residence when Governor Gonzalo Mendez de Canzo built his home on this property. The structure followed the typical city plans as a home and center for administrative, municipal activities. A more durable coquina building was built in 1690 to replace the much older home, but this was destroyed in the 1702 Siege of St. Augustine. After the end of Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) the government house was rebuilt in 1713, and it is this structure that has been altered and still stands. In 1759, added onto this structure were a courtyard portal and entrance.

At the beginning of the British Period, in 1764, many aesthetic changes were made to the windows, chimneys, fireplaces, and stables by Governor James Grant.
When the 2nd Spanish Period started in 1783, from 1784-1788, Mariano de la Rocque, an engineer undertook more renovations and repairs to the structure. Sadly, there were many functional issues with the funding for the building in the succedding years and the last governor to live in the building left in 1811, leaving the building to be used only as office space.

By the 1830s, there were plans to renovate and remodel the building into a more Western (American) style, which unfortunately included removing many features instead of additions. Some of these changes include space appropriate for a court house, residential space for a U.S. attorney, and eventually a small space for a post office. Members of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry carted off so many bits and pieces of the building that in 1868, it had to be stabilized. 

From about 1883 to 1968 the building served as the Post Office. In 1888, the public library was in part of the building along with government offices and the post office. Periodic changes to the exterior of the building took place, but in 1902, indoor plumbing was installed. Much interior work was completed after a fire in 1915 gutted the building.

Mellen Greeley's renovation from 1935-1937 emulated the 1764 watercolor, which is the earliest known picture of the building. Ownership was transferred to the State of Florida.

Today, historic preservation has turned the space in the Governor's House Cultural Center and Museum, dedicated to representing the rich history of the building and providing a space to store documents pertaining to the Colonialization efforts in the 1960s to give St. Augustine back its 17th and 18th century vibe.

Has Part

This building was part of the Spanish and British governments.
As a territorial government building, the U.S. Treasury Department took on responsibility for the building.
This building was part of the U.S. Postal Service and was simultaneously used for U.S. Customs.
This building belongs to the University of Florida.

Mediator

Parts of the Governor's House Cultural Center and Museum are open to the public. For visitor information, please refer to UF Historic St. Augustine Inc. (ufl.edu).

Rights Holder

University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
https://www.ufl.edu/

Local address:
48 King Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084
https://www.staugustine.ufl.edu/about.html

Source

The following books, articles, websites, and photographers were used to find the above photographs or illustrations:

Photograph 1 (1764): Waterbury, Jean Parker, ed. The Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival. St. Augustine, FL: St. Augustine Historical Society, 1983.

Photograph 2 (c.1910s-1920s): Bowen, Beth Rogero, and the St. Augustine Historical Society. St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing, 2012.

Photograph 3 (2023): Augusty, Jean-Marc. "Photograph of the Governor's House." March 11, 2023.

The following books, articles, and/or websites were used to find information about this location:

Bowen, Beth Rogero, and the St. Augustine Historical Society. St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing, 2012.

“Government House: The 1935 U.S. Post Office and Customs House; St. Augustine, FL.” Historic Structure Report, May 31, 2012. Located on UF Digital Collections. https://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00009732/00001/pdf.

GovernorsHouseLibrary. “Government House.” Governor’s House Library: Explore St. Augustine’s History. January 30, 2020. https://governorshouselibrary.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/government-house/.

GovernorsHouseLibrary. “The Postal Past of Governor’s House.” Governor’s House Library: Explore St. Augustine’s History. April 21, 2021. https://governorshouselibrary.wordpress.com/2021/04/21/the-postal-past-of-governors-house/.

“GovernorsHouseLibrary. “So What Is a Governor’s House?” Governor’s House Library: Explore St. Augustine’s History. April 2, 2021. https://governorshouselibrary.wordpress.com/2021/04/02/so-whats-a-governors-house/.

Rights

Flagler College Special Collections is neither the original nor current copyright owner for the photographs. Please contact the publisher or source cited for each photograph to obtain a copy and/or permission to reproduce these items.

Date Submitted

This record was last updated on March 29, 2023.

Citation

The Spanish, “Governor's House,” St. Augustine Fiction, accessed June 13, 2024, https://staugustinefiction.omeka.net/items/show/333.

Geolocation