Governor's House Library

Governor's House Library Governor’s House Library is jointly managed by Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida and UF Historic St. Augustine Inc. on behalf of the state of Florida.

Operating as usual

Government House had one more major facelift in the 1930s. Jacksonville architect Mellen C. Greeley was chosen to redesi...
04/19/2021

Government House had one more major facelift in the 1930s. Jacksonville architect Mellen C. Greeley was chosen to redesign the building, and he took his inspiration from a 1764 watercolor of the structure. This renovation returned the building to its Spanish colonial roots on the outside, while it remained the city's post office on the inside. Many of our postcards from our postcard collection, like the one shown here, were stamped and mailed from our lobby!

Government House had one more major facelift in the 1930s. Jacksonville architect Mellen C. Greeley was chosen to redesign the building, and he took his inspiration from a 1764 watercolor of the structure. This renovation returned the building to its Spanish colonial roots on the outside, while it remained the city's post office on the inside. Many of our postcards from our postcard collection, like the one shown here, were stamped and mailed from our lobby!

By the time the United States gained control of Florida in 1821, the Governor's House had fallen into disrepair. The Ame...
04/15/2021

By the time the United States gained control of Florida in 1821, the Governor's House had fallen into disrepair. The Americans merged East and West Florida into one territory, and by 1824 St. Augustine lost its status as a capital city when Tallahassee was chosen as the new state capital.

Governor's House no longer needed to house the Governor, so it got a name change to "Government House". Robert Mills, who is most famous for designing the Washington Monument, was hired to redesign Government House for use as a custom house, courthouse, post office, and other federal functions.

By the time the United States gained control of Florida in 1821, the Governor's House had fallen into disrepair. The Americans merged East and West Florida into one territory, and by 1824 St. Augustine lost its status as a capital city when Tallahassee was chosen as the new state capital.

Governor's House no longer needed to house the Governor, so it got a name change to "Government House". Robert Mills, who is most famous for designing the Washington Monument, was hired to redesign Government House for use as a custom house, courthouse, post office, and other federal functions.

04/13/2021

The holy month of #Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, has begun. This time of spiritual reflection and self-improvement begins and ends with the crescent moon. Ramadan is observed by Muslims to commemorate when God revealed the first chapters of the Quran, Islam’s sacred text, to the Prophet Muhammad. This year, Ramadan is from April 12-May 12, 2021.

Fasting is one of the elements most closely associated with the observance of Ramadan. The end of Ramadan fasting is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr, or the “Feast of Fast-Breaking”. This Is one of the major religious holidays of the Islamic faith.

Ramadan Mubarak to all of those observing Ramadan! Learn more about the origins and traditions of Ramadan by clicking the following link: https://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2017/05/the-visitor-the-holy-month-of-ramadan-and-muslim-practice/

The British left St. Augustine in 1784, and the Royal Governor's Residence had Spanish inhabitants once again. Governor ...
04/12/2021

The British left St. Augustine in 1784, and the Royal Governor's Residence had Spanish inhabitants once again. Governor Vicente Manuel de Céspedes y Velasco was the first Royal Governor of East Florida to move into Governor's House during the Second Spanish Period.

This drawing shows how the Governor's residential quarters, located on the second floor, were likely laid out during this time. The second Spanish hold on East and West Florida wouldn't last too long; Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821.

The British left St. Augustine in 1784, and the Royal Governor's Residence had Spanish inhabitants once again. Governor Vicente Manuel de Céspedes y Velasco was the first Royal Governor of East Florida to move into Governor's House during the Second Spanish Period.

This drawing shows how the Governor's residential quarters, located on the second floor, were likely laid out during this time. The second Spanish hold on East and West Florida wouldn't last too long; Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821.

Happy #NationalLibraryWeek! Want to know what we and our colleagues at University of Florida George A. Smathers Librarie...
04/09/2021
Vol 3 No 2 (2021): Spring 2021 | SOURCE: The Magazine of the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries

Happy #NationalLibraryWeek! Want to know what we and our colleagues at University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries have been up to? Check out the latest issue of SOURCE magazine in the link bellow.

SOURCE offers the reader an opportunity to view remarkable materials from our collections, learn about our innovative research and collaborations, and explore highlights of exceptional faculty and student services provided by the Smathers Libraries.

We're excited to be participating in Flagler College Archives' virtual discussion on Resilience: Black Heritage in St. A...
04/09/2021

We're excited to be participating in Flagler College Archives' virtual discussion on Resilience: Black Heritage in St. Augustine! See the poster bellow for more details about the event on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 1 p.m.

This #FeatureFriday, we are headed into Flagler College Archives! Their mission is to identify records of enduring value, to preserve those records and make them available for research.

As a partner of "Resilience: Black Heritage St. Augustine," Flagler College Archives is hosting a virtual discussion from local cultural heritage professionals, who have come together for our project. Tune in next week on Thursday, April 15 at 1 p.m.: https://fb.me/e/MM6RQbjK

To learn more about the event and archives, visit https://library.flagler.edu/college-archives/.

Mobile Uploads
04/07/2021

Mobile Uploads

#OTD April 7, 1889:

African-American abolitionist, newspaper publisher, and author Frederick Douglass addressed an estimated 700 St. Augustine residents where the Genovar Opera House once stood on St. George Street. Mayor William W. Dewhurst introduced Douglass who outlined the continuing struggle of African-Americans to achieve civil rights.

Douglass travelled to and from St. Augustine in a special railroad car. Although a fire on April 2, 1914 resulted in the destruction of the Genovar Opera House, visitors to St. Augustine can still visit where Douglass spoke. Today a marker designates the site.

We've been working from home during the pandemic, and we've got to admit, we're loving the short commute! We think St. A...
04/07/2021

We've been working from home during the pandemic, and we've got to admit, we're loving the short commute! We think St. Augustine's British Governor James Grant felt the same way. His Governor's House was renovated in 1759, just a few years before he moved in.

This structure was quite impressive and included gardens and a walled courtyard. Governor Grant conducted business and resided in the building from 1764-1771, and our first picture of Governor's House dates to his governorship. Learn more about Grant's time in St. Augustine on the blog: https://bit.ly/3sY8XfB

This month, we're time traveling through the history of our favorite St. Augustine building: Governor's House. Together ...
04/02/2021

This month, we're time traveling through the history of our favorite St. Augustine building: Governor's House. Together we'll explore how the walls of our building have been part of the city's history from its earliest days to now. Buckle up, because today we're headed all the way back to 1598!⁠

The first known building on the site where Governor's House is located today was a wooden structure built by Spanish Royal Governor Gonzalo Méndez de Canço. It would have been one of the finest homes in colonial St. Augustine, and its location in the center of town couldn't have been better. His successor, Governor Ibarra, convinced the Spanish government to purchase the home and make it the official Governor's Residence in 1604. The rest, as they say, is history! ⁠Check out our blog on Florida's governor's house for more https://bit.ly/39C88kQ

As we begin this series, we would like to acknowledge that Governor's House sits on the unceded and ancient homeland of the Timucua peoples of Northeast Florida. We pay respect to the Timucua peoples and acknowledge their extinction at the hands of European settlers and colonization.

This month, we're time traveling through the history of our favorite St. Augustine building: Governor's House. Together we'll explore how the walls of our building have been part of the city's history from its earliest days to now. Buckle up, because today we're headed all the way back to 1598!⁠

The first known building on the site where Governor's House is located today was a wooden structure built by Spanish Royal Governor Gonzalo Méndez de Canço. It would have been one of the finest homes in colonial St. Augustine, and its location in the center of town couldn't have been better. His successor, Governor Ibarra, convinced the Spanish government to purchase the home and make it the official Governor's Residence in 1604. The rest, as they say, is history! ⁠Check out our blog on Florida's governor's house for more https://bit.ly/39C88kQ

As we begin this series, we would like to acknowledge that Governor's House sits on the unceded and ancient homeland of the Timucua peoples of Northeast Florida. We pay respect to the Timucua peoples and acknowledge their extinction at the hands of European settlers and colonization.

We've loved learning more about the incredible women in St. Augustine with the Saint Augustine Historical Society this m...
03/31/2021

We've loved learning more about the incredible women in St. Augustine with the Saint Augustine Historical Society this month. March may be coming to an end, but we plan to keep honoring and celebrating women past, present, and future who contribute to our understanding of St. Augustine's history and culture. Take a deeper dive into some of these women and the places they've impacted by checking out our brand new digital exhibit, "Champions of St. Augustine"! https://arcg.is/1rijG40

We've loved learning more about the incredible women in St. Augustine with the Saint Augustine Historical Society this month. March may be coming to an end, but we plan to keep honoring and celebrating women past, present, and future who contribute to our understanding of St. Augustine's history and culture. Take a deeper dive into some of these women and the places they've impacted by checking out our brand new digital exhibit, "Champions of St. Augustine"! https://arcg.is/1rijG40

03/28/2021

#OTD in 1964, Barbara B. Allen, a former resident of St. Augustine, participated in a Sit­-In at St. George Street Pharmacy requesting to be served “…coffee, black like me.” She was immediately arrested and placed in the backseat of a police car with a snarling dog. Allen was charged with inciting a riot and conspiracy to overthrow the American Government.

Hear her story in her own words through Flagler College's Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine: https://civilrights.flagler.edu/digital/collection/p15415coll1/id/1081/

03/26/2021

It's #FeatureFriday! Today's feature is all about Anna Madgignine Jai Kingsley.

This photo is identified as Anna Kingsley’s house kitchen at the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island. Anna Kingsley, as she was known later in her life, was born into a royal Wolof family in Senegal. Enslaved at a young age, she was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley, an English plantation owner and former slave trafficker.

The story of Anna Madgignine Jai Kingsley is a complicated, yet intriguing one. She held many roles: from African princess to enslaved person to slave owner. As a free Black woman, she defied the boundaries of the usual social structure in early Antebellum Florida.

She petitioned the Spanish government for land, and received 5 acres of land along the Saint Johns River in 1813. Enslaved people tended to the crops and livestock on her property and Anna managed the tract and sold her goods to neighbors. After setting fire to the property to keep it out of American hands during a raid, the Kingsley family moved with their enslaved laborers to Fort George Island and established the Kingsley Plantation on a thousand-acre tract of land. Though Zephaniah hired managers to oversee his other properties when he was gone, Anna filled this role at Fort George Island.

However, the American encroachment was not an isolated event, but instead a harbinger of what was to come. When Florida became an American territory in 1821, the new government pressed for harsh laws that restricted the movement and freedoms of free Black people and the enslaved population. In response to increasing constraints and danger, Anna left for Haiti in 1837. She returned to Florida after her husband’s death in 1843 and became embroiled in a legal battle with his white relatives for the inheritance outlined in Kingsley’s will.

Anna Kingsley’s life was one of intrigue and contradiction. As a free Black person with mixed race children, she led an incredibly visible life at a time when free Black life became more restricted. As a woman, she oversaw a vast property and kept it running smoothly. However, she derived wealth from the exploitation of enslaved people, even after being enslaved herself. Though she left no memoirs or writings behind, Anna Kingsley lives on through the documents that chronicle her influential life. For more information, visit the site of our Resilience partner Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, https://www.nps.gov/timu/learn/historyculture/kp.htm

(Photo Courtesy of Florida Memory)

03/26/2021

Today for our #womenshistorymonth collaboration with Governor's House Library, we are highlighting Mildred “Tita” Parsons who was photographed by Black photographer Richard Twine.

Mildred "Tita" Parsons was born around 1905. She shared her memories of the plays Richard Twine staged and being photographed by him on many occasions. She married musician Robert Mason and they had three sons: Reginald "Cookie", Robert, and Otis. In 1984, Otis was the first person of African-American descent to be elected as the Superintendent of St. Johns County School District.

To see more of Twine’s images of Lincolnville in the 1920s, visit Emily, our online digital collection here: https://sahs.pastperfectonline.com/photo/6DD8DF6F-77B0-44FA-AAC5-447712244093

You can also learn more about Lincolnville at Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center and more about Black history through our multi-institutional collaborative project Resilience: Black Heritage in St. Augustine.

#floridahistory #staugustine #resiliencebhsa

03/26/2021

The third woman with Sup't Griffin in Wednesday's photo is Dr. Amy Turner Bushnell, who was Historian of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board for five years (1981-86). She specializes in colonial Spanish history and has written numerous articles and books on Spanish Florida, the influence of the Catholic Church in the New World, and the lives of Indigenous Americans. Situado and Sabana, published in 1994, was a ground-breaking study of how things worked in La Florida and how Spain was able to maintain an economically unprofitable yet strategic colony on the important east coast of North America. After leaving the Ancient City, Dr. Bushnell went on to lecture at several different universities, including Johns Hopkins, the University of South Alabama, the University of California, and the College of Charleston. #WomensHistoryMonth

Image Description: Cover of book titled Situado and Sabana: Spain's Support System for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida. It has a 1593 drawing of a fort and warehouse in St. Augustine.

03/23/2021

Today for our #womenhistorymonth collab with Governor's House Library, we bring you an archival trace of Emma Grout, the first registered female voter in St. John’s County. Her birth name was Lavinia Emily Grout, and she lived in the #OldestHouse from 1914 to 1918. To the best of our knowledge. She was born on August 6, 1846 in Acworth, New Hampshire, and passed away on March 13, 1926 in St. Augustine Beach. While her death date in the Record is listed as the 13th, her obituary was written on the 19th, and her tombstone records her day of death as March 26th.

We often talk about how research is an active and ongoing process. As Dr. Parker says “the facts about the past don’t change but the questions we ask do.” We raise new questions which opens up new lines of thinking. We gain perspective every time. Emma Grout’s story is demonstrative of this process—her story is newer to us. We have only recently learned about her and her experience at the #gonzalezalvarezhouse. We are excited to learn more about Emma.

03/20/2021

Next time you are walking downtown St. Augustine, look for a garden at the corner of St. George and Hypolita Streets. The creation of this Spanish-style garden in 1965 (part of the preparations for St. Augustine’s 400th Anniversary) was a joint effort by many different women. As a member of the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission, Elizabeth Towers was asked to lead the project. She then created a group of women called the Hispanic Garden Committee to help with both the design and fundraising. The group decided to create a “plazoleta”, a small plaza modeled after classic Spanish gardens. Jessie Ball duPont, a member of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, personally funded close to 60% of the project. Towers selected Drusilla Gjoerloff and Lee Schmoll, the only two female landscape architects in the area, to carry out the design. In the center of the garden sits a statue of Queen Isabella of Castile, sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington, who was one of New York City’s most prominent sculptors in the early 20th century. This plaza is a beautiful example of what a determined group of women can accomplish together! #WomensHistoryMonth

Side note: This is the former "solar de San Patricio" that we mentioned on St. Patrick's Day!

Image Description: A statue of a woman on a mule stands in the middle of square planters full of red, pink, yellow, and white flowers. Well-manicured hedges and grass decorate the plaza as well.

Address

Get Directions 48 King St
Saint Augustine, FL
32084

General information

The Governor's House Library managed by the University of Florida intends to educate, inform and provide updated information on library activities and to support and promote objectives for these activities through its social media site. All comments are made by Governor's House Library designees. This site is not a public forum. Social media users may share ideas through commentary that is consistent with and furthers the objectives of the library's posts and the University of Florida reserves the right to remove any comments that do not fall within this purpose.

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(904) 770-3249

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Governor’s House Library

Our collections here at Governor’s House were created by the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board, a state agency that operated from 1959-1997. Its mission was to restore and reconstruct downtown St. Augustine to more accurately reflect its Spanish colonial heritage. The Preservation Board was sundowned in 1997, but its legacy lives on through the University of Florida and UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc. Governor’s House Library tells the story of St. Augustine’s built environment and documents how much our city has changed in the last 60 years.