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The City of St. Augustine

City Directory - 1885

The St. Augustine City Directory and Guide, published in 1885, contains a quantity of information about the city in the days just before the opening of the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar, then in process of construction.

The town population was estimated to be about 3,000 souls and the assessed value of the real estate in 1884 (not more than one-sixth of the value) was put at $592,105, an increase of about $50,000 over the previous assessment in 1880,

The town had two newspapers, both weeklies, the St. Augustine Press and the St. John's Weekly. The former, published by John P. Whitney, was available at a subscription rate of $2.00 per year and promised to supply all the information a prospective resident of Florida needed to know including how to find a home and how to grow oranges.

The city boasted a number of schools above the grammar school level, which the directory lists. The high school was located on Hospital (Aviles) Street and had 145 pupils. In those days of segregation, there was a separate high school for negro students located on Spanish Street (115 enrolled), as well as an Industrial School. The County Superintendent was Peter Arnau. John Allen, A. Lopez, L. A. Colee, M.S. Usina, and W.S.M. Pinkham made up the Board of Public Instruction.

In addition to the public schools there was the school operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph who educated 180 of the city's youth, and they also operated St. Joseph Academy for Young Ladies (Reverend Mother Lazerus, principal). Miss L. Munday was the principal of the St.Augustine Academy for Young Ladies and Edward S. Drown operated the St. Augustine School for Boys.

Miss Munday advertised in the directory that her academy was "designed to furnish a southern Home for young ladies" and listed a number of prominent people in Canada and the North as references. She emphasized that her school was nondenominational but strictly Christian in discipline and instruction stressing "systematic study of the Scriptures through all the courses."

St. Joseph Academy for Young Ladies offered a "solid ornamental" education for $150 a quarter, plus $40 additional for instruction in music (with use of instrument) and $20 for drawing and painting. It had airy, well-ventilated dormitories with a view of the ocean and its advertisement stresses that it is just a short distance from the fine bath house on the bay where the young ladies were taken frequently to bathe. Its fist of advantages ends with the following statement: "Letters written or received by the young ladies are inspected by the Superioress."

Love will find a way, however. There is a record of at least one elopement from the St. Joseph Academy when Frank Markle, a local young man, somehow in spite of the good sisters' close supervision, won the heart of Miss Marksie Jaudoin of Miami. They ran away and married as teenagers and lived happily together for over 50 years.

Then St. Augustine was a much smaller place. The directory lists just 31 streets and contains a map which shows that the city's western boundary north of King Street was Tolomato Street (now Cordova), but south of King, the city widens and there is a Bronson Street and a few un-named side streets blocked in. North of the City Gate, Shell Road (San Marco Avenue) was the main thoroughfare, but it ran through suburbs and there are no streets shown north of Myrtle Street.

The old directory has many illustrations and perhaps the most interesting shows a view of Bay Street (Avenida Menendez) looking south from the Castillo. The bay is filled with sailboats and behind the sea wall is what seems to be a wide grassy promenade as well as a street filled with buggies and carriages. It seems to be nearly as wide as the four-lane thoroughfare of today.

In 1885 those who did not want to attempt a sailboat trip to Anastasia Island or North Beach for a dip could swim from the Bath House on the sea wall, just opposite the old market. Its proprietor was Phillip V. Capo and his establishment provided hot and cold sea water, sulphur

water baths, and shower baths "in the season." He also rented rowboats by the hour or by the day. After their swim, bathers could go across the street for a bite to eat at the Ancient City Restaurant which advertised meals "at all hours" and promised "to serve up oysters on short notice."

On King Street, there was a skating rink which claimed to be the largest and most elaborate in all of Florida.

Two railroads served the city-the St. Johns Railway and the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railroad. For getting about town there were two livery stables, one on Bronson Street near King and the other a branch of the Savannah Club Stable. They had available "stylish turnouts" at short notice and provided careful drivers for them. Or you could rent a buggy and drive it yourself. A favorite drive was out Shell Road to the Magnolia Grove with its stately avenue of live oaks, and another popular trip was across the San Sebastian River by way of the bridge on King Street to Ponce de Leon Springs.

Visitors loved to walk the narrow streets and stare at the old coquina houses built by the Spaniards. By 1885, however, St. Augustine had attracted a number of wealthy winter residents who built their own homes or "villas" in handsomely landscaped grounds. These were constructed in the "modem style" many with cupolas, much fancy carpenter work, and wide verandahs.

South of the Plaza on St. George Street were the fine homes of A. J. Alexander of Kentucky and of Holmes Ammidown of New York City. On North St. George Street George Lorillard of New York built the "Lorillard Villa" with its distinctive windmill. The home of Dr. A. Anderson surrounded by its beautiful orange grove, was one of the city's major attractions.

Just across the street from the Castillo, near the City Gate, was the St. Augustine Museum which housed a collection of relics from Spanish days, as well as many other fascinating exhibits. The Fort Marion Store was located in the same building and sold souvenirs of all kinds. It was a favorite stopping place for ladies who wanted to rest from their morning walk along the bay front, and provided easy chairs as well as a comfortable fire on chilly mornings.


 
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