St. Augustine: America's first city (Part 2)

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The Gonzalez-Alvarez House: St. Augustine's oldest

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St. Augustine's "Oldest House" evolved from a flat-roofed, single-story dwelling that was built early in the 18th century.

The coquina walls in the first-floor room, left, date from that period -- though window glass wasn't introduced until years later, when the British arrived.


The St. Augustine Historical Society acquired the old house in 1918 -- and has restored and recreated a history which tells something of nearly 400 years of life in St. Augustine.

 

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12.jpg (11663 bytes) While the kitchen outbuilding, above and left, is a 20th century reproduction, it provides a glimpse of a little-remembered fact about many early U.S. houses: Namely that the kitchen was often placed in a separate building, to reduce the risk of fire and (in the South) to keep the main house cooler.

Compare the 19th century photo at top to the late 20th century photo, at bottom, and you can see the house has gone through many remodelings.

The second story was added during Colonial days. During the Victorian era, the walls in all of the rooms on the home's second story were covered with wooden railroad siding, right.

As part of a mid-20th century restoration project, Victorian embellishments were removed from the home's exterior -- and from all but one room inside.

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