Friday, January 24, 2020

Historic Saint Augustine Florida, Visitor Center and Governor's Mansion Museum

        Saint Augustine is the nation's oldest continually occupied European city, at four and a half centuries it is ancient by American standards (please don't scoff you Europeans and Asians, the Great Wall and the Coliseum were new once too) and is suitably proud of its heritage. Not only does it have the magnificent Castillo de San Marcos but the downtown still conforms to the original Spanish layout. In honor of their heritage and to help orient a tourist the city has built a very impressive Visitor Center which borders upon being a museum in and of itself. I am confining the following photo essay to those portions that may be of interest to wargamers and military historians.

this wonderful display of craftsmanship is in the main hall,
a Spanish galleon from when Spain ruled the waves

having built a few (very much smaller) wooden models 
I can only marvel at the time and effort that is on display here

the model has a portion of the hull open 
so that the manner of stowage for ballast and cargo can be displayed

the complexity of the standing and running rigging is astounding

I have always found the building of tiny things like scale ship's boats to be the hardest part
these little gems are delightful

another display reflects the mixed nature of the population of Saint Augustine
where Native Americans mixed with Spaniards and Africans, both slave and free

I can't imagine wearing that soldiers outfit in the Florida summer

this looks much more comfortable

to my granddaughter's delight there was a ship INSIDE the building,
to her dismay children were not allowed to play on it (I was disappointed too!)

I think that I should build a galleon play structure in my yard that doubles as a gaming shed

there are maps (I love maps, particularly original ones)

a close up of the fort in the earlier map

just a block away are the original city gates 
just out of sight to the right is the Castillo

this view is from the inside of the city wall, 
the tiny sentry box can been seen under the dome

a poor picture of an interesting map, it shows the stages of the growth of the city
download it and zoom way in for a better look

At the Governor's Mansion

the humble beginnings of the Castillo,
a guard tower and a palisade

old maps are the best, now all I have to do is find somebody who can read Castilian!

some lovely contemporary watercolors of soldiers from the period

and a modern painting of Fort Mose 
I just may have to build a model of this little fort....

in 1740 the English captured Fort Mose
 but the Spanish troops recaptured it a short while later

I have to wonder if their torsos were really that long 
maybe it's just the coat....

a plan-form of a fort with maddeningly inexact derytails

if only they had used isometric projection, 
I know little of the artistic norms of the period 
and can't tell if those are cannon or wall guns or just musket ports!

another interesting map
this would be a great model to build 
but I have no clue if that is an earthen embankment of just a palisade

these forts died faster than Henry VIII wives!

more maps of the English burning Saint Augustine,
this seemed to be a ritual with the Brits

I'm reminded of the scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail....
the Scots Lord who keeps building towers in a swamp, 
each time it got destroyed they built it anew 
finally they got around to using stone for the structures
 a material that even the resourceful British found difficult to burn

they even built a giant stone globe
(actually this is a much later marker for measurements of distance in Florida )

an interesting display that documents the growth of the town

here is that triangular fort again......

...but what does it say????
are the arches bombproofs?
or cannon platforms? haystacks?

further incendiary Englishmen

and then there was this bloke who ruined the fun for everyone that came after him

the city ended up with a stone fort and a complete circuit of walls
now showing up with a sword and a Zippo lighter wasn't enough!

loads of text in Spanish that I can't make heads or tails of
oh, and a very nice map 

once the fort was done the Spanish kept the quarry going and began building everything in stone,
 it was far less susceptible to the perennial plagues of termites and Englishmen

after all that work they ended trading it all away to the English

who lost it back to the Spanish after the American revolution

but we proved to be incorrigible neighbors and we ended up taking it from the Spanish 

       This only touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg (which are exceedingly rare in the area of Florida). If you are in the area of Saint Augustine plan on spending a couple of days; there really is that much to see and do (not to mention the miles of sugar-white beaches and hundreds of great shops and eateries).

1 comment:

  1. Some fantastic pictures Anton. Some good gaming potential there.