Built as a merchant’s home and place of business in 1798, the coquina stone Ximenez House later became “Miss Fatio’s,” St. Augustine’s most fashionable boarding house. Today, it is a historic house museum, carefully researched and authentically restored to reflect its heyday during Florida’s first tourism boom throughout its Territorial and Early Statehood periods of 1821-1861. Every room tells a unique story about early visitors and how they experienced the Oldest City. Hear them all on an unforgettable guided tour.
The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum has fascinating stories to tell about a little-known period in Florida history. Each room is meticulously interpreted to bring the past to life in a visual and entertaining way. Best of all, through ongoing research and archaeological discoveries, House stories continue to unfold.
Ximenez-Fatio House Museum tour guides are experts on a fascinating era when small, secluded St. Augustine became a tourist mecca almost overnight. Visitors tell us that it’s the most surprising tour in town!
Unlike many historic properties, the coquina rock house and its detached kitchen have been restored without replacing original building materials. Inside, all artifacts and furnishings have been painstakingly researched and sourced for accuracy. It is considered the most authentic 18th century building in St. Augustine.
The House has been owned and managed by women since the early 1830s, an era when it was unusual for a woman to own property or earn a paycheck. These astute businesswomen used their household management skills to earn a living. In the process, they set the standards for modern tourism, the backbone of Florida’s economy today.
“The tour was something you do not hear about, powerful women of St. Augustine and early Florida.” — visitor from Jacksonville, Florida
Built south of the plaza on the oldest platted street in North America and the oldest continuously settled section of St. Augustine, the House was on the main route from the fort to the military hospital to the soldier barracks on the south end of town. The area still has the small blocks and charming narrow streets of the early city, lined with small shops and restaurants.
The site has been occupied for centuries, first by indigenous people and then Europeans since 1572. More than 15 digs on the property have unearthed thousands of artifacts that range from pre-Columbian pottery to a rare 17th century Caravaca Cross. (see our "Discoveries" page)
In 1798, Andres Ximenez constructed the building of locally quarried coquina rock, the area’s most expensive building material — and one that has stood the test of time. The House is also an exceptional example of St. Augustine Plan architecture, an elegant hybrid style developed during the Second Spanish Colonial Period.
This is one of the few historic properties in St. Augustine owned and operated by a private non-profit organization. And after almost 200 years, the property is still held and managed by women.
The historic detached kitchen contains an original 1800s beehive oven, believed to be one of three still surviving in Florida. In its day, this was a marvelous technology and an indispensable tool for a kitchen that fed many guests three times a day. Its fire would have burned all night to ensure that baking could begin at dawn.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida purchased the property as their state museum in 1939. Neglected for many years, the original structure was intact but in dire need of attention. The Dames hired William Seale of Williamsburg fame and other leading restoration experts to begin the decades-long process of returning the House to its former glory. For 75 years, top American architects, historians and archeologists have guided the restoration and interpretation of this important house museum.
The extraordinary care and personal touch given to the Museum create an intimate connection with the past, making the property uniquely engaging and fascinating. Perhaps this is the reason TripAdvisor ranks us a top attraction in St. Augustine year after year.
In an era when visitors typically stayed all winter, restaurants were almost nonexistent, and most short-stay hotels were anything but genteel, a boarding house was the obvious choice. Cuisine, or “board,” was of particular importance. Our food and wine were mentioned in local papers as the finest in town. The Dining Room and Detached Kitchen with Beehive Oven celebrate this distinction.
Invalids came to stay on doctor’s orders to escape cold Northern winters. The Frail Lady Room is interpreted to show how this boarding house catered to their needs.
Officers of rank were permitted to billet outside the fort. Records show that they frequently chose this boarding house, which was known for its fine table and genteel guests. The Military Officer’s Room tells their story.
The spacious Family Room upstairs depicts the lifestyle of families during a winter sojourn in St. Augustine.
During flare-ups of the Seminole Indian Wars, refugees from outside the city fled to the fort for protection. Families of means stayed in boarding houses like this one.
Visiting mariners bringing supply ships past St. Augustine’s treacherously shallow sand bar are memorialized by the Sea Captain’s Room, complete with navigation tools of the period.
Drawn by Florida’s exotic flora and fauna, botanists, artists and scientists came to study and sketch. The Naturalist’s Room is dedicated to these interesting guests.
Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, erasing an international border and clearing the way for adventurers eager to explore the last frontier on the east coast.
The Doctor’s Room honors a well-known St. Augustine physician who lodged at the House and treated patients while his home was under construction.
Sophisticated and well educated for their time, the owners and managers of the House provided quality accommodations and attracted a fashionable clientele. These winter guests from cosmopolitan cities like New York, Boston and Charleston were often welcomed into the spacious Owner’s Quarters upstairs for an evening of music and conversation. Sometimes favored locals were also invited.