Welcome to 1800's St. Augustine

A Brief History of the Ximenez-Fatio House

In 1798, Don Andres Ximenez built this fine three-story home and warehouse of coquina for he and his bride, Juana Pellicer Ximenez. Juana’s father, Francisco Pellicer led the Menorcan exodus of 1777 out of New Smyrna, from their illegal bondage by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Pellicer brought approximately 600 people to St. Augustine at the invitation of British governor Colonel Patrick Tonyn. Francisco Pellicer was also a master carpenter and may well have been involved in the construction of this home. In his original site plan, Ximenez included a grocery story and storage room, tavern, and billiard hall on the first floor, family bedrooms and living area on the second floor, and servants/enslaved persons living areas on the third floor. There were also two large warehouses that butted up to each other – what we now know as the first floor guest rooms – along with a detached kitchen and washroom.

Juana Ximenez died in 1802, at the age of 26. Andres followed in 1806. He was 53. The Ximenez family passed the property among them until 1825, when Mrs. Margaret Cook and her husband were given the opportunity to purchase an interest in 1/3rd of the house. She bought another 1/3rd interest in 1827, after her husband passed away. By 1830, Mrs. Cook owned the whole compound. She converted the home into a boarding house by turning the tavern into a lobby, the billiard hall into a fine dining room, and the two warehouses into four guest rooms. The grocery store and storeroom remained intact since it was such a profitable business. Mrs. Cook hired Eliza Whitehurst, a single lady, to manage her new boarding house. In June 1838, Mrs. Whitehurst died, most likely due to a Yellow Fever epidemic ravaging St. Augustine.

In July, Sarah Petty Anderson, also a single woman, purchased the boarding house from Mrs. Cook. In 1852, Louisa Fatio, the last of this impressive line of single women to either own or manage the property, became the manager of Miss Anderson’s boarding house.

In 1855, Miss Anderson sold the property to Louisa and moved to Tallahassee. Miss Fatio owned the property and kept it afloat during times of slavery, secession from the Union, re-occupation by Union troops in 1862, and Reconstruction. She died in 1875, having maintained the integrity, reputation, and prominence of this boarding house through a time when the term “boarding house” often had a very negative connotation.

The house spent the next several decades as an artists’ retreat until it fell into disrepair by the 1930s – yet the downstairs/grocery store and storeroom always housed some form of retail business.

In 1939, The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida purchased the property, and in the process of refurbishing the home, presented it for the first time to the public on May 6, 1940, as an example of historic home restoration. Please visit this amazing property at your first convenience. In the meantime, we have built this extensive website for you to virtually step onto our property, play our games, hear our stories, and read of our history. Please enjoy!

1860's Boarding House Visitors

 

We have a storied past.

 

 

History Comes Alive

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.

Sea Captains Room

10 Reasons to Visit Today

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!

School Group at the Ximenez-Fatio House

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.

Soup Tureen

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

Sarah Petty Anderson

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.

Entrance to Aviles Street

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)

Caravaca Cross

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.

Archaeology Room

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.

Beehive Oven

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.

We have a storied past.

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.

10 Reasons to Visit in the 1800's

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.

1798 Coquina Kitchen

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.

Our exhibits show colonial life

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.

Military history in the city

The spacious Family Room upstairs depicts the lifestyle of families during a winter sojourn in St. Augustine.

There are interesting objects for everyone in the museum.

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.

Guest Parlor

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.

Sea Captains Room

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.

Artists Room

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.

Changing of Flags Castillo de San Marcos 1821

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.

Doctor Pecks Room

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.

Private Residence Parlor

Ximenez-Fatio House Presents

EVERY ROOM HAS A STORY

Guest Dining Room

Dining Room

Guest Parlor

Private Guest Quarters

1798 Coquina Kitchen

Coquina Kitchen