In 1798, Don Andrés Ximenez built this fine three-story house made of coquina for his wife Juana Pellicer and their children. Juana’s father, Francisco Pellicer led the Menorcan exodus of 1777 out of New Smyrna, from their 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. Ximenez included a grocery store with a storage room and space for a billiards hall on the first floor, private family bedrooms and a living area on the second floor, and attic space on the third floor. There were also two large warehouses on the property along with a detached kitchen and washroom.
Juana Ximenez died in 1802, at the age of 26, followed by two of their five children the following year. Andrés died in 1806 at the age of 53. As the three surviving children were minors, they went to live with their maternal grandfather ,Francisco Pellicer. The house was rented to various tenants who maintained the business downstairs and lived upstairs. By 1830 Mrs. Margaret Cook had completed the purchase of the property.
Mrs. Cook converted the home into a boarding house by turning the billiards hall into an entry hall and dining room, and the two warehouses into a parlor and four guest rooms. Mrs. Cook hired Eliza Whitehurst, a widow who was also likely her sister, to manage her new boarding house. In June 1838, Mrs. Whitehurst died and the business once again changed hands. In July, Mrs. Sarah Petty Anderson, also a widow, purchased the boarding house from Mrs. Cook and lived in the house for over 15 years. In 1851, Miss Louisa Fatio became the manager of Mrs. Anderson’s boarding house.
In 1855, Mrs. Anderson sold the property to Miss Fatio and moved to Tallahassee. Miss Fatio owned the property and kept it afloat during times of economic uncertainty, 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 for almost 25 years. She also raised her nephew and nieces in the house.
After Miss Fatio’s death, the house remained in her family until 1939. In that year, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida purchased the property, and began the decades long process of meticulously restoring and furnishing the home with the intent of making it a historic house museum. As it was for the almost 50 years it operated as a boarding house, the home today is still owned and operated by (mostly!) women.