Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peeking back in time

We spent the day in St. Augustine, the oldest European established city in the nation. St. Augustine is located in north-east Florida, about 2 hours drive for us.

We visited the small Tolomato Cemetery. A 1737 map describes the site as the church and village of Tolomato, an Indian village served by Franciscan priests. Their 18th century church was built of wood with a coquina-stone bell tower. The Christian Indians buried their dead here. In 1763 the church was destroyed. In 1777 a pastor of the Minorcan colonists established the site as a cemetery. The last burial took place in 1892.

 Walking through the historic district I kept my eyes open for the hidden backyards, 

and found an enchanting little garden behind one of the souvenir shops selling garden art.

The old Mill water wheel looks so forgotten in time, with ferns and mosses growing all over. The 19th century building is now a tavern. I am not sure if the water wheel still works, but I learned it is driven by water being pumped up to the top of the wheel from a well below.

Coquina walls are everywhere  (coquina is sedimentary rock composed entirely or almost entirely of small shell fragments)

In between little stores grows  this Confederate jasmine vine,  it turned into a tree with age

an old canon, just lying around

We toured the historic Pena-Peck house, a First Spanish Period home built of native coquina stone circa 1750, which is managed since 1932 by the Woman's Exchange of St. Augustine.

The garden of the Pena-Peck house:

I like the form of the rose trellis

Lush tropical plantings shaded by an arbor

We started and ended the day at cemeteries,  the Huguenot Cemetery 1821 - 1884, a half-acre plot in the middle of St. Augustine. Since St. Augustine was predominantly Catholic for more than 400 years, this cemetery was needed when the yellow fever epidemic broke out right after Florida became a Territory of the United States.  Non-Catholics could not be buried in the existing Catholic Tolomato cemetery.


  1. Nice post...loved the garden tour.
    We went there when I was just 10 years old and I still remember the old Spanish fort and the cannons.

  2. Very interesting post and photos - something I have never heard about before

  3. I love visiting St. Augustine...such a unique place.

  4. I love old cemeteries. And I was amazed at the old jasmine! Never thought of one living so long to turn into a tree like that! Nice scenes.